Killarney National Park, in Co. Kerry, has been named “Ireland’s Best Day Out.” 

The judges of the competition, which is run by The Irish Times in partnership Discover Ireland, have described the 26,000-acre park as “stunning, accessible, magical.”

Said Róisín Finlay, editor of Outsider magazine and a member of the Best Day Out judging panel: “Killarney National Park has something to appeal to everyone, from adventure junkies (climbing, amazing hiking, canyoning, kayaking) to nature enthusiasts (last herd of native red deer, deer ruts, white-tailed eagles etc) to history buffs (Ross Castle, Muckross House) to families with young or old people (pony-and-trap rides, boat trips etc).

“It’s accessible by walking from the town, and even this easily accessible section is stunning. You can see deer here and at the right time of year hear them rut in the early morning.

“However, the parts that demand a little more effort to reach are simply breathtaking. The native forest is magical. And there are lots of facilities nearby in places like the Gap of Dunloe, Cronins Yard and in Killarney itself.”

Another judge, travel journalist Manchán Magan said: “I recently spent three days in Killarney National Park. The sheer number of different facets to the place are phenomenal, and the passion of the rangers is inspiring.”

The Irish Times reports that the competition looks at Ireland’s “most impressive visitor attractions, leisure experiences and outdoor destinations.” The newspapers readers were asked to nominate their favorites out of all the counties of Ireland, north and south. More than 1,900 entries were received.

The judges chose Killarney National Park from a shortlist including the Antrim coast; the Barrow Way, in Co Carlow; the Big Day Out in Co Leitrim; and Clare Island Adventures.

Although the judges were concerned about giving the award to such a well-known attraction, they concluded the park exceeds its reputation.

Said judge Fionola Meredith: “There’s a lot more going on there than many people realise.”

Ross Castle, on the Lakes of Killarney. Killarney, Dublin and Dingle among ten best spots in Ireland according to TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards.Tourism Ireland