Cycle Killarney National Park
Taking in Muckross Abbey, Brickeen Bridge, Dinis Cottage, Meeting of the Waters, Old Weir Bridge, Torc Waterfall, Muckross House & Gardens and Muckross Traditional Farms
Directly opposite our Cycling Killarney depot is the cycle path to the National Park. After passing fine views of Loch Lein, our first stop is Muckross Abbey – look out for it on your left. At the Y-junction turn left for about 200 yards to the abbey.
Built in 1448, Muckross Abbey was founded as a Franciscan friary by local chieftain Donal McCarthy Mor. It contains tombs of Gaelic chieftains, eerie chambers and gloomy staircases. It was here in 1588 that Florence McCarthy married his cousin, Lady McCarthy, in a secret midnight wedding.
Several monks were murdered when the abbey was looted and burnt by Cromwellian soldiers in 1652.
A mysterious hermit lived for many years in the upstairs kitchen. History, intrigue, scary bits – it’s all here.
After visiting Muckross Abbey return to the Y-junction and continue on your route to Dinis Cottage. From here the road passes in and out of lush, mossy woodlands, punctuated by constantly changing views of the lakes and mountains. Keep right to stay on course.
As you leave the wooded area you will get your first glimpse of Muckross House on your left. Don’t be tempted to visit it at this point as we will be closer to it on the return journey.
Soon passing a pretty pink cottage and Arthur Vincent House, you enter the Natural Zone of the National Park, the realm of native woods and deer. A little lake on the right marks a geological divide from limestone to sandstone. Notice how vegetation and tree types change abruptly. After Brickeen Bridge, where the water flows from Muckross Lake to the Lower Lake, you arrive at Dinis Island. Immediately after leaving the cottage you cross a little bridge. On your right you will notice signs for the Meetings of the Waters and the Old Weir Bridge. It’s worth taking the five-minute walk for the views and photo opportunities. If you happen to be there in the early afternoon, you will see the boats returning from the Gap of Dunloe tour. Take note that the Dinis road is a one-way system. 1.6km ahead is the main road. Turn left and beware of vehicles on the main road. Not suitable for small children – please exercise caution Another 800m brings you to Torc Waterfall. After viewing the spectacular, cascading waterfall, cross the main road, though the jaunting car parking area and into the National Park.
I would highly recommend using Killarney Bike Rental, as it’s just so easy to get around.Marcus Ryan
The next stop is Muckross House, Muckross Gardens and the Traditional Farms. Muckross House is a Victorian mansion built by Henry Arthur Herbert in 1843. Following turbulent times, the house, gardens and lands were gifted to the Irish nation by the then owner Arthur Vincent in 1932. Among the famous visitors that stayed at Muckross House were Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, King Edward VII, British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, Empress Eugenie of France, George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats.
The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens. They are particularly colourful in May when the rhododendron is in bloom. Adjacent to Muckross House are Muckross Traditional Farms. Step back into the past and visit a very different Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s. Then, a trip to the well for water was still a daily chore for the housewife and electricity had yet to be introduced to the countryside.
While admission to the Gardens is free, there is a charge for entry to the House and Traditional Farms. Leave Muckross House by the tree-lined avenue in front of the house and you will find yourself back at the junction where you turned for Dinis Cottage. Keep right, following directions for Muckross Abbey and Killarney town.
This route can be done on a National Park path, away from the road, so is ideal for families!
Toilets are located at Muckross House, Torc Waterfall and Dinis Cottage
Lunch and snacks can be purchased at Muckross Garden Restaurant and Dinis Cottage