The Irish for castle is Caislean which translates as a fort or stronghold. Ross Castle is one of over 3000 castles that are scattered across the Irish landscape at present. Castles were used for both military and residential purposes. Indeed Ross Castle was originally built as a stronghold and defensive fort. The castle was constructed by the Gaelic O Donoghue Mor family in the late fifteenth century on the verge of the Lough Lein. Originally the castle was surrounded by a fortified bawn, its curtain walls defended by circular flanking towers, two of which remain. Much of the bawn was removed by the time the Barrack building was added on the south side of the castle sometime in the middle of the 18th century.
Today the castle is a popular tourist point for trips on the lake or to Innisfallen Island where former High King of Ireland Brian Boru was once educated. Indeed the lake was to prove the eventual downfall of the castle as local legend had it that the castle would only succumb to defeat by attack from the lake. General Ludlow on behalf of Oliver Cromwell constructed ships and armed with soliders the sight of which unnerved the defending garrison who eventually surrendered. The later Anglo-Irish owners the Browne family did not reside in the castle instead living in Kenmare House closer to Killarney town and the castle became neglected and fell into a state of decay and disrepair. The Office of Public Works on behalf of the state took over restoration of the castle and since 1993 it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Killarney.
 OPW, Ross Castle. http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-west/rosscastle/ (Date accessed 12/2/2018)
Killarney National Park was the first designated National Park of the newly independent Irish Free State. Today the National Park encompasses almost 25,500 acres of the former Herbert and Brownes Estates. The centrepiece in many respects of the park is the former residence and mansion of the Herbert family – Muckross House. Built in 1843 by Henry Herbert this Tudor style mansion has become synonymous with Killarney and the National Park the world over. With its spectacular gardens and unobstructed views of the lakes and surrounds, Muckross House is a must see for any visitor to Killarney.
For almost ninety years until the house was gifted to the state in 1932, Muckross House was the luxurious and grand residence of some of the most influential and important members of the Anglo-Irish establishment of the nineteenth and twenty century. Largely remembered as the residence which put Killarney on the map of international tourism, as a result of hosting Queen Victoria in 1861, Muckross House is a must see for any visitor to Killarney. Today under the care of the Muckross House Trustees one is free to visit and take a tour of the interior of the stately home. From this visit one can easily imagine and see first-hand the life and workings of the big house both from an upstairs and downstairs point of view.
As you meander and follow the jarvey path through Killarney National Park beginning at the Flesk Bridge you will come across one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical sites in Ireland – Muckross Abbey. The abbey of Irrelagh, or Muckross Abbey, as is it more commonly known as today, was founded for the Observatine Franciscans by Domnall McCarthy Mór circa 1448. The Franciscan Friars have had a long distinguished connection with Killarney and this all began in the middle of the fifteenth century and still continues to the present day. The McCarthy Mór’s were the prominent ruling Gaelic family in the southwest of Ireland up until the late sixteenth century. It was common for the Gaelic families at the time to act as patrons for religious orders and the McCarthy Mór’s were no different. In 1849 one traveller described the Abbey and surroundings as follows:
Notwithstanding the numerous picturesque sites which the peninsula of Muckross presents, I question whether a more beautiful one than that which it occupies could well be selected; it is so secluded and retired as to leave nothing to be desired in this respect.
Although largely in ruins by the seventeenth century due to subsequent attacks, the most prominent by British forces under General Ludlow, Muckross Abbey still charmed the foreign visitor to Killarney and remained a must see item on the itinerary for many tourists. Writing in 1872, Rev. Haskins details how:
The ruins consist of a church and monastery; and even in their present condition show a wonderful beauty and skill of workmanship. The cloister consisting of some twenty arches, is in a fine state of preservation There are tombs and graves that remind us of the holy ones now in heaven, and a huge trunked tree overhanging and shading the consecrated grounds. The main entrance is by a Gothic doorway, overgrown with ivy. Several of the grained arches are in a good state of preservation; so also are the dormitories, refectory, and kitchen of the monastery, attached..
A large yew tree still dominates the central cloister today and these trees hold a very special place in Irish history. They are often found in church yards throughout the country and indeed many townlands in Ireland derive their name from the yew tree. One example is Terenure or “Tίr an Iúir,” which means “Territory of the Yew. Many famous poets are still buried in the grounds of the abbey today including Aodhagán Ó Rathaille and Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin. Muckross Abbey has stood the test of time and after careful restoration by the Office of Public Works the abbey has largely remained intact and still is a must see on ones itinerary to Killarney.
 Handbook to the Lakes of Killarney (London, 1849), pp 55-56.
 Rev. George F. Haskins, Six Weeks Abroad in Ireland, England and Belgium (Patrick Donahoe, 1872,) pp, 116-118.