The Lakes of Killarney
Lough Leane, the Lower Lake, is the largest of the three famous Lakes of Killarney, the other two being Muckross Lake (the Middle Lake) and the Upper Lake. Killarney town centre is about a mile from the shores of Lough Leane.
To get to the lake itself, take the Muckross Road towards Kenmare and turn right into Ross Road, down past the Killarney Racecourse and on to Ross Castle. Dúchas, the Irish heritage department, did a lot of restoration work to the castle during the late 1990s, and now offers guided tours through the main apartments.
Ross Castle, on the shores of Lough Leane, was built in the15th century by the O’Donoghues. One of the most photographed of all Irish castles, this picture was taken from the boat at the start of the lake tour.
Ross Castle was the last stronghold in Ireland to be taken by Cromwell’s army, finally falling in the 17th century. On hearing the legend that the castle could never be taken by land, the army approached the castle by boat across the lake and the castle guards surrendered without a battle.
After visiting the castle, take a tour of the Lower Lake on one of the water buses, which do not have to be booked in advance for the casual visitor. A recorded commentary is available in several languages, or listen to the captain’s own version – much more interesting!
The lake tour
Boats tied up near Ross Castle, waiting to take passengers on a fishing trip or a tour of the lakes.
Various agencies in Killarney can arrange a full tour of the Lakes and the Gap of Dunloe. This is a full-day trip, leaving Ross Castle in the morning and travelling by open boat for 14 miles through all three lakes, stopping for lunch at Lord Brandon’s cottage at the top of the Upper Lake and then taking a pony and trap for another 7 miles over the mountains and through the Gap. Alternatively, most of the lake shore is accessible on foot to those who enjoy exploring for themselves.
“The bridge of the little trout”, through which boats pass between Lough Leane and Muckross Lake.
The Old Weir Bridge
When the water level in the lakes is low, passengers have to disembark and walk a short distance through the woods, meeting the boat on the other side of the bridge.
Originally a hunting lodge on the lake shore near the Old Weir Bridge, Dinis Cottage was, for a time, a small restaurant.
After negotiating the narrows under the bridge, one of the tour boats heads for the jetty to pick up its passengers again.
The Meeting of the Waters
This photograph was taken from the boat, after re-embarking.
This lucky photograph was taken one morning, as a rainbow appeared over Castlelough Bay, Lough Leane. Torc Mountain can be seen in the background.
Shamrocks really do grow in Ireland! These were seen in the woods at the foot of Torc Mountain.
One of the most popular tourist attractions, Torc waterfall can be seen after a short walk through the woods from the main Killarney to Kenmare road.
This shady pool can be seen in the woods along the shore of Lough Leane. Deer coming for an evening drink had left tracks around the edges of the pool.
The Killarney National Park covers the whole of the lakeland area and up into the mountains. Wild red deer roam through the park, together with the smaller Sika deer, a 19th century introduction. This little deer was was captured on camera while taking a morning stroll beside the lough.