Heading Back to Nature at Killarney National Park

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I moved to Ireland from Germany 12 years ago, lured by the wild nature and dramatic landscapes. The one place that rejuvenates me the most is the Killarney National Park. One of my all-time favourite places to relax and have a tea is Dinis Cottage. A hidden gem along on Killarney’s Middle Lake.

How to get there:

You can either walk or cycle across the Muckross peninsula to Dinis Cottage. There is a one-way route for bicycles starting as it is a narrow winding road with some dangerous bends. On your left you’ll pass by Muckross Abbey, built in the 15th century by the Franciscan Friars.

The well preserved ruins of Muckross Abbey include a church with a wide, square tower and fine windows and a vaulted cloister with an arcade of arches around a square courtyard, as well as a yew tree in the middle of the courtyard, which is said to be as old as the abbey! The graveyard around the abbey contains the graves of many famous poets from Kerry and some locals with long lineage in the area are still buried there.

Make sure to bring your camera as you’ll come across plenty of scenic opportunities en-route where you’ll be able to capture many lovely shots.

Exploring the ruins of Muckross Abbey

Take a little break at this mysterious place and explore. You’ll get a real feel for how the friars lived long ago. You can even go up the stairs and take in some amazing views over the National Park. You have to be careful if you bring small children as there are no gates on the windows upstairs

Continue on with your cycle until you see on your right side the Gardener’s Cottage.

Stop for tea & scones at Dinis Cottage

Take the turn to the right towards Dinis Cottage. Please bear in mind it is a one-way road to the Cottage and your return journey to Killarney will be on the busy N71 road for a short distance (the main Ring of Kerry Road). You’ll be on that road for a few minutes before come to an entrance on your left again for the National Park.

Make sure you stop for another little break to take in the fantastic views of Torc and Mangerton Mountains. On the other side of Bricín Bridge is Dinis Island and not too far beyond, lies Dinis Cottage.

The charming cottage was built by wealthy landowners, the Herbert family of Muckross House in the 1700. A very unusual feature are the carvings in the windows. You will see names carved into the glass, the earliest of which dates back to the mid-1800s. The tradition was that when couples got engaged, they went to Dinis Cottage to carve their names with their expensive diamond rings into the window for good luck. I wouldn’t try it today but it certainly is romantic!

Just behind the cottage, you will also see the Meeting of the Waters. The lower, middle and upper lakes meet at this spot. The Old Weir Bridge is a fantastic photo location and has been engraved into some furniture in Muckross House. It is one of the oldest structures in Killarney, dating back to somtime in the 1600s.

Bring a picnic and relax at this quiet spot or head into Dinis Cottage to taste one of their wonderful homemade cakes and have a cuppa.

Take a boat trip back through the Lakes of Killarney

If you don’t want to cycle back, you can go back to Muckross House by boat. This is highly recommended and it is normally possible to bring your bike onboard. The boats go on a regular basis and can also be arranged by the cottage staff (€10 per person).

Alternatively cycle for another 10 minutes on the narrow road until you reach the main N71. Stay on this road for approx. 2 km until you seen an entrance on the left for the National Park again. Please note that this is a busy road at times and the path is narrow so make sure you have some bright clothing, a helmet and lights fitted, in particular if you are travelling in the evening or in low light. The path will bring you back to Muckross House where you can partake in a guided tour of the building and gain inside knowledge about the history of the manor house and secrets of the Herbert Family.

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