Book Review: ‘Scenic Walks in Killarney’

‘Scenic Walks in Killarney – A Walking Guide’ by Jim Ryan is a welcome addition to the many books that feature some of Killarney’s finest walks. Although it is not the first book to cover these walks, it is one of the better ones that address the needs of more casual walkers who may not want to venture into the hills and uplands of Killarney National Park.Published by The Collins Press in 2012, the book is still pretty much up to date. This book provides options for walks and strolls in and around the town as well as more challenging walks in the hills and countryside around Killarney National Park.

Those that are not fans of walking around trying to get a little white ball into 18 holes are often quick to utter the “golf is a good walk spoiled” quotation. We’re not sure whether the author is a fan of golf or note but he has included eighteen walks in total in this guide book. The walks are subdivided into three geographical areas

A fourth section – ‘Country Walks’ contains five walks covering the Gap of Dunloe/Black Valley, Hags Glen & Tomies Wood as well as Mangerton Mountain.

A Round of Walks

The routes covered range from 1km to 14km in length. The shorter strolls will take less than an hour and some of the more challenging walks require a full day trip. The book is written in classic guidebook format with a map for each walk, a section covering the duration, difficulty, points of interest, start/finish locations and additional options for extending and combining walks.

The maps provided for each walk are easy to read and include key points of interest or waypoints in a very simple format. Directional arrows outline the route and major roads and parking areas are clearly marked. A floor plan of Muckross Abbey guides you through the ruins and gives a great insight into the life of those who once lived there.

Where a walk has physical trail markers (such as the Blue Pool or Ross Island), the author follows these marker points in the text and comments on each in numbered points. This format makes the book a valuable companion when you are out on the walk.

Old Dog Learning New Tricks

Jim Ryan Book Review

Compact but not quite pocket-sized

As a resident of Killarney, sometimes you have to become a tourist in your own town to appreciate some of the wonderful walks in the area. I approached this book in that frame of mind and I must say it proved both informative and entertaining in equal measure. Throughout the book, there are little sections on history, folklore, nature or local information. These nuggets are great for providing a bit of colour to the walks and make the book more readable than many typical walking guides.

The author himself states that this book can be used and reused as visitors to Killarney are often drawn back again for return visits. The book lends itself to returning visitors but also to first timers – it would be quite easy to pick out a handful of the walks for a short stay. The challenging but rewarding ‘Torc Waterfall Circuit’  is very popular with weekend visitors and locals. Despite having already walked all of the routes previously, some of them several times, I can happily admit to having learned something new on each of the walks covered in the book. In some cases, such as the ‘Lord Brandon’s Cottage & Return by Boat’ route, the walks are organised slightly differently than expected so this casts the routes in a new light for those already familiar with Killarney. For those wishing to shorten this 14km walk, there is an option to begin the walk at Derrycunnihy instead.

Additional resources

For those interested in walks in the Killarney area, here are some additional resources that may be of interest.

Selected websites featuring walks in Killarney:

  • The website lists the main walks in and around the Killarney area.
  • Here on Killarney Guide, we have a number of routes in our walks and hikes section.
  • There are some great informative articles, maps and other useful guides on the Active Me website (This link is for all items related to Killarney).
  • The Kerry Way is a long walking trail that starts and finishes in Killarney. This website provides details and maps of all of the walks, including those in the Killarney area.

Other books on walks around Killarney area

There are many books that have been published that cover some of the great walks in the Killarney area. Along with Jim Ryan’s book, there are two in particular that I can recommend. Both of these have been well tested on the hills and trails of Killarney over the years and are well worth checking out.

Kerry walks – Kevin Corcoran

This has been recently updated but the version I have from years ago is still a great guide and companion while walking around Killarney.

Best Irish Walks – Joss Lynam

Considered a classic at this stage, Lynam’s book covers walks all over Ireland. The Kerry and Killarney section is excellent.


The biography of the author contained in the book states that his ‘spiritual home’ is on the Reeks of Kerry.

The wealth of information provided within the covers is a verification of this claim. Jim Ryan’s walking guide is an ideal companion for anyone wishing to discover the magic of the scenic walks of Killarney. You can buy the book on Amazon here.

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