Kilgarvan (Irish: Cill Garbháin, meaning "church of St. Garbhan" is a small village situated on the banks of the Roughty River which flows into Kenmare Bay. By car, the village is a ten-minute trip from Kenmare, and thirty minutes from Killarney.
Kilgarvan was the site of the Battle of Callan in 1261 which reduced Norman power in Ireland for almost 300 years. The battle site is located in the townland of Callan (pronounced Collon).
Nearby the town are the ruins of "Ardtully House". This house, built in castle style by the wealthy landowner Sir Richard John Theodore Orpen (1788-1876), Knight of Ardtully, in 1847.
It replaced a number of earlier structures, dating as far back as 1215. It was associated with a number of families including Carew, McCarthy, Dillon, Babbington and Conway. Only ruins remain as it was burned down in 1921 during the Irish War of Independence. Directions on how to find the Castle are painted on the wall of a house on Kilgaravan Main Street. Kilgarvan is home to a Coillte Millennium Forest at Rossacroo-na-loo. It is also home to a motor museum with a collection of vintage and classic cars.
Gaelic games, including Hurling and Gaelic football, are played in Kilgarvan; with Kilgarvan GAA fielding several teams in a season. Kilgarvan retained its intermediate title in 2007 and made history by becoming the first Kerry hurling team to win a Munster Club hurling game at any level in over forty years. Kilgarvan continued in the Munster Junior Club Hurling Championship in 2008 and reached the Munster final becoming the first Kerry hurling team ever to do so. Kilgarvan has its own GAA pitch and facilities including an all weather training track and dressing rooms, extensive drainage work was carried out on the pitch in 2008.
It is an ideal touring base for Gougane Barra, west Cork, the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. It offers visitors stunning walks and hikes, including the Coillte Millennium Forest at Rossacroo-na-loo (with some of the oldest oak trees in Ireland).
Kilgarvan offers an eclectic mix of attractions, activities and events. The annual music festival in June and the Kilgarvan Annual Fair in August are the highlights of the village year.
Kilgarvan Motor Museum has a wide and interesting range of old cars and hosts car rallies. Opened since 1985, the Mitchells have lovingly restored vintage and classic cars, including Rolls Royce, Bentley, Alvis, and an Armstrong Siddeley is displayed alongside a large collection of automobilia. During this period visitors from all over the world have visited them, many of them part of a club and even bringing their own cars.
Plan a fun musical holiday with Kerry Fiddles who offer a unique chance to learn the Irish fiddle at morning classes, explore the countryside in the afternoon and spend most evenings at sessions in and around Kenmare.
As well as a wide variety of scenic mountain and river walks, Kilgarvan also offers a selection of outdoor activities. Fishing here is a hidden secret with a good run of grilse and a small run of spring salmon in the Roughty River. Information and fishing permits can be obtained from The Kilgarvan Roughty Anglers Club. The River Valley Stables offer visitors a chance to trek back into majestic and River Valley Stables offer visitors a chance to trek back into the majestic mountains of South Kerry.
In the village, you will find two village stores, one with a post office and filling station. The Village Grill provides basic meals and takeaways and there are six pubs, some with live music.
Or venture slightly further out of town to Ireland’s highest pub, Top Of Coom which has long been a haunt of musicians, singers, drinkers, hill walkers, spoofers, poets, sheep farmers and bikers, to name but a few. There is also a welcoming and friendly selection of accommodation providers who will always have their doors open waiting for you.