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The no. 1 day tour in Killarney... for 250 years!

The no. 1 day tour in Killarney… for 250 years!


Innisfallen is a 22 acre island on Killarney’s largest lake; Lough Lein. The island is 1.5km or a 10 minute boat ride from Ross Castle. The monastery was occupied for 950 years and was attacked twice in its history by the Vikings.

The monastery on Innisfallen was founded in 640 by St. Finian, known as St. Finian “The Leper”. The monastery was originally founded as a leper colony and St. Finian acquired his name when he contracted leprosy from a young boy whom he had cured of the disease. St. Finian was a disciple of St. Columba (commonly known as Colmcille) and all of his monks followed a vegetarian diet. Unfortunately nothing of the early monastery survives to this day.

At the end of the 12th Century, the monastery became an Augustinian Priory and most of the buildings visible today are from this time. It was under the Augustinians that the monastery became a centre of education in Early Christian times. The famous scholar Maelsuthain O’Carroll was educated on Innisfallen from a young age and went on to become the school’s head. Maelsuthain also oversaw the education of Brian Boru (The future High King of Ireland) and his considerable academic reputation, earned him accolades like “Chief Doctor of the Western World” and “Sage of Ireland”. Maelsuthain went on to become Brian Boru’s chief advisor.

In 1320, the monks adopted the Benedictine Rule and while little is known of the history of the island after this time, it continued to be a renowned seat of learning. While the monastery was formally dissolved in the 16th century, it’s not known if the Island was abandoned at this time but, it was by the mid 17th Century when Cromwell’s Roundheads attacked the area.

By the 18th Century, the Island became a popular location for parties hosted by the Earl of Kenmare who transformed some of the ruined buildings in to an elaborate dining hall. By the 19th Century the Island became a destination for romantic poets such as Thomas Moore who composed “Sweet Innisfallen”.

The world famous ‘Annals of Innisfallen’ originated in Emly, Co. Tipperary in 1092 and were moved to Innisfallen in 1215 before their completion in the 15th century. There are more than 2500 entries spanning the years 433 and 1450. The books are written in both Irish and Latin and as well as listing events in chronological order, they also contain short fragmented stories of the history of Pre-Christian Ireland including the arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland. After the dissolution of the monastery on the 16th Century by Elizabeth I, the Annals passed through the hands of a number of collectors. The Annals were eventually acquired in 1747 by a British book collector named Richard Rawlinson who left them to the Bodleian Library in Oxford following his death.

Sweet Inisfallen, fare thee well,

May calm and sunshine long be thine!

How fair thou art let others tell,

To feel how fair shall long be mine.
Sweet Inisfallen, long shall dwell

In memory’s dream that sunny smile,

Which o’er thee on that evening fell,

When first I saw thy fairy isle.

Thomas MooreSweet Innisfallen

What people have to say…

“We did our trip backwards and started with the boat trip. The scenery was stunning and our boat driver was great! He highlighted a few spots on our trip and had us stop to feed the begging pheasant! Ha! We then landed at Lord Brandon’s cottage and took a pony and trap through the Gap of Dunloe. Many people attempted to walk or bike the Gap, but I can’t imagine attempting that! The roads are skinny and filled with horse and traps. The path is also very steep and winds around up the mountain path! Our trap driver pointed out the area of the Gap where they filmed the Irish Spring commercials! Just beautiful!”
Becca, Bloomington, Minnesota

RSDL O’Donoghue Limited t/a Killarney Boat Tours,
Lahard, Beaufort, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland • Tel: +353 87 261 7967
Email: info@killarneyboattours.com