It was our last day in Killarney. My friend and I tapped into our inner nature enthusiasts and knew that it was time to go to Killarney’s star attraction: Killarney National Park. We decided against the horse and buggy ride through the park, even though the idea of taking it stirred a romantic feeling deep within our souls. Instead, we opted to take a walking tour so that we could feel the ground beneath our feet and really take it all in. We did a bit of research, found what we thought would just be an inexpensive tour, and actually ended up having one of the best experiences during our trip to Ireland. Even if you are not an intrepid explorer of nature, here are three reasons why you should visit Killarney National Park.
1. It will (re)awaken you to the true glory of nature
I’ve heard Killarney National Park called “God’s front doorstep.” My friend and I breathlessly exclaimed that it looked like Middle Earth throughout our hike. Mountains jut into clouds, and both reflect into water below. Trees helped us stay balanced as we traversed over rocky paths, sometimes slippery with wet leaves, with varying levels of difficulty. Trees towered over us when we looked up and around. It’s one of those places where the air is thick with oxygen from all of the trees, and maybe a few spirits of past wanderers of the park. Check out these pictures!
2. You can go on a walk with this man and his dog
Richard is my favorite tour guide in the history of tour guides. I’m not typically a fan of tours. I don’t like the frequently chatty nature of them. It usually feels like forced bonding, and I’m always waiting for someone to make me do a trust fall. When my friend and I decided to take a tour, I prepared for the worst. My friend called Richard and signed up for his two-hour, €9 walking tour. He said that he would pick us up from our hotel and made sure that we were okay with dogs because one would be coming along. When he arrived, there were already two other people in the car, a lovely Hungarian couple, who were hairstylists from London. When we made it to the entrance of the park, he opened the back hatch of his vehicle. An Irish Setter named Rua, which means red in Irish (the people of Ireland called the language Irish which was an eye-opener for me), flew out of the car, and she was ready to take us on our tour. Richard told us to follow him and Rua, and that if we had any questions to just ask. My friend commented later that going on a walking tour with Richard was like accompanying a guy who was walking his dog. But we both appreciated his quiet nature and lack of forced smiling. He’s multilingual (he spoke to our tour group in English, broke into a short conversation in Spanish with my friend, and stopped to talk to another hiker in Irish). He pointed out things in which he thought we might be interested, and these statements were usually coated with some sort of dry humor. “You see that giant tree, there? It’s grand, isn’t it? So tall and ancient… It’s from California.” He also broke out into song (you can find a version of it below) at one point upon hearing my friend’s name. Best. Tour. Guide. Ever.
3. There are no bugs
I’m sure they are somewhere. Ecosystems can’t survive without them. However, I did not see them or feel them during our entire walk. In fact, my friend, the Hungarian couple, and I all remarked on the lack of creepy crawlies. Richard said that he always has at least one person who asks him where all of the bugs are. But seriously, can you imagine taking a hike in a place filled with trees and not seeing spiders everywhere? That place is real, and it’s Killarney National Park.
All in all, Killarney National Park provides a glorious walk for those who are in and out of touch with nature.