Working in the tourist office in Killarney for two summers in the distant past, the second-most common question we were asked was “What can you do in Killarney when it rains?” Soft days are all very well, but it pays to have some rainy day activities in Killarney lined up. Fortunately, when you book a holiday home in Killarney’s Holiday Village, you have everything you need to keep warm and dry in any weather.
Here is my guide to rainy-day activities in Killarney:
If you must take refuge from the rain in Killarney, it helps if your surroundings are this opulent. Muckross House & Gardens are located 5km south of the town centre, on the N71, just minutes from Killarney’s Holiday Village. The imposing Victorian mansion is packed with interesting objects to keep you occupied as the elements take charge outside. Admire portraits by John Singer Sargent, trophy stuffed fish and stags’ heads, as well as the distinctive antique Killarney furniture, inlaid with arbutus veneer scenes of local attractions. The luxurious surroundings are piled high with Persian rugs, tapestries, silver, and ornate china designed for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861.
The house was built as a hunting lodge for the Herbert family in 1843, so if you get a break in the weather, be sure to get outside and enjoy the beautiful gardens, which extend right to the shores of Muckross Lake. Behind the house, you’ll find a craft shop and studios with working weavers, bookbinders, and potters. Then it’s time to enjoy a delicious pastry with coffee in the delightful café, where you can watch the rain lash the massive windows as you admire views of the stunning gardens.
Sometimes the best thing to do when the weather turns miserable is to head indoors to the comfort of a cosy café or restaurant and enjoy a really satisfying lunch in Killarney. The quality of food on offer has risen remarkably in the last couple of decades, so that now every street has a selection of inviting spots where you can step in out of the rain, relax, and savour some really delicious, locally sourced food. From the Avoca Café on the Kenmare Road to Muckross House Café, Noelle’s Cafe just off the Market Cross, and the French-inspired Petit Delice on High Street, you have a really wide choice of fresh, tasty, and well-priced lunch options for your next wet day in Killarney.
Killarney Leisure Centre
If you have kids, top of all rainy day activities in Killarney or anywhere is the swimming pool. Many of the hotels in the Killarney area have pools, but if you are looking for a central public pool, Killarney Leisure Centre on the Bypass Road (just at the roundabout for the N22 Cork Road) is a great option. It has plenty of parking and a range of sports facilities including a full-size basketball court, eight badminton courts, a gym, a 25-metre main pool, a learner pool, toddler pool, and a health suite containing a spa, sauna, Jacuzzi, and steam room.
Castles offer protection from many things—including the elements, so Ross Castle is a good choice for a rainy day in Killarney. Situated 2km from the town centre just off the N71 Kenmare Road, the castle is located right on the shores of Loch Lein in Killarney National Park, so you can enjoy beautifully scenic walks around it and the nearby copper mines in more clement weather. This Castle is described as a typical example of an Irish chieftain’s stronghold during the Middle Ages, and it’s sure to fire the imagination of children young and old—especially the cannons!
Access to the castle is by guided tours, which take about 40 minutes. It gets pretty busy in summer, so expect to wait for your tour, but you can easily pass the time enjoying the amazing views. The castle itself contains 16th and 17th-century oak furniture.
Right outside Ross Castle is a pier, busy in the summer months with boat trips around the lakes, kayaks, and two waterbuses. Both waterbuses are covered, so you remain protected from the elements while enjoying the commentary and beautiful views of the forested shores, mountains, and the monastic sites on Inisfallen in the middle of Loch Lein. The trip takes about an hour and takes in a large swath of the lake. Definitely worth experiencing—in fine weather or foul!
They say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So don’t despair when the clouds roll up overhead and spill their contents, just grab your wellies and a good, waterproof coat and head out in Killarney National Park for a good walk. Feed the ducks at Ross Castle, take shelter under the trees in the arboretum at Muckross Gardens, or stroll down by the Deenagh River near St. Mary’s Cathedral.
After all, when you have the comfort and warmth of a holiday home at Killarney’s Holiday Village to return to, a shower of rain is quite refreshing!