Killarney is renowned for its natural beauty, hospitality and a dazzling array of things to do in and around the 26,000 acres of Killarney National Park. It is less revered for its temperate climate – the rain is not shy in making an appearance at any time throughout the year. Despite the protestations of some, there are plenty of things to do on a rainy day in Killarney. Without the rain, we would not have the beauty, so let’s not be too hard on the weather. Read on to get some inspiration for what you can do on a rainy day in Killarney National Park and its surrounds.
Why does it always rain on me?
Killarney town is located in a natural valley beneath the surrounding peaks of the McGillycuddy Reeks mountain range. The Reeks form a natural barrier from the prevailing westerly winds sweeping in from the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west. For anyone that remembers their geography lessons, the air cools as it rises over a mountain and the moisture is released in the form of precipitation. That usually translates to rain in this part of the world. So the combination of a never ending supply of air from the Atlantic and the highest mountain range in Ireland, means that the Killarney area is never short of rain.
As the old saying goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” and this is something to keep in mind when visiting Killarney. If you are heading outdoors, be prepared for the any of the four seasons to greet you at some part of the day. With the right clothing, it is possible to enjoy all of the wonders of Killarney National Park on a rainy day. And remember, it very rarely rains all day, most of the time the shower passes before long!
The driving rain
Whether you have your own car or you want to sit back and relax and let someone else do the driving, you are spoilt for choice for rainy day drives in and around Killarney.
|Ladies View Drive
|Gap of Dunloe Drive
|Aghadoe Viewing Point
|Red Deer at Muckross
|Jaunting Car Trip
The viewing point at Ladies View is a short drive from Killarney. The road through the National Park takes you to the famous Muckross area and Torc mountain. Beyond Torc, the road weaves through the natural oak woods of Derrycunnihy and rises to the spectacular vista overlooking Killarney’s upper lake. You can continue along the main road to the nearby Moll’s Gap junction.
The Gap of Dunloe is a glacier formed valley 10 km from Killarney town. A small local road winds through ‘the gap’ and on into the Black Valley before linking up to the main N72 road at Moll’s Gap. Although this is a public road, it is very much a ‘minor’ local road and there are some parts with just enough room for one vehicle to pass in either direction. If you are confident at driving on minor roads in Ireland, please be aware that you will be sharing the road in parts with walkers, cyclists and the pony and traps that ply their trade between Kate Kearney’s Cottage and Lord Brandon’s Cottage on the shores of the Upper Lake. During the busier periods of the year, the road can become quite congested so take your time and enjoy the scenery at a safe pace.
Any visit to Killarney is not complete without taking in the spectacular vista from the viewing point at Aghadoe. Just a short drive from Killarney town, the location near the Aghadoe Heights Hotel offers a panoramic view of Lough Leane, the McGillycuddy Reeks and other mountains as far as the eye can see. If you do choose to visit on a rainy day, the view may not be obscured somewhat but on any day it is a sight to behold.
Killarney National Park is home to a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna – aided no doubt by the abundant supply of precipitation throughout the year. The most famous of the fauna is undoubtebly the native Irish Red Deer, which thrives in many parts of the Park. Thousands flock each year to witness the spectacular rut which occurs each year in late Sept/early October. The deer can be viewed all year round in many parts of the Park and can even be seen from the comfort of your car on a rainy day. If you want to find the easiest place to see these magnificent animals, look out for them in the field directly opposite the entrance to Muckross House & Gardens.
The traditional jaunting cars and the jarveys that operate them have become synonymous with Killarney for well over a century. No matter what attraction you visit in the Killarney National Park, you will not have to travel far to find a pony and trap to take you further on your way. The jarveys and ponymen of Killarney have seen many changes and innovations over the years and the jaunting cars have adopted to ply their trade in any weather. As well as traditional blankets to ward off a chill in the air, many jaunting cars come equipped with a roof and rain covers to combat the ‘occasional’ rainy day in Killarney. A little bit of rain won’t deter the horses or the jarveys and neither should it be a problem for you.
Soak up some culture on a rainy day
Channel your inner culture vulture and step in from the rain to soak up the heritage and history of Killarney.
|Killarney House & Gardens
|Visit a Church
|Muckross Traditional Farms
Muckross House and Gardens is one of the most popular areas to visit in Killarney. Situated in a magical setting under the mountains of Torc & Mangerton on the shores of Muckross Lake, it is bursting with walks, cycle routes and scenic areas to explore. Muckross House has a wonderful tour and is a great option to consider on a rainy day in Killarney. Muckross House is open 7 days a week all year round and the guided tour of the house takes less than an hour. There is also a restaurant/coffee shop and gift shop at the House.
The area around Ross Castle is another ‘must see’ on any visit to Killarney. The pathways that criss cross the adjacent Ross Island are a walkers paradise. Well signposted, paved paths wander throughout the island along the shores of Lough Leane. The fully renovated Ross Castle has a roof that is very much intact so why not try talking a guided tour of Ross Castle on that rainy day in Killarney? The tour lasts approximately one hour. The castle is open to visitors from March to October, 7 days a week. Entry is free on the first Wednesday of each month.
The most recently opened historical house in the are is Killarney House, located a stone’s throw from the town centre. Opened to the public following extensive renovations in 2016, there are guided tours of the house available from March to October. On a rainy day in Killarney, you could while away an hour in the surrounds of Killarney House and Gardens.
If architecture, history and peace and quiet are your thing, there are three wonderful churches in the town that you can escape to on a rainy day in Killarney. St. Mary’s Cathedral was designed by the English architect Pugin, best known for his work in Westminster (Big Ben). The Cathedral is located on the doorstep of Killarney National Park in Knockreer – pop in to shelter from a shower and enjoy the silence.
The Franciscan Friary at Fair Hill was completed in the 1860s following a few address changes for the Friars. Prior to arriving in Fair Hill, they resided in College Street and most famously at the now ruined Muckross Abbey. The intricate altar wall of the Friary contrasts with the towering arches of the Cathedral, but it has a warmth and character of its own.
St. Mary’s Church of Ireland is located in the town centre at Kenmare place. The site has housed a church at this location since the 13th century and the current building is a lovely place to hide away for a while on a rainy day. In recent years, the church has also hosted singers, choirs and orchestras for intimate shows in this idyllic setting. Soak up some atmosphere, culture and solitude instead of getting a soaking outside.
Muckross Traditional Farms is a recreation of rural village from the Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s. Though the village is set outdoors, there are a number of farmhouses, cottages and a schoolhouse that offer shelter from the elements. In fact, a rainy day in Killarney would provide a very authentic view of life in the past. Climate change may be affecting our planet but it definitely rained in 1930s Ireland too!
If you want to get moving on a rainy day in Killarney, there are a number of options for you depending on what takes your fancy.
|Kayaking on the Lakes
|Health & Fitness Clubs
There are a number of indoor swimming pools that are always a great option on a rainy day in Killarney. The Killarney Sports & Leisure centre is open to the public 7 days a week and has a great 25 metre pool to explore. Many of the other swimming pools are attached to hotels and are only available to guests but some offer ‘day access’ to visitors for a small fee.
Anyone that plays golf in Ireland knows that there is the likelihood of a shower of rain at some stage during your round. So if you’re planning to fit in some golf on your visit to Killarney, the rainy day might be a good day to test out your rain gear. Killarney and its surrounding areas has golf courses to suit all abilities and budgets.
In recent years, Killarney on Ice has become a regular feature of the Christmas in Killarney programme. Skate to your heart’s content on the rink while the rain falls outside. Depending on your skating skills and whether or not you end up on the ice, we can’t guarantee that you won’t get wet, but you will have fun!
When thinking of things to do on a rainy day in Killarney, kayaking on the Lakes of Killarney may not be the obvious choice. But think about it – you’re going to get a little bit wet anyway, so why not make the most of the rainy day by exploring the waters of Lough Leane on a kayak? Tours depart from Ross Castle and you can choose from a leisurely spin around the shores of the Castle or an adventure around Ross Island and beyond to the mystical Innisfallen Island.
If you’re feeling energetic but not too keen on venturing outdoors, maybe the rainy day is a sign that you need to head to the gym? Many of the hotels have gyms and fitness centres attached – check to see if there are any classes (spinning, pilates, yoga etc) scheduled in case you need some additional motivation. Some of the local fitness and health centres are open to the public or have special day rates for non members.
Horse Riding is a wonderful way to get a different perspective on Killarney. Seeing the sights from horseback, away from the roads and at your own pace, is a fantastic experience. No, the horses don’t come equipped with a roof on a rainy day in Killarney (not yet anyway…), but it is an activity that is not spoiled by a bit of rain. By its nature, Horse Riding requires you to muck in a little bit, so you may as well do it on that rainy day.
If it’s not too wet and it’s a drizzly rainy day, there are several short walks that offer shelter from the showers. All you need in the way of accessories is a coat, hat or brolly and you’re good to go. The trails of Ross Island are a good example. The route to the Copper Mines and Governor’s Rock has a canopy of trees along the majority of the trail. A few gaps occur near the lake shore, but the view will compensate for any sprinkling of rain at these points.
The paths in Knockreer along the banks of the river Deenagh are similarly shaded. These routes are accessible from the main gates to the National Park at the Deenagh Lodge or via Killarney House & Gardens.
Torc Waterfall is another one of the ‘must see’ locations on the Killarney bucket list. The tree lined approach from the main car park to the waterfall is very well sheltered from the elements. On a rainy day in Killarney, you’re more likely to get wet from the spray of the waterfall than from the falling rain.
Nearby, the infamous cardiac steps meander up the slopes of Torc Mountain. Due to the trail being almost completely encased in the woods of the mountain, your best chance of getting wet will be from your own perspiration as you trudge up the steps!
The area around Muckross House is peppered with walks and trails to explore on any day of the year. On the rainy day, you should try the Boathouse or Arthur Young trails to fend off the rain. Both are trails that weave through the woods and limestone rocks on the shores of Muckross Lake. The only exposed sections of note are when you start and finish the trails near Muckross House.
Kids on a Rainy Day in Killarney
If you have the little ones in tow, the threat of rain can add to the burden of the ‘what are we going to do today?’ question. Fear not, there are plenty of things to do for kids and families on a rainy day in Killarney.
|Kids Play Centre
|Movies at the Cinema
|Matinee Concert / Show
Often the ‘go to’ solution for the rainy day problem – a trip to the movies. Killarney’s cinema is open 7 days a week with movies to suit all ages and tastes. A perennial favourite that does exactly what is says on the tin – sit back, turn off and enjoy the show.
Perhaps a not so obvious one is a visit to the Killarney playground. No, it doesn’t have a roof over it the last time I checked, but it is often only a quick wipe of a towel away from being a great hour for the kids on a rainy day. Bring along a small towel of cloth and the slides, swings and seats are magically transformed from wet frowns to happy smiles. The playground is located in a sheltered corner of the National Park and you will have the place to yourself if there has been a recent shower of rain.
Indoor play centres for kids are busy on rainy days and Killarney is no exception. The Buddies play centre has play frames, bouncy castles and party areas as well as a coffee and snack area to keep everyone fuelled up. Located in the Woodlands Industrial Estate on the outskirts of the town, it’s a very popular options for younger kids on a rainy day in Killarney.
Killarney’s reputation for hospitality is as famed as the beauty of the area and there are myriad of entertainment options to suit all tastes. The bulk of these are evening entertainment, designed to fit in after a day exploring Killarney National Park and its surrounds. So what if the dreaded rainy day in Killarney arrives and you want some entertainment before the sun starts to set?
The INEC regularly hosts matinee shows of pantos, children’s concerts, orchestral shows, theatre and musical society performances. Sit back and be entertained for a couple of hours and forget about the rain outside.
There is of course another option those with kids to entertain – just get out and enjoy the rain! Once you have raingear, wellies and brollies and a positive attitude, you can’t go wrong. They will love jumping in puddles, watching the raindrops in the river or hearing the rain hop off their hoods. All of the wonders of Killarney National Park will be there on a rainy day and the sense of satisfaction when they get back in will be worth the effort.
Relax in the Rain
Are you more of the passive (lazy) type on a rainy day? That’s OK too. Fear not sloth, there’s plenty to entertain you as well!
|Visit the Library
|Visit the Pub
|Cruise Killarney Lakes
|Lunch / Afternoon Tea
|Spa / Massage
The local library is not the first place that comes to mind when looking for something to do on a rainy day in Killarney. But think about it – it’s warm, dry, free to use and it’s a haven of peace and quiet where you are surrounded by books. What’s not to like about that? Situated at ‘the top of the town’ on Rock Road, just a few minutes stroll from the town centre, Killarney Public Library is open 6 days a week.
If you’re in need of a good book to read while you watch the rain tumble down outside, Easons bookstore on Main Street is a good place to find the read of your choice. The Dungeon bookstore on College Street also specialises in second hand books so pop in there to find a pre-loved gem.
The pubs and bars of Killarney are often quiet during the day and can be a great place to escape for a quiet drink on a rainy day. Many have cozy snug areas and also serve food and teas and coffees to keep you energised.
Another rainy day option is a boat trip on Lough Leane. The fully covered waterbus and watercoach that operate from the pier at Ross Castle will bring you around the sights of the lake while keeping you dry at the same time. See the famed Innisfallen island and cruise along the shores at the foot of the McGillycuddy Reeks from the comfort of your (covered) seat. It’s the best of both worlds -cruise the lake while staying dry and warm!
A long, lazy lunch in a hotel or restaurant will banish the wet weather from your memory. Many offer ‘afternoon tea’ style snacks so you can indulge while the deluge continues outside . Grab your favourite read or entertainment and hide away in a coffee shop while the clouds gather outside.
If you really are not keen on getting out and about and need a bit of pampering, make the rainy day in Killarney the day you get some relaxation fitted in to the schedule. There are a number of spa and wellness centres that offer an array of treatments to wash away any stresses and strains.
Killarney’s retail heritage is long-standing and finely tuned – a little bit of precipitation will not be allowed to impact the customer experience. So if you do encounter a rainy day in Killarney, you have numerous options for a bit of retail therapy to pass the time. In recent years, there have even been suggestions from some quarters to install rain proof covers on Killarney’s main shopping streets (& playground). Nevertheless, the bulk of Killarney’s shopping opportunities are well protected from the elements. Many of the shops offer late shopping, 7 days a week during the busier times of the year.
The Killarney Outlet centre at Fair Hill has a number of retail outlets under one (rain-proof) roof. The majority of the town’s most popular shopping areas are clustered around a small number of streets in the town centre. You’ll never be too far from shelter if you head on a shopping mission in Killarney!
And now for something completely different. Catch a game (or a fish), cook up a storm or blow up some glass. There’s something for everyone.
|Local Sports Match
|Snooker / Pool
|Art Gallery / Art Class
Killarney is home to Fitzgerald Stadium which is the largest GAA venue in the county. The stadium plays host to the Kerry team for their big home games each year. The local clubs in Kerry also regularly display their wares here. With a large covered stand, you can stay dry here on on a rainy day in Killarney. Make sure to check locally to see if there are any games scheduled at the stadium or at any of the local GAA clubs in the Killarney area.
Killarney Celtic FC also has a covered stand at their grounds. The club has played host to big games in the FAI cup and Irish underage international fixtures.
Local Killarney basketball club Scotts Lakers play their home games in the Killarney Sports & Leisure centre. Excitement in the arena can sometimes nearly lift the roof off the venue but there have been no reports yet of anyone getting wet on a rainy day while watching a game.
On the nice sunny days, Killarney does witness some rare cooking excursions outdoors – the barbecue needs at least one annual outing – but generally speaking, most culinary activities take place indoors. If cooking is your thing, why not try your hand at some cooking classes with JustCooking.ie? Located a few miles outside Killarney, it’s definitely an activity that won’t be affected by a pesky rainy day.
Glass blowing by its nature is very much an indoor activity. If you’re looking to see the craft of glass blowing in the flesh, the rainy day in Killarney might be the time to check it out. Kerry Crafted Glass, located a few miles from Killarney town offer a unique experience to see glass up close and personal. There are glass blowing lessons available for individuals and small groups.
The Killarney Cue Club has snooker, pool and poker tables for your entertainment. Open 7 days a week, rain or shine. If spending an afternoon on the green baize of a snooker table is your thing – save it for a rainy day.
Fishing for trout and salmon on the lakes and rivers of Killarney is a popular pastime with locals and visitors. As far as I know, the fish are not deterred by a bit of rain and neither are fishing enthusiasts. Fishing in fact may be one of the things to do that actually benefits from a rainy day in Killarney. Make sure to check you have the appropriate license and are within the fishing season before you cast off. Private fishing guides and local boat services will be happy to arrange your fishing trip and equipment if required.
“A rainy day was made for perusing art”” – I’m sure some artist must have said that before? Killarney has a number of art galleries that display their wares under a sturdy roof. Killarney House hosts exhibitions at different times of the year and many private art galleries are open for your viewing pleasure. If you are feeling a bit more creative, you could try your hand at some art classes and maybe the waterproof clothing for a watercolour masterpiece.
Things to do on a Rainy Day in Killarney
So there you have it. The next time someone says ‘what is there to do on a rainy day in Killarney?’, you have your answer for them. Not all of the activities listed above will leave you bone dry, but all of them are viable options if the clouds have gathered and the sunscreen is not required. If you have the luxury of having time to yourself, make that rainy day the time when you make some time for yourself. Pull up the duvet, oder another coffee or book in for that treatment you’ve been meaning to do.
If sitting still is not your thing, and all else fails, pull on your coat, pull up your hood and head out and enjoy the wonders of Killarney National Park in all it’s rain-soaked glory.