Killarney National Park - May 27th, 2012

First thing we did was drive to the Muckross House when the gates opened. Muckross House itself does not open until 9:00 AM, but the gates open earlier so we were able to enjoy a morning walk throughout the extensive gardens. There is an arboretum inside the garden area, so the trails took us amongst trees as well as rhododendrons.

Our goal for the day was to do the hike completely around Muckross Lake (Muckross is the smaller lake - Leane Lough is much too big to circumnavigate in one day of hiking.) But before we embarked on that hike, we walked over to the ruins of Muckross Abbey. This old Franciscan monastery seemed to be in better shape than some of the other Abbey we saw, despite the fact that it too had lost its roof when King Henry VIII order the dissolution of all the monasteries so that he could steal the church lands and treasures. From the description of strict living conditions at the Abbey, it did not sound like an appealing life, but perhaps compared to the life of a peasant or commoner in the feudal system, being a monk wasn't so bad. At least you learned to read and write.

The hike around Muckross Lake is flat. The trail runs along the lakeshore most of the way, and we were usually in sight of the water. At the far western end of the lake is Dinis Cottage, which today is a small snack house. Behind the Cottage is the confluence of two rivers called The Meeting of the Waters. The two rivers then drain into Muckross Lake. Just behind that point is a short side trail to the Old Weir Bridge.

We continued along the southern shore and returned to the Muckross House. We took a guided tour of the elaborate Victorian mansion, but no photographs were allowed of the interior.

To finish our day we returned to Ross Castle and took the short loop trails out onto Ross Island that lead to an ancient copper mine and then over to Library Point. We did get a few drops of rain on us at this point of day, so it was clear that our streak of fantastic Irish weather might be ending very soon.

This map shows our hiking routes for the day.

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Muckross Gardens

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Lake Hike

Muckross House

Ross Island