When many of us travelers begin planning our first visit to Ireland, County Kerry is at the top of the list. This beautiful, emerald-hued corner of Ireland was exactly what we envisioned and, as we expected, it was our favorite part of our family trip to Ireland.
On a typical trip, we might stay three or four nights in each area before moving along. That’s usually a good balance between experiencing a variety of areas while still feeling rooted, settled and relaxed. Especially with little kids and all their stuff, planning fewer transitions has worked great for us.
When Ronnie floated the idea of spending a full week based out of Killarney in County Kerry, I was initially skeptical. But two factors eventually made the decision clear for us: first, every virtual rock we turned over revealed yet another great attraction or experience within close proximity; and second, Ronnie found a phenomenal rental property for us that was willing to give a big discount for staying the full week. I can say with confidence that spending a week in County Kerry MADE our trip.
Read on for where to stay, what to eat and what to do in Killarney and other areas of County Kerry, Ireland.
Why you should stay in Killarney with kids
So many guide books knock Killarney as being overrun with tourists and lacking in charm and they’re not totally wrong. But we felt that the centrality of the location outweighed those criticisms for our family – we knew we would spend several days in Killarney proper and several more within 30-45 minutes. Once we arrived we certainly saw many tourists (and their buses) everywhere but we also felt warmly welcomed by the residents of the town. As you’ll see below, Killarney can be a great place to stay with kids.
Below you’ll find info on our lodging jackpot and some terrific food options in Killarney. Check back over the next few days to read about our activities in the area.
Where to Stay In Killarney with Kids – Killarney Holiday Village
As I mentioned above, the lodging situation played a role in our decision. We stayed in a 4-bedroom townhouse in Killarney Holiday Village just next to town – it’s a tidy little neighborhood of Killarney holiday homes. This rental was hands-down the most family-friendly we’ve ever had! In addition to the four bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, the ground level had a half bathroom, spacious living room and a huge eat-in kitchen with a washer and separate dryer – as most people who have traveled in Europe will tell you, a separate dryer is a real luxury. To top it all off, the townhouses all back to a grassy courtyard via French doors in the kitchen. That’s right, my apartment-dwelling city kids got to stay in a real house with a real backyard. On our grocery run at the jumbo-sized Tesco we grabbed a few balls and the kids honestly could have just spent the rest of the week happily playing outside.
Where to Eat In Killarney
The other feature of Killarney that thrilled the kids was Murphy’s Ice Cream. County Kerry is known for its dairy production. On our first night in town as we wandered around listening to buskers, we stumbled into their Main Street location and met founder and owner Seán Murphy. He’s an Irish American who had been living in New York when he decided it was time to go back to his family roots and do something different. Thus was born Murphy’s Ice Cream up the road in Dingle in 2000. The flavors and ingredients are all local, like Dingle Sea Salt ice cream and Raspberry sorbet made with distilled rainwater from the area.
Best of all, this is clearly a business with heart behind it. We encountered Seán a few times that week as we visited his shops throughout the county, and we were always struck by his genuine warmth toward his customers and his passion for life in the region. He shared so much with us about the traditions of Kerry, including the long history of musical performance and the commitment to teaching the Irish language. Don’t take my word for it – next time you’re in Ireland, pop in for some delicious whiskey ice cream and great conversation.
Fast-forward to our final night in Killarney. We’d had our fill of fish and chips and were looking for a little more variety, but still something our relatively picky eaters could work with. We hit paydirt when someone suggested a restaurant buried in the center of town, Genting Thai. We sat outside on the patio, a refreshing change of pace even though the restaurant is in the middle of the partially-enclosed Inisfallen Shopping Mall. I promise, you would never find this place if you weren’t hunting for it! The service was fast, the high chair was clean and the food was great. If you’re in the area and looking for more variety in your diet, Genting is a can’t-miss.
How to Listen In Killarney (with kids!)
Killarney offers so many great places to listen to music with kids. We’d stroll around after dinner every night and find a place that seemed to have the right vibe for our family: not too crowded, unconcerned with having a stroller parked in the corner, and happy to send out milk or sweets for the kids. Technically kids are supposed to be out of pubs by 9 (when music starts most nights) but we never saw that enforced. We’d try to arrive a little early to get good seats and stay for perhaps 20 minutes of music, depending on the kids’ moods. Flexibility and respect for the other patrons were always our guides, but don’t feel that you have to miss out on the music just because you’re traveling with kids!
Things to do in Kerry with kids (or without!)
There are so many family-friendly things to do in Killarney that you’ll be spoiled for choice! Here are our guides to what to do in Killarney:
- Biking the Gap of Dunloe
- Muckross estate – Muckross house, Muckross farm, Muckross gardens, Muckross lake
- Ring of Kerry – including the lovely Torc Waterfall!
There are also many great daytrips from Killarney:
- Dingle/Slea Head daytrip
- Cliffs of Moher
- Skelling Michael – we didn’t get a chance to do this trip, but Corinne and Jim from ReflectionsEnroute loved it!
Feature photo credit: vacationkillarney.com
Have you visited Killarney with kids? Tell us about it below!