Killarney is a beautiful town located beside some of the most splendid mountains, forests and lakes in Ireland. It’s a town of commerce and attracts a lot of visitors. However, in saying that, although it is a large urban area Killarney is not considered a city in Ireland.
In the Republic of Ireland there are only a handful of large settlements that have received city status. Killarney has never been a city and probably won’t be anytime soon. For its small size though it has an extremely vibrant energy and tourists are rarely if ever bored here. Killarney is just south of the town Tralee. Tralee is a larger settlement that also doesn’t constitute a city, in fact the nearest cities are dozens of miles away.
For many North American any urban settlement is considered a city. However, in Ireland most urban settlements are simply called towns or villages depending on size. Only a few settlements (mostly quite large) on the island are called cities.
Closet Cities to Killarney
Killarney is about an hour and thirty minute drive to Cork city, with Limerick city on the other hand being about an hour and forty drive away.
Cork city is a dynamic city located south east of Killarney. If you don’t fancy to be nestled in the countryside and prefer to see what an Irish city is like then Cork is the answer. The city rests on the River Lee and is rich in culture. There are numerous bars and restaurants in the city, with Washington Street being a great spot for people to enjoy the nightlife that this city has to offer.
The outskirts and surrounding areas offer some of the best attractions in the region. Firstly, you have Blarney which now falls within Cork’s city limits. Blarney is a lovely little town that is home to the famous Blarney Stone. Kiss it and you are meant to develop the gift of the gab (the ability to never run out of things to say).
The beautiful town of Cobh is just south of the city. This is a town that has a lot of history, being quiet an important point for British military presence in Ireland. Nearby Spike Island was retained by the British after Independence was achieved by the Irish Free State in the early 1920’s. It wasn’t until the 1930’s did the island return to the Irish.
The Island was originally held on by the British, because they wanted a place to patrol the nearby waters. The area was a hotbed for German U-boat activity in the First World War and the British were keen on keeping a stronghold in this area.
Cork City is also home to the Ireland’s second busiest airport. It services dozens of routes that fly all over the world.
Limerick city, as mentioned, is also quiet close to Killarney. Like Cork city it has a nearby airport that is quiet busy. Shannon airport is just a 30 minute drive from Limerick and also has a bus that services it from the city.
One of the major attractions of Limerick is the beautiful King John’s Castle. A beautiful castle in the heart of the city that has been recently redeveloped. The castle is a massive draw for tourists, where people can learn more about what medieval Ireland was like.
Limerick is also home to a range of great pubs and restaurants. If you are fortunate enough to go to Limerick on a hot summer’s day, then checking out the Locke Bar along the riverfront is a must. This place is a perfect location if you want to enjoy a pint.
Other Small Cities in Ireland
Killarney’s population is just over 14,000. This places it very much in the category of a typical Irish town. It actually falls short of the smallest city in the Republic of Ireland in population which is the city of Waterford. Waterford has a population of almost 54,000 people which is still quiet small relatively speaking, but much greater than Killarney.
Another Irish settlement however, of an even smaller size to Killarney, once had city status. Cashel, located just a few dozen miles away in County Tippeary, sported the city status for quiet some time until it eventually lost it.
Kilkenny town, which only has ten thousand more inhabitants than Killarney, has the ceremonial city title. The city status of Kilkenny has existed since 1609. Kilkenny receiving this status at the time was not a surprise as it was an important Medieval urban area at the time.
Things to do in Killarney
If you are not put off by the fact that Killarney isn’t a city and want to experience one of the best medium sized towns in Ireland, then visiting here could be one of the smartest decisions you make on your trip to Ireland.
Killarney National Park is one of the most best places to visit. The park was established in 1932 by the Muckross Estate. This vast area of over a hundred square kilometers includes all kinds of landscapes, from gardens to lakes and mountains.
One of the most attractive features of this park is that a number of interconnected lakes rest in it. These lakes are spectacular destination to stroll by. Along with lakes, another brilliant feature of the park is the woodland. A lot of the woodland is made up of oak or alder trees. In fact, it contains the Ireland’s largest bunching of native woodland. These woodlands contain a rich abundance of natural life that many walkers can appreciate on their way through them.
Japanese Sika Deer roam many parts of the area. These spotted animals originate in East Asian. Once extremely common throughout most of East Asia, they now mainly reside in Japan. Although a foreign breed, they fit in well to the surroundings and are lovely to see whilst walking throughout the grounds.
Another fascinating species of deer in the park is that of the Irish Red Deer. The herd that grazes the park is in fact the last native Red Deer in the whole country. Other herds of red deer exist in Ireland, however they do not originate here (most come from mainland Britain). Many believe that during the last ice age this native herd of deer was in existence.
Not only does Killarney have this amazing park at its doorstep, it also hosts a range amenities within its boundaries. There is an abundance of shops, restaurants and bars that serve not only the local hinterland, but also the vasts amounts of tourists that descend onto the town each year.
From April to October Killarney hosts Celtic Steps. This show is based in Killarney Race Course and hosts spectacular Irish dancing and Irish music. It is a top notch production that draws in big crowds. If you want to appreciate Irish culture, then coming here is a must.
Places to Stay in Killarney
Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa – One of the most luxurious places to stay in Killarney if you decide to visit would be the Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa. Not only is the beautiful Killarney National Park right beside it, but you will also be located close to the town center. Many of the rooms offer stunning views of woodlands and mountains in the distance.
Earls Court House – If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel in Killarney, look no further than Earls Court House. Just a 7-minute walk from central Killarney, this hotel offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, in-room breakfast, dry cleaning service, room service, quality rooms and even a book library. Additionally, the suites and deluxe king rooms include both American and European 2 pin sockets.
Black Sheep Hostel – This is probably one of the nicest hostels you’ll come across is Killarney. It is less than a fifteen minute walk from the train station and is near to the town center. The hostel exists in a renovated 19th century townhouse. Alongside this quaint setting, the accommodation provider is also kitted out with top quality features and amenities for guests. During a stay at the hostel you can expect free WiFi and also help in booking activities in the area by the staff. The hostel is also wheelchair accessible and comes with a communal guitar , chess boards and a warm fire in the evening.
If you don’t have the funds for a hotel or simply would like to meet people and have help in booking your adventure in Kerry than this is the place to go.