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Lakes of Killarney offer a crash course in Irish history

July 22, 2011 - 2:26am
Lakes of Killarney offer a crash course in Irish history
Situated in southwestern Ireland, the Lakes of Killarney are some of the best places to cruise in all of Europe. Comprised of three lakes nestled in the Black Valley, this lush landscape certainly is not lacking in terms of scenic views and historic sights, and it makes it easy to understand why Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle.

Perhaps the most well-known of all the Lakes of Killarney is Lough Leane. Translated to mean "lake of learning," Lough Leane is the largest of the three and covers more than 4,700 acres. Emerging from the land that surrounds the lake is Ross Castle, which is a must-see for anybody cruising along the lake's calm waters.

Located in Killarney National Park, Ross Castle sits just on the edge of the lake and is hard to miss. Built in the late 1400s, the castle has been a part of some of the most important moments in Irish history. In fact, Ross Castle was one of the last to strongholds to surrender to Oliver Cromwell during the Irish Confederate Wars, and the structure as a military barracks until the early 1800s. Taking a guided tour of Ross Castle will give visitors deeper insight into the sordid, rich history of the region.

Innisfallen Island is located in the middle of Lough Leane, and is home to some impressive archaeological remains, known as the Innisfallen Abbey. The ruins, which include a monestary, abbey and church, date back as far as the seventh century. The structure was used for an astonishing 850 years, and it is hard to ignore the historical weight behind these ruins.

As a tour of the lakes moves from Lough Leane into the smaller Muckross Lake, the ship will have to pass under the Bricín Bridge, which serves as a line of demarcation between the two bodies of water.

While it may not be as big as Lough Leane, Muckross Lake has some interesting lore of its own. Much like the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, Muckross Lake is supposedly home to a being affectionately known as the Muckross Monster. For years there have been reports of a mysterious creature that lurks beneath the waters, and scientists have yet to provide an explanation for these peculiar sightings.