Coordinates: 52°03′32″N 9°30′26″W / 52.0588°N 9.5072°W / 52.0588; -9.5072
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cill Airne
From top, left to right: St Mary's Cathedral, High Street, Red Deer sculpture, Killarney House garden
Coat of arms of Killarney
Killarney is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Killarney is located in Europe
Killarney (Europe)
Coordinates: 52°03′32″N 9°30′26″W / 52.0588°N 9.5072°W / 52.0588; -9.5072
CouncilKerry County Council
Dáil ÉireannKerry
European ParliamentSouth
50 m (160 ft)
 • Total14,412
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)64
Irish Grid ReferenceV969909
Map of Killarney

Killarney (/kɪˈlɑːrni/ kil-AR-nee; Irish: Cill Airne [ˌciːl̠ʲ ˈaːɾʲnʲə], meaning 'church of sloes') is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is on the northeastern shore of Lough Leane, part of Killarney National Park, and is home to St Mary's Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, the Lakes of Killarney, MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Purple Mountain, Mangerton Mountain, Paps Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe and Torc Waterfall. Its natural heritage, history and location on the Ring of Kerry make Killarney a popular tourist destination.[9]

The town's population was 14,412 as of the 2022 census, making it the second largest in the county.[1] Killarney won the Best Kept Town award in 2007, in a cross-border competition jointly organised by the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Amenity Council. In 2011, it was named Ireland's tidiest town and the cleanest town in the country by Irish Business Against Litter.[10]


Early history and development[edit]

Two views of Killarney painted by a visiting artist in 1830

Killarney featured prominently in early Irish history, with religious settlements playing an important part of its recorded history. Its first significantly historical settlement was the monastery on nearby Innisfallen Island founded in 640 by St. Finian the Leper,[11] which was occupied for approximately 850 years.

Innisfallen (from Irish: Inis Faithlinn, meaning "Faithlinn's island") is an island in Lough Leane, one of the three Lakes of Killarney. It is home to the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey which was founded in 640 by St. Finian, and was occupied until the monks were dispossessed in 1594, by Elizabeth I, Queen of England. According to tradition, the Irish High King Brian Boru received his education at Innisfallen.

Aghadoe, the local townland which overlooks present day Killarney, may have begun as a pagan religious site.[12] The site has also been associated with the 5th century missionary St. Abban, but 7th century ogham stones mark the first clear evidence of Aghadoe being used as an important site.[13] According to legend, St. Finian founded a monastery at Aghadoe in the 6th or 7th century. The first written record of a monastery dates from 939 AD in the Annals of Innisfallen where the Aghadoe monastery is referred to as the "Old Abbey."[13]

Following the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, the Normans built Parkavonear Castle, also at Aghadoe. The castle was perhaps intended as an early warning outpost due to its views of the entire Killarney valley and lakes region.

Ross Castle was built on the lake shore in the late 15th century by local ruling clan the O'Donoghues Mor (Ross). Ownership of the castle changed hands during the Desmond Rebellions of the 1580s to the Mac Carty Mor.

Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor. The abbey was burned down by Cromwellian forces under General Ludlow in 1654, and today remains a ruin.

Killarney was heavily involved in the Irish War of Independence. The town, and indeed the entire county, had strong republican ties, and skirmishes with the British forces happened on a regular basis. The Great Southern Hotel was for a while taken over by the British,[14] both as an office and barracks, and to protect the neighbouring railway station. One notable event during the war was the Headford Ambush when the IRA attacked a railway train a few kilometres from town.

However, divisions among former colleagues were quick to develop following the truce and treaty, and Killarney, like many other areas, suffered in the rash of increasing atrocities during the Civil War. A day after the Ballyseedy massacre, five Republican prisoners were killed in Killarney by Free State forces.

Tourism development[edit]

Plaque commemorating the coming of the Railway to Killarney

Killarney's tourism history goes back at least to the mid 18th century, when Thomas, fourth Viscount Kenmare (Lord Kenmare), began to attract visitors and new residents to the town. The date of 1747 was used in recent 250-year celebrations to honour the history of Killarney tourism. A visit by Queen Victoria in 1861 gave the town some international exposure.

Killarney benefited greatly from the coming of the railway in July 1853. British trade directory publisher Isaac Slater noted that there were three hotels in the town in 1846[15] but by 1854, one year after the coming of the railway, James Fraser named seven hotels and described their locations:

the Railway Hotel opposite the Railway Station; the Kenmare Arms and Hibernia which are on the main street and immediately opposite the church... the Victoria which is about a mile [1.5 km] to the west of the town on the shores of the Lower Lake; the Lake View which is about the same distance to the east of the town and also on the shore of the Lower Lake; the Muckross about two and a half miles [4 km] away and near the Muckross Lake and the Torc which occupies an elevated site about a mile and a half [2.5 km] from the town on the hill which rises immediately over the Lake Hotel.[16]

Peasant home, Killarney, early 1910s

In 1858, Irish born Victorian journalist, Samuel Carter Hall named O'Sullivan's Hotel and the Innisfallen rather than the Hibernia and Torc, but Isaac Slater also named the Hibernia in 1846. At the time he was writing, tours of the Ring of Kerry were already an industry and Killarney was considered the starting point of the 175-kilometre (110 mi) circuitous route. He was fascinated by the horses' endurance on the two-day trip, and leaves clear advice for other travellers;

It is a common and wise custom of those who make this tour, and are not pressed for time, to hire the carriage at the hotel in Killarney and continue with it 'all the way round.' It is absolutely marvellous what these mountain bred horses can get through "thinking nothing" of thirty miles [50 km] for days together or even fifty miles [80 km] in a single day.[17]

As part of the trip, he noted that there were hotels in Glenbeigh and Waterville along with a "comfortable inn", which is now The Butler Arms Hotel.



Thomas Browne, 4th Viscount Kenmare founded linen mills in the 1740s as part of his efforts to increase the population and economy of Killarney. In later years, hosiery and shoe making were major industries in the town.[citation needed]

Modern employers include Liebherr Cranes, which has had a presence in Killarney since 1958, with a combined manufacturing/research and development facility in the town manufacturing container cranes. In honour of its founder, a street in Killarney was named Dr. Hans Liebherr Road.[18] Other businesses include Tricel (also known as Killarney Plastics) which was founded in 1973.[19]

In the public sector, both the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Department of Justice have offices in Killarney.[20]


Tourists near Ross Castle

Tourism is the largest industry in Killarney, generating around €410 million every year.[21] Roughly 1.1 million tourists visit the town every year, with foreign tourists making up over 60% of all visitors.[22][23]

Flower Garden at Muckross House



Killarney is served by National Primary Route N22 (north to Tralee and Castleisland and east to Cork); the National Secondary Routes N72 (west to Killorglin and east to Mallow, Fermoy, and Dungarvan) and the N71 (south to Kenmare and Bantry).


Killarney railway station (operated by Iarnród Éireann) has direct services to Tralee, Cork and Dublin, with connections to the rest of the rail network.


Bus Éireann provides bus services to Limerick (and onwards to Dublin), Tralee, Cork, Kenmare and Skibbereen.


Kerry Airport (17 km), in Farranfore between Tralee and Killarney, provides a number of air services with connecting trains running from Farranfore railway station to Killarney railway station. Cork Airport (89 km), easily accessible by bus or rail, also serves the Kerry region.


Association football[edit]

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that determines the Laws of the Game, met at the Lake Hotel in Killarney in 1905.[24]

Killarney has three football clubs—all of which compete in the Kerry District League.

Killarney Athletic A.F.C. was founded in 1965, and played its first competitive game in the Desmond League as a youth team. It entered a junior team at the start of 1966.[citation needed] In the early 1970s, the club became a founding club of the Kerry District League (KDL). Originally the club played in the centre of Killarney, but have since moved to a modern facility (with two pitches) in the Woodlawn area of the town.[citation needed]

Killarney Celtic was founded in 1976. The club purchased their own ground in 1993 and have invested in their facilities since then.[25] There is a grass pitch and a FIFA 1-star full-size synthetic all-weather pitch (both floodlit to match standard), a 50 x 80 meter grass training pitch and a 70 x 35 metre synthetic training pitch which is also fully floodlit.[citation needed]

Cedar Galaxy was formed in 2011 and play in the Kerry District League Division 2B. The team were promoted to Division 2A for the 2013/2014 campaign.[citation needed]

Gaelic games[edit]

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry GAA branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in 1888. Kerry's county hurling and county football teams play at the Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, which opened in 1936 and has capacity for 43,180 spectators.

Killarney has three Gaelic football clubs: Dr Crokes, Killarney Legion and Spa. The rural hinterland has a large number of football teams, such as Kilcummin, Fossa, Firies, Glenflesk and Gneeveguilla. All these teams compete in the Kerry County league and the East Kerry Senior Football Championship (O'Donoghue Cup) and league.

Dr. Crokes is the most successful of these teams, winning the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 1992 and the Munster Senior Club Football Championship in 1991, 1990 and 2007. The club has also won the County Championship on 7 separate occasions, including in 2010. Dr. Crokes is the only club in Killarney with a hurling team; it won the Kerry Intermediate Hurling Championship in 1999 and 2001.[citation needed]


There are six rowing clubs in the town, who share a common history in Ireland's oldest surviving regatta, the Killarney Regatta, which is held annually on the first or second Sunday in July. The six clubs are Commercial RC (Killarney), Flesk Valley RC, Fossa RC, Muckross RC, St. Brendan's RC and Workmen RC. The style of rowing seen at the regatta is traditional, fixed seat rowing in wide, wooden six-person boats. Since the 1980s, a number of the clubs have moved toward coastal type rowing and modern 'slide' or Olympic style rowing.[citation needed]

Muckross Rowing Club is the largest of the clubs, having developed into a full-time 'sliding' club with 32 National Championships (since 1996) at various levels from Junior to Senior. A number of members of the club have also been selected to row for Ireland and have competed at the Home International Regatta, Coupe de la Jeunesse, World Rowing Championships and Olympic Games. Paul Griffin, Sean Casey and Cathal Moynihan members of Muckross Rowing Club, are Olympic and Irish World Championship rowers.[citation needed]


Killarney RFC play in the Munster Junior League. The club's 1st XV won promotion to Division 2 in 2009–10.[26] while the same season the club fielded a 2nd XV for the first time. The club has also a large youth and underage set-up catering for all young enthuasists from the town and surrounding areas.


Killarney Golf & Fishing Club attracts various national competitions such as the Irish Open. The Ross Golf Course is a 9-hole golf course less than one mile from the centre of the town.

Other sports[edit]

Killarney Racecourse is located just outside the town and holds flat and national hunt meetings.

The Ring of Kerry Cycle, a charity cycle around the Ring (175 km) takes place every first Saturday in July.[citation needed] There is also a club in Killarney called Killarney Cycling Club.[citation needed]

St. Paul's Killarney Basketball Club, established in 1985, has youth teams and a senior national league team that plays in the Irish Basketball Division one league.[citation needed] Killarney is also the home of Irish floorball.[27]

In popular culture and music[edit]

In 1900 the composer Cyril Rootham wrote his Op.8 "Four Impressions (Killarney)" for solo violin and small orchestra.[28] The work was never published, but Rootham later arranged the work for pianoforte duet (Op.8 No.2, unpublished) and for violin and piano (Op.8.No.3, published in 1902 as "Impressions pour Violon et Piano").[29]

At the beginning of the 20th century, many songs which romanticized Ireland made direct mention of Killarney. Examples included "My Father Was Born In Killarney - Don’t Run Down The Irish" (1910), "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" (1914) and "For Killarney and you" (1910).[30][31][32]

"There's Only the One Killarney" is a song that was written by Irish songwriter Dick Farrelly and recorded by Irish tenor Patrich O'Hagan. Killarney also appears in "How Can You Buy Killarney," written by Kennedy, Steels, Grant and Morrison, and recorded by Joseph Locke, among others. Killarney is also mentioned in "Christmas in Killarney" (written by Redmond, Cavanaugh and Weldon) and "Did Your Mother Come From Ireland?" (written by Kennedy and Carr), both most notably recorded by Bing Crosby. "Some Say the Devil Is Dead" by Derek Warfield contains the line "Some say the devil is dead and buried in Killarney/ More say he rose again and joined the British Army."[33] In the chorus of Celtic rock band Gaelic Storm's song Raised on Black and Tans, the singer declares his Irish heritage by saying "my mother’s brother’s sister’s cousin’s auntie’s Uncle Barney’s father’s brother had a cousin from Killarney."

Van Morrison references the town in the opening lines of his 1974 song "Fair Play" off of his album Veedon Fleece: "Fair play to you / Killarney's lakes are so blue / And the architecture I'm taking in with my mind / So fine."

In 2013 Colin O'Sullivan published a novel called Killarney Blues, set in his native town and for which he was awarded the "Prix Mystère de la critique" in 2018.[34][35]

Notable people[edit]

Memorial to members of the 2nd Kerry Brigade of the IRA who died in the Irish War of Independence

International relations[edit]

Killarney is twinned with:

Italy Castiglione di Sicilia, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Germany Pleinfeld, Bavaria, Germany
North Carolina United States Concord, North Carolina, United States
Florida United States Cooper City, Florida, United States
Illinois United States Springfield, Illinois, United States
South Carolina United States Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, United States
Arizona United States Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
England Kendal, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom
Sweden Staffanstorp, Scania, Sweden
Italy Casperia, Rieti, Lazio, Italy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Interactive Data Visualisations: Towns: Killarney". CSO Ireland. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  2. ^ "Census for post 1821 figures". Archived from the original on 9 March 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  4. ^ NISRA. "Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency - Census Home Page". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  5. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Sapmap Area - Settlements - Killarney". Census 2016. CSO. 2016. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Census 2022 | Profile 1 - Population Distribution and Movement | F1015 - Population". Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  9. ^ "Best Destinations in Ireland - Travellers' Choice Awards - TripAdvisor".
  10. ^ "Killarney named Ireland's tidiest town". RTÉ News. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Saint Finian, surnamed Lobhar, or the Leper. March 16. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints". Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  12. ^ Long, Tom. "Tracing Our Faith." Fossa & Aghadoe: Our Heritage and History. ed. Jim Larner. Fossa Historical Society. 2007. ISBN 978-0-9557739-0-7. p 1.
  13. ^ a b Long, 1.
  14. ^ "Notes of Joe Wilkie - Killarney memories- page 2". Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  15. ^ Slater, Isaac. Slater's Directory. 1846.
  16. ^ Fraser, James. Guide to Killarney. 1854
  17. ^ Hall, Carter. A Week in Killarney. 1858
  18. ^ O'Mahony, John (1 November 2021). "Liebherr was heading for Mallow… but Killarney locals had other ideas". Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  19. ^ "Tricel Killarney". Tricel Eu. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Financial Shared Services". Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  21. ^ "1.1 million visitors to Killarney, but new report also sees tourism threats". independent. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  22. ^ Lucey, Anne (13 February 2018). "Killarney tops with overseas and local visitors". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  23. ^ Sheehy, Paschal (12 February 2018). "Tourism worth €400m to Killarney annually - report". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ "Minutes of the Annual General Meeting" (PDF). From the archives of the International Football Association Board.
  25. ^ "Killarney Celtic Football Club". 19 January 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  26. ^ "Heroic Killarney win promotion". The Kingdom. 15 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ ""Four impressions (Killarney): miniatures for violin solo and small orchestra by Cyril B. Rootham" - manuscript in the Library of St John's College, Cambridge". July 1900. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  29. ^ "Impressions pour Violon et Piano". Bosworth & Co. 1902. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  30. ^ "My father was born in Killarney [music] : (don't run down the Irish)". Trove. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  31. ^ "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra that's an Irish lullaby". Library of Congress. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  32. ^ "For Killarney and you". Library of Congress. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Some Say The Devil Is Dead". 25 May 1944. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  34. ^ "Killarney Blues by Colin O'Sullivan". Betimes Books. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  35. ^ Plougastel, Yann (16 March 2018). "Franz Bartelt et Colin O'Sullivan Prix Mystère de la Critique 2018". Le Monde. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  36. ^ "Kerry solicitor says more people seeking legal remedies after assault during a game". Radio Kerry. 12 October 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  37. ^ "Kerry actress Jessie Buckley on partying with Paul Mescal, missing her family and Romeo and Juliet". Independent News & Media. 4 April 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  38. ^ "Paul Coghlan celebrates with tea and toast after narrow Seanad win". Irish Examiner. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  39. ^ Mahoney, Donny (2019). Colm 'Gooch' Cooper: Great Irish Sports Stars. O'Brien Press Ltd. ISBN 9781788490856.
  40. ^ McLachlan, N D (1966). "Eagar, Edward (1787–1866)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 1. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. pp. 343–344. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  41. ^ "Blood, Sweat, Tears". The Irish Times. 5 April 2008. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  42. ^ "History - Dick Fitzgerald". Fitzgerald Stadium. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  43. ^ "Sean Kelly's father dies at his home near Killarney". The Kerryman. Independent News & Media. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  44. ^ "Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan dies at 57". BBC News. 23 February 2022. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  45. ^ "'Chris Kamara Said On Live TV That I Was The Next Roy Keane'". 31 May 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  46. ^ "Brendan's brilliant voyage... and it's not finished yet". The Kerryman. Independent News & Media. 25 April 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  47. ^ "Killarney man Paul Nagle on his hopes of becoming world champ alongside Kris Meeke down the road". 24 December 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  48. ^ "O'Carroll stepping back to go forward". Independent News & Media. 27 December 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  49. ^ Fleming, Brian (2008). The Vatican Pimpernel: the wartime exploits of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty. Wilton, Cork: Collins Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-905172-57-3.
  50. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Gillian O'Sullivan". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009.
  51. ^ "O'Sullivan, Professor John M." . Thom's Irish Who's Who . Dublin: Alexander Thom and Son Ltd. 1923. p. 199  – via Wikisource.

External links[edit]