A leisurely and quaint pony & trap ride through the Gap of Dunloe followed by a relaxing boat tour of the Lakes of Killarney showcases the very best of Killarney National Park and the surrounding area.<a
From castle ruins and quaint cottages, to peaceful waterways, mountain views, and wildlife sightings, this trip has everything that helps put a smile on your face.
In fact, one of my favorite memories of my 7-day road trip to Ireland is of our second day in Killarney after climbing Carrountoohil, where John and I went on a pony and trap tour and boat trip to the Gap of Dunloe with Killarney Jaunting Cars.
Killarney National Park
After meeting with a car driver from Killarney Jaunting Cars at Killarney National Park near Ross Castle, we were transported to Kate Kearney’s Cottage where we met Mary, our pony and trap driver to begin our tour.
Pony & Trap
Today, Kate Kearney’s Cottage is a famous tourist spot with a gift shop and restaurant. The car park across from the pub is the starting point for most visitors of the Gap of Dunloe.
Here, you can hop on one of the many pony and traps, little horse-drawn carriages operated by local coachmen like John and I did. Along with the clatter of hooves you’ll also hear many an elaborated tale and stories of local fairy lore.
We began our journey with horse Bob faithfully pulling our pony trap up the 7-mile journey from the cottage, through the Gap of Dunloe, where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the glaciated valley.
Squeezed between Purple Mountain to the east and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks to the west, this scenic mountain pass made me let go of the frustrations of everyday life. I couldn’t possibly feel anything but contentment when looking at such striking views!
After traveling the 7-road miles, Bob delivered us to Lord Brandon’s Cottage where we enjoyed a light snack while waiting for the boat tour to begin.
After snacking at Lord Brandon’s we continued our journey aboard traditional open boats where we were taken through the three Lakes of Killarney by Old Weir Bridge, The Meetings of the Waters, and Bricin Bridge, before ending the cruise at the 15thcentury Ross Castle.
Soon after we departed, I could tell that our boatman Donal, who brought along his faithful dog Charlie, was very passionate about Killarney National Park. His family has been doing trips on the Lakes of Killarney for generations, so I knew we were in for an excellent tour.
We headed south across a large section of Lough Leane towards Brickeen Bridge, a pretty stone construction arching over the entrance to Muckross Lake, Ireland’s deepest lake.
Next we came to the Meeting of the Waters, where the three lakes meet, and Old Weir Bridge.
The current at Old Weir Bridge can be shallow and fast flowing, making it tricky to navigate with a boat full of people. So we all hopped out and walked to the other side so Donal could use the engine’s full strength to cross the rapids.
Sticking close to the rocky shore, we spotted a mountain goat, looking like he was guarding the mountain where he lay. He wasn’t shy and gave me plenty of great photo ops!
The last lake we sailed across in our little motorized wooden boat was Lough Leane, the Lower Lake. Lough Leane is the largest of the Killarney Lakes and biggest body of fresh water in the region. Small, forested islands dot the lake and the largest one, Innisfallen Island, is home to the ruined remains of Innisfallen Abbey.
The boat tour of the Killarney Lakes was fantastic, far prettier than I imagined. Donal was a great guide and it was nice to have his sweet dog Charlie along on the trip.
Donal delivered us to the dock at Ross Castle and our tour was complete.
Overall, this tour was the perfect way to see the rich and varied vegetation, fauna, and scenery of Killarney.
The Gap of Dunloe Tour is an unforgettable adventure and the ultimate Killarney experience!
Have you visited Ireland and the Gap of Dunloe? Let me know in a comment below.