Kilfinane is an excellent base to explore the many delights Ballyhoura has to offer.
Located in Limerick, it’s close to the county borders of Cork and Tipperary, which makes it a great base to explore from.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Kilfinane to where to eat, sleep and drink!
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Kilfinane
Although a visit to Kilfinane in Limerick is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Tucked away in the Golden Vale within the Ballyhoura Mountains, Kilfinane is a friendly market town in southeast Limerick. It is close to the county borders with Cork and Tipperary.
2. The perfect base to explore Ballyhoura from
At an elevation of 150m, Kilfinane is well located for those wanting to explore the region. Located in the Ballyhoura mountains, it’s a walker’s paradise with breathtaking scenery at every turn. After an enjoyable day exploring on foot, horseback or mountain bike, settle yourself in one of the old school pubs for the evening.
3. A fine bit of history
It’s believed that Kilfinane Motte was the seat of the Kingdom of Munster over 1,000 years ago. The 10m high hill fort was strengthened by the 10th century king, Brian Boru and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Located in Ballyhoura, the charming town of Kilfinane is surrounded by stunning mountain and forest views. It currently has around 800 inhabitants and is steeped in history.
St Finnian founded a church here in the 7th century, giving the town its name. There’s a large 18th century Market House which also housed the courts.
Rev. John Wesley, preached there at the invitation of the Palatine Protestants who settled there from the Rhine in the 1740s.
Kilfinane also has a Gothic Revival Catholic Church, two schools, three pubs, a playground near the GAA pitch and an Outdoor Education Centre offering a host of recreational activities.
Things to do in Kilfinane (and nearby)
While there’s only a handful of things to do in Kilfinane, there’s endless places to visit close by.
Below, you’ll find some of the finest walks in Limerick, historical sites and views galore.
1. Explore Kilfinane’s past
A stroll around Kilfinane reveals a surprising number of historic sites including a Motte and Ringfort. The ruins of Kilfinane Castle depicts the fierce battle with Cromwell’s Army in the mid-1600s.
Eventually the walls were holed and breached and the battlements destroyed. Look out for the memorial of the local United Irishman, Patrick Staker Wallis, who died in the 1798 Rebellion.
The ancient Motte and Ringfort were the site of royal coronations of the Kings of Munster. All that remains of the Kilfinane flax mill is the brick chimney after a fire destroyed this bustling complex in the 1940s.
2. Tackle one of the many Ballyhoura walks
Ballyhoura is an outstanding destination for outdoor adventurers, hikers and mountain bikers. The area has 92km of bike trails and over 20 loop walks around Ballyhoura with something for all fitness levels.
We take you through the best of the bunch in our Ballyhoura walks guide that has everything from long and tough hikes to family friendly strolls.
3. Step back in time at Lough Gur
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in history and nature, look no further than the incredible Lough Gur, where prehistoric man once farmed and fished from its scenic shores.
It’s a 30-minute drive from Kilfinane. Start your visit at the Heritage Centre which traces 6,000 years of history through a modern exhibition, audio-visual presentations and interactive touch screens.
You can then tackle one of several trails that’ll take you around the lake (tip: you can get audio guides from the heritage centre).
4. Try guided mountain biking with Ballyhoura Trailriders
Ballyhoura Trailriders offer top of the range bike rentals from their centre close to the trailhead in Ardpatrick. Established in 2007, the business is run by Chris and Liam who are keen mountain bikers themselves.
You’ll find them off the main street towards the church car park in Kilfinane town. They offer guided tours, equipment hire and training in mountain bike skills for those new to the rough terrain.
The European Mountain Biking Championships were held at the centre in 2014.
5. Take a tour of the Mitchelstown Caves
Head 31km east across the Cork border to Mitchelstown Caves. Open weekends only, you are recommended to book a tour online ahead of time.
Guided tours take visitors underground into the outstanding caves which have awe-inspiring formations including calcite pillars, stalactites and stalagmites.
The caves were carved out by an old stream passage thousands of years ago and were accidentally discovered by the local farmer in 1833.
They remains a constant 12C all year round and provide an unforgettable subterranean experience.
6. Visit The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland
Located in Liscarroll, Co. Cork the Donkey Sanctuary is 30 minutes drive from Kilfinane. Since 1987 they have given a home to neglected and abandoned donkeys to see out their retirement.
Operated as a charity, visitors are welcome to visit Knockardbane Farm, walk along the footpaths and pet the donkeys. There is parking and a Visitor Information Centre. Admission to the Donkey Sanctuary is free.
It is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9.30am to 12.30 and 1.30pm to 4pm (hours may change).
7. Conquer Galtymore
For the ultimate challenge in Ballyhoura, how about climbing to the summit of Galtymore? It’s the highest peak in the Galtee Mountains at 3,011 feet (918m).
One of the best routes starts at Kings Yard where there’s ample parking, a shop and hot drinks before you set off. Allow 5-6 hours to complete the 11km return hike.
The reward for reaching the white cross marking the summit is stunning views across Tipperary and Limerick on a clear day.
Pubs and places to eat in Kilfinane
There are a handful of great pubs and restaurants in Kilfinane, for those of you that fancy a post-walk bite to eat (or pint):
1. Molly’s Kilfinane
Molly’s is a welcoming eatery in Kilfinane offering home-cooked food Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. If you decide to eat in, the restaurant has a charming atmosphere, soft decor and excellent service. Families are welcome. The menus include daily specials, all day breakfast, soups, burgers, steaks, pasta and plenty more.
2. Kellehers Pub/ O’Ceilleachair
Known locally as Kellehers Pub, O’Ceilleachair is located on Main Street, Kilfinane. Relax by the fireplace at this urban bar which has a well-stocked L-shaped bar lined with stools. The walls are covered in homely knock-knacks and local ephemera providing an interesting insight into the area.
Places to stay around Kilfinane
There’s a handful of places to stay around Kilfinane (it’s worth checking their location on maps to see proximity to the town). Here are some suggestions:
1. Ballyhoura Mountain Lodges
This wood-clad mountain lodge is ideal for hikers and explorers visiting Ballyhoura. Located in a peaceful rural setting in Ballyorgan, the 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom lodge has a fully equipped kitchen and modern furnishings in spacious living rooms with dining table and flat-screen TV. There’s a private deck, car parking and free Wi-Fi.
2. Ash Hill B & B
Ash Hill B&B offers a warm welcome to visitors in a lovely country house surrounded by gardens and amazing views. It offers roaring fires in the shared lounge and an excellent continental breakfast. Spacious bedrooms include antique furnishings and private bathrooms. Bike rentals are available too.
3. Charleville Park Hotel & Leisure Club
In the heart of town, Charleville Park Hotel is a modern comfortable hotel with well-appointed bedrooms and a fantastic leisure centre. Take a dip in the pool or relax tired muscles in the sauna, steam room and spa pools. The onsite Greenfinch Restaurant serves hearty Irish cuisine and there’s a bar for socialising.
FAQs about visiting Kilfinane in Limerick
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Kilfinane worth visiting?
Kilfinane in Limerick makes an excellent base to explore Ballyhoura from. This is a charming town that’ll give you a good taste of rural Irish living.
Are there many things to do in Kilfinane?
Aside from the town’s historical sites, there aren’t many things to do. However, it’s biggest draw for visitors is that it’s close to an abundance of wonderful trails.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.