Ross Castle in Killarney National Park

Ross Castle is a proud fortress with an important history, one of the last to surrender to the English during the Irish Confederate Wars, it is a testament to the resilience and pride of the Irish people…

Ross Castle is a 15th century stronghold situated in County Kerry. If you’re not quite sure where or what County Kerry is, just think of Kerry Gold butter, one of the loveliest butters you can get at a supermarket anywhere in the world, made from milk farmed from cows that feed on the county’s verdant green pastureland.

A view of Ross Castle from across the canal

Ross Castle is a place of military significance for Ireland, being amongst the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell during the Irish Confederate Wars. Because of this, Ross Castle is a symbol of resistance against the English crown and is of great significance to the people of Ireland.

It is easy to spot the military details on the battlements and towers of Ross Castle

The castle sits on the edge of Lough Leane, the largest of Killarney’s three lakes. During the war, there was a prophecy that the castle would never be taken until ships could sail on Lough Leane. The prophercy ended up being self fulfilling when the English, who knew of it, used oxen to drag a number of ships across the land towards the castle. This greatly unnerved the population seeking protection in the fortress and caused them to surrender.

Not sure if it is actually possible to go for a tour in this lovely classic, but it was nice to look at it nonetheless

Today the castle and the surrounding land is peaceful, the perfect picture of tranquillity. You couldn’t imagine that this place was once a seat of great conflict. From the castle, you can look down over the rolling hills of Kerry, dotted with many cows.

Many colourful boats line the canal just outside Ross Castle

We took a tour of the castle, which I enjoyed greatly. There were many architectural details, selectively restored, that told the story of the castle during the war and the years that came after. The narrative was captivating, and I could imagined myself as one of the many characters who lived in Ross Castle during this difficult time.

There are many ducks on the grass around Lough Leane, totally oblivious to people

Besides the castle, the grounds surrounding it are also a delight to stroll around. Dominated by rich green grass and the glistering waters of the lake, we had a great time soaking in some sun after our tour. I know Ireland isn’t exactly known for the amount of sunshine it receives, but when we were there, it was so hot – and there wasn’t much shade by the way of trees on the grounds – I felt slightly sun burned after our trip!

This dear seemed to be as interested in observing us as we were enchanted by his appearance in a thicket a stone’s throw from Ross Castle

Apart from the stunning landscape, there’s also quite a bit of fauna to be observed. We spotted some beautiful speckled deer and a mother swan with her cygnets.

The animals here are used to tourist and aren’t shy at all, so we could get fairly close to them. But it’s important to know that they are still wild – or feral – and we kept at a safe distance.

A mother swan with a bunch of super cute cygnets, touring Lough Lane just in front of Ross Castle

When we were leaving, I couldn’t help but continually turn back to take another last glimpse of Ross Castle. For centuries, it has stood, strong and proud by Lough Leane, a fortress providing safety for its inhabitants and the population that lived around it. Today, it is an empty shell, a reminder of more violent times, and a testament to how much we have achieved in terms of peace and harmony in this part of the world.

A parting look at the beautifully restored Ross Castle