Ross Castle in Killarney National Park, is a 15th Century Fortress built by one of the O’Donoghue Ross Gaelic Chieftains, on the Shores of Lough Lein, the largest of the famous Killarney Lakes. An imposing feature, and just 2 Km outside the town centre.
Many years after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, the Castle was for the first time occupied by the Browne family. For his loyalty to King James II, Sir Valentine Browne was given the title, 1st Viscount Kenmare – predecessor to Thomas 4th Viscount Kenmare – the acknowledged founder of Killarney Town (1754) and the father of Irish Tourism.
Having served as a residence for the “Kenmare” Family and subsequently as an Army Barracks, the Castle was finally vacated in 1825. It is now under the ownership of the OPW and opened the public. There are beautiful walks surrounding the Castle. It is situated on Ross Island, walks include, the Coppermines Trail, Library Point, Govenor’s Rock.
A very popular walk and cycle starts at St Mary’s Cathedral, (edge of the town) starting at the King’s Bridge, Killarney National Park, and a 2km path takes you to the Castle. Sights of the entire lake, McGillycuddy’s Reeks, Torc and Mangerton Mountains and famous Innisfallen Island where the Annals of Innisfallen were written by the Augustinian Monks in the 9th Century.
There is an abundance of rare Flora and Fauna along the paths, The Irish Red Deer roam freely – our largest and the only native species to Ireland. They are believed to have had a continuous presence in Killarney since the end of the last Ice Age (c. 10,000 BC). Angling and boat hire are very popular from the pier at Ross Castle. Three of the Towns 6 Rowing Clubs embark from the nearby Boathouses. The Annual Regatta is now the oldest traditional Regatta in the World.