The Killarney Jaunting Cars have graced the cover of millions of postcards over the years.
In the guide below, you’ll find out everything from what they’re all about and where to find them to some recommended tours.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Killarney Jaunting Cars
The Killarney Jaunting Cars can cause a bit of confusion, so it’s worth taking 20 seconds to read the points below, first:
1. What they are
Built as a mode of personal travel in the 1800s to mid 20th century, these two or four-wheeled horse-drawn rigs were widely used to carry up to 4 four people. The name ‘jaunting’ was used to describe the pleasure trip and it’s where we get the saying that someone is ‘off on a jaunt’.
2. A very old tradition
Jaunting Cars were used for well over 100 years throughout Ireland and were a commonplace form of transport. They were replaced gradually once public transport became more readily available and motor cars started to become more common.
3. Where they leave from
The Killarney Jaunting Cars leave from one of several pick-up/drop-off spots: The Lake Hotel (booking required), Torc Waterfall, Muckross House, Killarney Town Centre, and at the first gate into the National Park near the hotel (more info below).
When it comes to showing your appreciation for a great day out, it’s entirely at your discretion. There is an accepted rule of thumb of 10% of the service cost, and good service is always worth rewarding. However, it is entirely up to you how much you tip, or if you tip at all.
5. Dress for the weather
Some jaunting cars are uncovered, leaving riders exposed to both awe-inspiring scenes but also the elements. It’s strongly advised to dress appropriately for the weather, including waterproofs if it’s wet, and with sun protection on sunny days.
The story behind the Jaunting Cars
Traditionally, a jaunting car was a lightly built two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, usually pulled by a single horse – in its day, this was akin to the family car.
Jaunting cars were used by almost everyone who could afford one, and also as a means for others to earn a living by ‘driving’ passengers. The term ‘jarveys’ refers to those who ‘drive’ the jaunting cars.
In today’s vernacular, we can often hear the expression ‘go off on a jaunt’, and this usually refers to a short pleasurable excursion and comes directly from the usage of jaunting cars.
Although widely used throughout Ireland during the 1800s and into the 20th century, jaunting cars are now reserved as a tourist activity for those wanting to connect to a bygone era or perhaps a family legacy.
Some recommended Jaunting Car tours in Killarney
If you’d like to head out with the Jauntys in Killarney, there are a handful of tours you can book into to save you having to go looking for them:
1. Gap of Dunloe: Guided Boat, Jaunting Car, and Bus Tour
Only have one day in Killarney? Then this is the tour you want, as there’s no better way to see everything and get a real feel for the Lakes of Killarney from both land and water.
The day begins at 10:45am and takes approximately 5-hours. You’ll depart from Kate Kearney’s Cottage, stopping at Lord Brandon’s Cottage for lunch.
Afterwards, you’ll head back to Ross Castle via the breathtaking Lakes of Killarney!
2. Killarney: Town Highlights & Traditional Jaunting Car Tour
Another handy way to get around on one of the Killarney Jaunting Cars is on this walking tour through the town that’s followed by a ride on a jaunting car.
The tour takes around 2.5 hours and includes a fully guided walking tour of Killarney and a visit to beautiful Killarney National Park and the Lakes of Killarney.
The tour departs from Killarney Tourist Office, highlights include the gothic St Mary’s Church, historic Ross Castle, and the majestic scenery of Lough Leane.
3. Jaunting Car Tour to Ross Castle from Killarney
This may just be the most magical hour you’ll spend in beautiful Killarney. On this tour, you’ll take a jaunting car ride from historic Ross Castle and enjoy the passing scenery at a horse’s pace whilst sitting in the back of a genuine 19th-century jaunting car.
You’ll also pass by St Mary’s Cathedral, with its impressive gothic construction, and Killarney House and Gardens, which boasts a stunning floral display in spring and summer.
From there, you’ll pass through Killarney National Park, with its ancient woodland and romantic forest setting. The tour ends at tour HQs, at Killarney Jaunting Cars, where you can alight and further explore Killarney town.
4. Killarney Jaunting Cars Tour and Lakes of Killarney Cruise
Over 2-hours of extraordinary travel, first by a glass-covered boat across Lough Lein, and then aboard one of the Killarney Jaunting Cars to traverse through the National Park, this tour truly captures the essence of this magical part of the world.
Tours start at 11:00, in the jaunting car from the wooden bridge, before transferring to the Lily of Killarney at the Ross Castle Pier.
Tours alternate departure points and methods of transport and will be confirmed at the time of booking.
Other things to do while you’re in Killarney
There’s heaps of things to do in Killarney and, luckily enough, many are a stone’s throw from the pick-up and drop-off pints.
Below, you’ll find everything from the various Killarney National Park walks to drives, historical sites and more.
1. Drive the Ring of Kerry
Just under 180-kilometres in length, the Ring of Kerry Drive can be completed in 1 day. However, the incredible landscape deserves more of your attention, so take a few days to really explore it!
2. Visit Killarney National Park
Do yourself a favour, and stretch your legs in the glorious Killarney National Park. There’s plenty to explore, with over 102 square kilometres, and many hiking trails you can wander along at your own pace.
3. Head for a hike
4. See Ladies View
Not just for the lasses, this spectacular scenery should be seen by all; majestic lakes, awe-inspiring mountains, and a landscape that goes on forever, it must be seen to be believed.
FAQs about Jaunting and Jarveys in Killarney
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do they leave from?’ to ‘Do you have to tip?’.
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.
How much are jaunting cars in Killarney?
The cheapest you’ll get one is from around the €32 mark (see above). Some include longer treks/additional experiences and can go as high as €100.
What is a jaunting car in Ireland?
A jaunting car is a 2-wheel cart that gained popularity in Ireland during the early 19th century. Fast forward to 2022 and it’s a mode of transport loved by visiting tourists.