Ross Castle in Killarney, County Kerry, dates to the 15th century. The castle was constructed for the Chiefs of the Clan O’Donoghue but ownership of the property passed to the Brownes during the 1580s. Ross Castle was one of the last castles to fall to Oliver Cromwell’s armies when it was captured by General Ludlow in 1652. Despite being captured, the Browne’s did not lose the land – much of which is now known as Killarney National Park – although their allegiance to King James II meant that they could no longer live there through fear of attack. Instead, they built Kenmare House and lived there while Ross Castle became a military barracks.
Legend has it that the founding O’Donoghue keeps watch over his fine castle from the bottom of Lough Leane and that he rises from the waters every seven years on the first day of May, circling the water on a majestic white horse. He is said to be accompanied by a group of ghostly musicians. The legend continues that anyone who sees him will enjoy good fortune for the rest of their lives.
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Ross Castle is now owned and maintained by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public during the summer. Visitors should note that the site can be very busy and that delays may be experienced at peak times. In addition, groups of 10 people or more are asked to pre-book.
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