Killarney's Ross Castle reopens for the tourist season
ONE of Killarney's premier visitor attractions will reopen for the tourist season this week when picturesque Ross Castle throws open its doors to the public on Friday.
The 15th century tower house, located two kilometres from the town on the shores of Lough Leane, is Ireland's best example of an Irish chieftain's stronghold from the Middle Ages, and offers a unique insight, not only into life in a medieval Irish castle, but also reflects the history of the Killarney area.
Speaking to The Kerryman this week, Adrian Corcoran, of OPW Visitor Services, underlined the importance of Kerry's history and heritage.
"People have travelled to visit the Taj Mahal and Sydney Opera House but tend to forget what's on their own doorstep. Our own heritage is on our doorsteps and you don't have to travel to experience it," he said.
Mr Corcoran also remarked that while tourist numbers to Ireland reduced by over one million in 2010, visitors to OPW sites in Kerry including Derrynane House, Listowel Castle, Ardfert Cathedral and Gallarus Oratory and Castle, increased last year.
Built by the O'Donoghue clan in the late 15th Century, Ross Castle through the centuries has witnessed the changing fortunes of history.
The castle and its surrounding lands were bought by a consortium of American businessmen in the 1950s who had plans to develop the site. One of the businessmen, billionaire John McShain, who purchased substantial areas of the Kenmare Estate, forestalled the development and later sold the castle to the Irish State for a nominal fee.
Renovations began in the early 1970s and it opened its doors to the public in 1991.
Details of Kerry's OPW sites are available on www.opw.ie, where visitors can also purchase heritage cards guaranteeing free admission to OPW sites for one year.
The cards are €21 for adults, €16 for seniors, €8 for students and children, while a family card is priced at €55.