Ross Castle

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The Irish had a prophecy that Ross could never be taken until a warship could swim on the lake, an unbelievable prospect. 

Ross Castle sits on the edge of Killarney's lower lake. The castle is really impressive and strikes an amazing silhouette against the lake. This is such an amazing location that just adds to the crown of Killarney. 

You can access the castle from Killarney town, approx 5 minutes by car from the centre of town along the Muckross road. Or a lovely walk through the Desmense from the cathedral side of town which will give you a lovely stroll for approx 45 minutes through the town side national park.

The castle is actually more a keep than a castle, but its known as Ross castle. This must be one of the prettiest locations for a castle. Right on the banks of Lough Leane. (Lake of Learning).

The castle was restored back in the late 80's and now serves as a museum with a nice tour of the castle as it would have looked back in the day.

You can rent boats from the pier, if you can row, or you can get tours from the boatmen, who can regale you with tall tales and historical tidbits.

In the middle of the lake you can visit Innisfallen island with the ruins of a monastery and a college.
There is also the copper mines trail... not to be missed. A circular walk starting and ending at the castle, which will lead you to some amazing views of the lake such as governors rock and library point.

Ross Castle or "Caisleán an Rois" in Irish is a 15th-century tower house and keep. It was built by O'Donoghue Mór in the 15th century. It is the ancestral home of the O`Donoghue clan.

Ownership changed hands during the Second Desmond Rebellion of the 1580s to the MacCarthy Mor. He then leased the castle and the lands to Sir Valentine Browne who became the Earls of Kenmare and owned an extensive portion of the lands that are now part of Killarney National Park .

The castle was amongst the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads during the Irish Confederate Wars, and was only taken when artillery was brought by boat via the River Laune. Lord Muskerry (MacCarty) held the castle against General Ludlow who marched to Ross with 4000 foot soldiers and 200 horse; however, it was by water that he attacked the stronghold.

The Irish had a prophecy that Ross could never be taken until a warship could swim on the lake, an unbelievable prospect. The sight of the 'ships' unnerved the onlookers and the castle soon submitted.

At the end of the wars, the Brownes were able to show that their heir was too young to have taken part in the rebellion and they retained the lands. By about 1688, they had erected a mansion house near the castle, but their adherence to James11 of England caused them to be exiled. The castle became a military barracks, which remained so until early in the 19th century. The Brownes did not return to live at Ross but built Kenmare House near Killarney.

There is a legend that O'Donoghue leaped or was sucked out of the window of the grand chamber at the top of the castle and disappeared into the waters of the lake along with his horse, his table and his library. It is said that O'Donoghue now lives in a great palace at the bottom of the lake where he keeps a close eye on everything that he sees.

On the first morning of May every seven years he rises from the lake on his magnificent white horse and circles the lake. Anyone catching a glimpse of him is said to be assured of good fortune for the rest of their lives. The large rock at the entrance to the bay is known as O'Donoghue's prison. 

Today Ross castle is beautiful. It has fallen apart but still a site to see. The view of the mountain range from this castle is absolutely amazing. Its magnificently eery. Its entire antiquated structure nestled by the lower lake of the Killarney National Park, is a definite must see for you castle junkies. With its cannon showing above, you can feel the history unfold in your mind. The park surrounding the castle is great for families of all ages. A definite must see while in Killarney.

Situated on a lake with a magical view this castle triggers the imagination. You tend to stand and stare at it and drift back in time and imagine who used to live there and the life that they would have led. The walls and facade are incredible and you can walk all the way around it. Some great photos to be taken here. An enchanting destination not to be missed.

The tour guides are most informative and despite the castle being very small the amount of information that you are given is fabulous. One point to remember... If you are ever in the area during a clear evening, especially in the late spring, summer or early autumn get down there for the sunset. I have met people who have travelled from Cork city on a clear evening just to witness the stunning sunset as it drops below the mountains and reflects on the lake... You won`t regret or forget it. I promise.

Ross Castle is open to the public. Details from Ross Castle, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Telephone No: +353 64 6635851 Fax: +353 64 6635852 Email:


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