Killarney City Guide

One of Ireland's best known tourist destinations, the town of Killarney lies next to the boundary of the National Park on its north-eastern edge. Killarney’s name comes from "Chill Airne", which means "church of the sloe". The church’s original site was thought to be the location of the present day St. Mary's Church of Ireland. The amazing scenery in the area, featuring the lakes, has been the foundation of a tourism industry that has been operating in Killarney for more than 200 years. A royal visit by Queen Victoria to the area in 1861 is thought to be the start of the large-scale tourism that is known today. Killarney has had purpose and design from the beginning. The town represents an early example of town planning. The then major local landowners, the Earls of Kenmare, took a sharp interest in the development of the town. Thomas Browne, the 4th Viscount of Kenmare, is most often credited with the development and extension of the original center area of the town in the mid 1700’s, and many early visitors were impressed by the improvements such as wide, paved and regular streets made at Lord Kenmare's expense. The most impressive building in the town is the Cathedral. The Cathedral was designed by Pugin and, after more than eighty years of construction, work finally haulted in the 1920's. Although the town itself is quite smallish, the thriving tourism industry means that the population of the town grows considerably during the summer months. The total annual number of visitors to Killarney reaches more than one million. It is estimated that up to 75% of these will spend at least some of their stay within the National Park. Unlike exclusively seasonal sites, Killarney welcomes visitors throughout the year. Not all attractions go year round, however. Some attractions will be closed and several activities will not be held in the off-season. The height of the tourist season (for most services) in Killarney runs from St. Patrick's Day until late fall.