Standing guard over the lake, this silent ruin provides a glimpse of life in an Ireland that was often a land of warring clans.
Whether arriving by boat after your trip through the Gap of Dunloe or by land along the Kerry Way, find historic Ross Castle standing serenely over beautiful Lough Leane. See a very well-preserved example of a medieval castle from outside and in.
Look for a square stone tower surrounded by the remains of a defensive wall. Two of the original flanking towers are still standing. The castle was built in the 15th century by the O’Donoghue clan and became this family’s ancestral home. Inside, see furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries and learn about the routines of daily life in a castle.
Climb the circular stone staircase. Note that the steps were built as different heights to break the stride of attackers climbing them. The first floor was a storage room. The second floor was the sleeping room of the staff and guards, on beds made of bunches of straw on the ground. The kitchen was on the third floor with additional living and sleeping space.
The top floor of Ross Castle, with the bedchamber and living room of the chieftain and his family, has a vaulted ceiling. On the top floor, the most secure, find the Great Hall, which has an authentic fireplace, kitchen, minstrels’ gallery and large windows looking over the surrounding countryside.
Visit the inside of Ross Castle by paying to join a 40-minute guided tour, offered daily from March to October. See the intricate defense mechanisms of the building, learn about the more intimate parts of castle life and hear the tales of military struggles spanning centuries in this part of Ireland, with warring clans taking over the castle one after the other. Without the tour, you can still roam the grounds.
Find Ross Castle 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) south of Killarney in Killarney National Park. Walk or bike from the town on the Kerry Way. Along the way you’ll have spectacular views of the surroundings. Alternatively take a bus or have a relaxed trip with horse and buggy. Take a boat tour to Innisfallen Island for additional views of the castle and rolling hills.