Killarney is a beautiful town located in the south of Ireland. He didn’t ask that question. (Laughter) The lakes, yeah, the lakes are fantastic, and the hotels are beautiful. The people are lovely.
You might not catch everything when talking to the Irish, but the spirit certainly comes through. Shoppers will find that you can purchase nearly everything in Killarney, being major tourist destination.
There’s lots of retail here, and the pubs, and the antiques, and the gift shops. Even if not buying they make it fun to look. I have some archival footage of Killarney back in 1995 that I want to share with you because we had a chance then to meet one of the great characters of town, and listen to his authentic Killarney accent, which can be a challenge for some to understand: Mr. John O’Callaghan. You know me. What’s your name? John O’Callaghan.
John O’Callaghan? Yeah. My name is Dennis Callan. Oh yeah. I’m an ex-boxer.
Are you, really? I boxed in the ring since I was about 20 years of age and I coached the boxers in Ireland. So I am well-known. And so you’re born and bred in Killarney? Born and bred in Killarney.
John Killer O’Callaghan they call me. I won a couple of titles. Killer O’Callaghan.
Killer O’Callaghan, that’s my name. That’s great. If you shoot it on the screen, a photograph, back in Dingle now and ask them who is that? They will know.
Okay. If you shoot it on the screen, a photograph, back in Dingle now and ask them who is that? They all know me, you know.
That’s grand. Do you want to photograph? Sure, yeah, I got a picture of you. What a lovely….
He’s gone now but is still honored every year with an award named for him at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. In the old days, he and his boxers were always the stars of the parade. A popular tour that you would enjoy is a trip over to House Muckross, just about 5 miles away from town, in the Killarney National Park along the shores of the lake surrounded by beautiful flower gardens, with tours offered inside. Now this is the hall were guests, they have to wait before being shown into either the library or the drawing room.
But it also had a more important function in the social life of the house, because, as it was the largest room in the house, whenever there was a dance or a party, the servants will be asked to lift the carpets, push back all the furniture, and the dancing would actually take place here. The guided tour comes with your admission ticket that allows you to walk around inside the various rooms of the mansion. It was built in 1843 in the Tudor style and has 65 rooms with 19th-century furniture. It was donated to the nation in nine1932, along with its 11,000 acre estate and formed the basis of the first national park in Ireland. We will show you a bit more of the gardens coming up in a moment. You’ll get a peek behind the scenes into the workshops – they have to do a lot of ongoing maintenance, of course, to keep up such an old house, and the pottery workshop.
You can go into the gift shop and there they have an extensive pottery collection on sale. There’s also a restaurant on the premises. The jaunting car is a nice way to tour the grounds.
You can hire one right on the estate for 1/2 an hour ride, if you like. No need to ride the horse carriage all the way out from Killarney town. The estate is ideal for discovering slowly on foot. So take a stroll, or maybe ride a bicycle, that’s another good way to get around here. People rent bicycles in town and pedal all the way out here, just 5 miles, and then back again. They’ve also got a traditional farm that replicates life back in the 1930s and 40s, a time when the rural countryside still did not have electricity, and so they had to rely on the traditional turf for their heating.
That’s the peat that they dig up out of the ground, and pile it up to let it dry, and then burn it in their fireplaces. It’s still very popular today and does power some of the big commercial electric generators. You walk through a couple of the rooms and then out into the farm, out in the back. They’ve got that most important of all Irish crops the potato, still the staple of life in this country, along with dairy products.
There’s a petting zoo here for the kids and maybe you’ll get lucky and run into a fresh crop of kittens. This time our visit to Killarney was a day-stop, not spending the night, just visiting for a few hours on our way down to Kinsale. Passing through that crossroads of downtown again at the corner of New, Main and High streets. Heading out of the city, turning south towards Kinsale, with another nice view of St. Mary’s Cathedral that we saw earlier from that horse carriage. Irish roads have improved tremendously in recent decades.
You can see on the map the main highways they put in, and the secondary roads that they’ve improved. The economy was doing very well early in this century, not quite so well now, but they had a lot of money and invested in infrastructure, creating a modern state-of-the-art country with high levels of education that attracted much international business. They became the Celtic Tigers. It takes less than one hour to drive from Killarney to Macroom, where we stopped for a nice break, stretch our legs and take a stroll through town.
We find it’s typically Irish, with a lot of shops stretched out along the main street. Right in the middle of town they have the remains of Macroom Castle, built first from the 12th-century. Today we see the castle gate house. Macroom has a busy road, a main highway running right through the center of town. Like so many Irish cities, they want a bypass, and have made plans, and are constructing a road that will go around the town, so that the city will be much more peaceful.
Most towns in Ireland consist of the main street with shops along that one street and busy traffic running through it, creating a lot of noise and congestion. It seems like every town in Ireland now wants a bypass for traffic to go around on a peripheral road, so the town can be more quiet. Construction of these roads has been going on for decades now, with mixed results. It does create a more-quiet atmosphere in the town, but there also is a slight dip in economic activity because they don’t have as many customers driving through.
We are reaching the end of our long day’s drive, starting out from Dingle and arriving now in Kinsale. We have an entire movie all about Kinsale, as part of our series on Ireland. Be sure to look for it in our collection.