A vision on the shores of Lough Leane, the 15th-century Ross Castle was built as a medieval fortress for an Irish chieftain named O’Donoghue, and was said to be one of the last strongholds to fall to the brutal English Cromwellian forces in the mid-16th century. The ruin has been restored, and features lovely 16th- and 17th-century furniture.
Ross Castle is commonly included on organized jaunting car (pony and trap), hiking, and sightseeing tours around Killarney National Park. Kayak and boat tours, which meander through the Lakes of Killarney—often traveling between Ross Castle and the Gearhameen River near the Gap of Dunloe—regularly stop here too.
You can also tailor private Ring of Kerry day tours, departing from destinations all around the Iveragh Peninsula, to include a photo stop at Ross Castle. While you can view Ross Castle from the outside at any time and explore the surrounding grounds at will, access to the property is by guided tour only. Tours last 40 minutes; purchase tickets at the castle site.
Things to Know Before You Go
- With lakes, greenery, and mountain peaks surrounding it in all directions, Ross Castle is one of Killarney National Park’s finest photo opportunities.
- Ross Castle is not well-suited to visitors with mobility impairments. Many parts are difficult if not impossible to access because of steep inclines.
- Tours are limited to a maximum of 15 people; arrive early to ensure a spot.
How to Get There
Ross Castle is just a 6-minute drive from Killarney town. From the N71, take the Ross Road turnoff and follow the road down to the Ross Castle parking lot. From April through October, shuttle buses depart from the Killarney Discover Ireland Centre on Beech Road and stop at Ross Castle.
When to Get There
Ross Castle is open from March through November, with several guided tours taking place daily during this time. The castle is a very popular site within the park, and it can become crowded, especially during July and August. Arrive early in the day if you plan on doing a tour.
What Else to See in Killarney National Park
Ross Castle is just one of Killarney National Park’s many offerings. The park also encompasses the Victorian-era Muckross House and Gardens; Muckross Abbey, a ruined Franciscan friary; and the Gap of Dunloe, a scenic mountain pass bordered by lakes and peaks. In Lough Leane, right next to Ross Castle, is Innisfallen Island, where you can check out the ruins of an abbey and a free-roaming herd of deer.