Ireland // Kerry //

Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe

Killarney National Park now protects the glaciated limestone valleys around the three lakes, Leane (or Lower), Muckross (or Middle) and Upper. The lakeshores are covered with virgin forest that features oak, yew and such Mediterranean plants as the arbutus, or strawberry tree – so termed because of its red, but non-edible, fruit. Among the park’s notable mammals are red deer, otter, pine marten, red squirrels and Irish hare, while its 140 bird species include the peregrine falcon and the hen harrier. Running roughly parallel to the park’s western border is the dramatic glacial breach known as the Gap of Dunloe. The National Park Visitor Centre at Muckross House provides information about all aspects of the park, including a twenty-minute audiovisual on the landscape, flora and fauna. It stocks a useful free map of the park, while the Ordnance Survey of Ireland produces a more detailed (1:25,000) map.