Cruising Killarney

A Walkable Way to Understand Ireland

If you can, leave the rental car in the parking lot when visiting Killarney. It is a very walkable town. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

If you can, leave the rental car in the parking lot when visiting Killarney. It is a very walkable town. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

It takes a while for us to figure out that the way to enjoy Ireland is to wander it. Set out with a destination in mind, sure, but allow time to meander when you stumble across a castle or a church that looks intriguing. By the time we arrive in Killarney, we are ready to explore the town on foot.

No matter your religious calling, if any, be prepared to indulge in a bit of spiritual tourism in Ireland. Here, the organ in St. Mary's Cathedral in Killarney. Credit: M. Ciavardini

No matter your religious calling, if any, be prepared to indulge in a bit of spiritual tourism in Ireland. Here, the organ in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney. Credit: M. Ciavardini

Setting off from the Dromhall Hotel, we head up Muckross Road past Killarney Brewing (which, on this visit, happens to be closed) and venture toward town. We stop and admire some street art before pressing on toward St. Mary’s Cathedral. We admire the organ and the spirituality of the place and head toward the Franciscan Friary, which is just blocks away.  There we learn about the evils of English leader Oliver Cromwell, who had a bit of a thing against the Irish, and Catholics in particular. On display is the skull of Francis Diarmuid O’Sullivan, a friar who was beheaded by Cromwellian soldiers in 1653. This will not be the only time we encounter the results of Cromwell’s misdeeds on our journey in Ireland.

Visitors get a glimpse of Ireland's difficult past in the Franciscan Friary in Killarney. Here, the skull of a friar killed in the 1600s when Cromwellian forces devastated the Catholic Church and Irish people. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Visitors get a glimpse of Ireland’s difficult past in the Franciscan Friary in Killarney. Here, the skull of a friar killed in the 1600s when Cromwellian forces devastated the Catholic Church and Irish people. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Crossing the street, we move from the church/friary on one side to the state/courthouse on the other. Here again is a copy of the Irish declaration of independence posted outside the court.

Adventurers, bashful and otherwise, will find some good sustenance in the Laurels pub in Killarney. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Adventurers, bashful and otherwise, will find some good sustenance in the Laurels pub in Killarney. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

From there, we take a walk through this charming town on a sunny day. In late afternoon, we opt for the very crowded—but pleasingly good—Laurels pub for a pint, or two, and some fish and chips. It feels odd to be in a pub on such a bright day and see so many people in it, families even, with little kids. Pubs in Ireland do not necessarily translated to ‘bars’ in the United States. People seem not so much to be getting drunk as taking a break from their Saturday errands to grab a bite and gab a bit.

In all, our Killarney walk, replete with detours to see what we can, takes just a couple of hours.

Tip for Bashful Adventurers

  • Even if you are not Roman Catholic, you can still visit churches. Remember to be respectful and, if so inclined, to leave a donation.

—Lori Tripoli

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