A relaxing day trip from Cork City to beautiful Muckross in County Kerry

Muckross   House and Gardens is the focus of todays trip which will take you West from Cork City, through the Gaeltacht (Irish Speaking) area of Ballyvourney and ending at the stunning Muckross House and Gardens which are located in Killarney, County Kerry.
Great information including opening times and prices on www.muckross-house.ie

Killarney is about a 90 minute drive (53 miles) west of Cork.  Be warned, Killarney town is INCREDIBLY touristy but it has a nice buzz. I must say, I love the area.   Muckross house and gardens on the banks of Lough Leane is a stunning location and is signposted once you hit Killarney town.     

The trip to Killarney from Cork is very pleasant , it begins on a super dual carriage (N22) west out of the city, and changes at will from good single lane roads to quirky narrow versions soon after you pass through the town of Macroom.   

As you near Killarney and pass through the tiny hamlet of Glenflesk, the mountains are in view and you know you are in County Kerry.   Note on your way a very nice traditional pub called ‘ The Mills Inn’ which is right on the side of the road in the village of Ballyvourney.   Lots of parking in the rear of this pub and I highly recommend it for Breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch and especially an evening meal.   You eat at bar tables and the food is traditional, welcome and not expensive.   The staff are very friendly

The magnificent Muckross House (97 rooms, 25 of which are bedrooms) rests in the 11,000 acre Killarney National Park. An official tour of Muckross house is available and once the tour is over you can saunter through several parts of the house again on your own.  (There is an entrance charge to Muckross – see the website)

If you are not interested in historic homes or you are traveling with young children who will not appreciate it then give the house tour a skip.  Other wise they will be bored and YOU will be stressed!

A beautiful walk through the grounds  - about 30-45 minutes (depending on your motivation) will take you to Torc Mountain and Waterfall which is a special place using the lovely waterfall as a photographic backdrop. You can climb out on the rocks beneath the waterfall for better photos.

There is also a traditional farm exhibit near the house. If you are into seeing old-time farms and cottages, then this is the place for you. Otherwise I suggest you skip it.  Kids might enjoy it more as it has a small selection of farm animals.  Personally I just found it a little bit kitsch.

There are two main entrances into Muckross House and ample free parking is available.     There is an ok Self Service restaurant at Muckross House if you are feeling hungry.   If it’s a nice day organise to bring a picnic of crusty bread, cheese and other goodies with you and munch them while sitting on your own private section of the 11,000 acres of greenery !

While you are in Killarney and if you have about 2 hours to spare I THOROUGHLY RECOMMEND that you extend your visit to include a drive to the Gap of Dunloe.     The Gap of Dunloe is a wild and rugged gap excavated by forging ice flows during the last ice age. It is sign posted off the R562 road to Killorglin.

You can park (Free) at Kate Kearneys Cottage (which is a pub - signposted) and although you can drive through the gap I recommend that if it is a nice day you leave the car at Kates and walk for as long as you can manage through the gap.   It is a narrow public road, but it is beautiful and great photo opportunities there, particularly at the gap itself. The walk to the gap may take you 60 minutes.

On a pleasant day, bring a picnic and you can sit anywhere by the side of the road and admire the views.  There are plenty of rocks here for your picnic chairs and tables.  Alternatively have something to eat and/or drink at Kate Kearneys and while the food is certainly not gourmet, a basket of chips, a few sandwiches and a coffee or a drink will certainly keep the hunger pangs at bay. You will not be disappointed.

  • Suggested Timeline:
    Leave Cork 8am
    Arrive Ballyvourney 9am – Have breakfast or Coffee at the Mills (optional)
    Arrive Killarney (without stop) 9:30am
    Arrive Muckross house 9:45am
    Muckross House and Gardents until 2pm
    Leave Muckross 2pm, Arrive Kate Kearneys 2:30pm
    Walk to the Gap and back 2 hours
    Leave Kate Kearneys 4:30pm
    Back in Cork City 6pm

You can get guided tours to Killarney and Muckross at www.buseireann.com or you can DIY it by taking a scheduled bus from Cork Bus Station to Killarney.   There is a bus every hour to and from.    You will have to walk, hitch a ride or get a taxi from Killarney to Muckross House which is about 3.6 miles (6Km) outside the town.