Before arriving in Killarney, I had meticulously planned every hour in order to pack in the most possible. I wanted to do the Ring of Kerry, go hiking around Muckross, and kayak through the Gap of Dunloe. It was going to be perfect.
But then, life happened.
My plane had a freak accident and ended up rerouted for an emergency landing, the subsequent redeye flight was delayed, and then I missed my train. So after three days of high emotions and very little sleep, I stumbled out of the Killarney train station grumpy and bleary eyed.
Luckily for me, Malton Hotel is just opposite the station and serves strong cups of coffee beside beautiful, roaring fires. It did just the trick. Somewhat miraculously, the weather turned around too – which made the ponies and traps lined outside the hotel’s entrance an irresistible prospect.
Before I knew it, I was snuggled up under a woolen rug, trotting through the Irish countryside listening to my driver tell stories and sing folk songs in a thick Kerry lilt.
Arriving at Ross Castle, I hopped out and began exploring the grounds.
It was exactly the sort of Irish fairytale I’d dreamed about – the honey-stone castle gracefully crumbling, the late afternoon sun gently setting over the distant mountains, the swans gliding over the glittering lake.
It genuinely felt too perfect to be real.
With a thermos of hot tea I could have spent the entire evening just wandering around, listening to the sound of waves lapping the shore and watching the sky change under the ever-shifting light.
When you do go, be sure to round the corner away from the castle grounds (as beautiful as they are) and head towards the boathouse. Just beyond the rowing club, you’ll find a little launching dock bordered by reeds and cattails.
It has the most stunning views of Killarney Lake, and for the entire time I spent not a single other person came by. I wouldn’t have even thought to venture back myself had my jaunting driver not nudged me along.
When we finally did ride back into Killarney town for dinner, my mind was still in a daydream. The little journey wasn’t what I had expected or planned for, but it was more perfect than I could have imagined.