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Introducing Killarney

In a town that's been practising the tourism game for over 250 years, Killarney is a well-oiled machine in the middle of the sublime scenery of its namesake national park. Beyond the obvious proximity to lakes, waterfalls, woodland and moors dwarfed by 1000m-plus peaks, it has many charms of its own. Competition keeps standards high, and no matter your budget, you can expect to find good restaurants, fine pubs and plenty of accommodation.

Killarney and its surrounds have been inhabited probably since the Neolithic period and were certainly important Bronze Age settlements, based on the copper ore mined on Ross Island. Killarney changed hands between warring tribes, the most notable of which were the Fir Bolg ('bag men'), expert stonemasons who built forts and devised Ogham script. It wasn't until much later, in the 17th century, that Viscount Kenmare developed the town as an Irish version of England's Lake District. Among its many notable 19th-century tourists were Queen Victoria and the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who began Queen Mab here.

Mobbed in summer, Killarney is perhaps at its best in the late spring and early autumn when you can enjoy its outdoor pursuits and the crowds are manageable.