The Mad Story Behind Lord Brandon’s Cottage (And How To Reach It By Foot + Boat)

Lord Brandon's Cottage kerry
Photo left: Johannes Rigg. Photo right: Grantibo (Shutterstock)

The chances are if you’ve ever done the Gap of Dunloe walk, you’ll have stumbled upon Lord Brandon’s Cottage.

Located at the ‘end’ of the gap, if you walk from the Kate Kearny side, Lord Brandon’s Cottage is a welcome site for those that have conquered the first leg of the walk.

Once a grand hunting lodge, the cottage has a tale of love and betrayal tide to it, which you’ll discover shortly.

In the guide below, you’ll find out everything from how to reach Lord Brandon’s Cottage via a boat tour from Ross Castle to how you can included it as part of a fine cycle through the Gap.

Some quick need-to-knows about Lord Brandon’s Cottage

Lord Brandon’s Cottage killarney
Photo by Grantibo (Shutterstock)

A visit to Lord Brandon’s Cottage isn’t as straightforward as you might think, especially if you’re not driving (it’s a good aul spin from Killarney!).

Below, you’ll find some speedy info on how to get to it (pay particular attention to point 3, about driving).

1. Location

You’ll find Lord Brandon’s Cottage located at the far southern end of the Gap of Dunloe, not far from the Black Valley.

2. How to get to it

The best way to see it is to rent a bike in the town and take one of the boat tours from Ross Castle across the water. You’ll find info on this in the guide below.

You can also reach Lord Brandon’s Cottage if you take the N71 (the Ring of Kerry road) from Killarney Town and turn off near Moll’s Gap (pop it into Google Maps).

3. How not to get to it

Some people will drive though the Gap of Dunloe to reach Lord Brandon’s Cottage. You should only do this VERY EARLY in the morning, before walkers, cyclists and the jaunting cars arrive.

4. The cafe

There’s a cafe at Lord Brandon’s Cottage now, where you can nip into for a coffee or a small snack. According to reviews, they only take cash, so make sure to hit up an ATM if you plan on visiting.

The interesting folklore behind Lord Brandon

who was Lord Brandon
Photo left: Johannes Rigg. Photo right: Grantibo (Shutterstock)

The story of Lord Brandon is an interesting one. Various legends are associated with the stone tower and cottage at the top of the upper lake in Killarney.

Very little is left of the old structures, with exception to a crumbling tower where, according to local folklore, Lord Brandon imprisoned his young wife after hearing that she had had an affair with Lord Melbourne, Britain’s future PM.

Then they went to court

The situation was taken to court in 1829 after Lord Brandon found intimate letters between the two and the issue was a major sensation in the UK.

Indeed, a broken Lord Brandon went off to mainland Europe to hide from the spotlight. After this the cottage fell into a sorry state.

Two tales behind the tower

There’s a couple of different tales behind why the tower near Lord Brandon’s Cottage was built. The first is that it was constructed for Lord Brandon so that he could shoot deer from an elevated point.

The second tale says that the tower was built to give Brandon’s wife ‘freedom’, as she had complained that she was deprived of fresh air. Freedom… while still locked up.

Getting a boat to Lord Brandon’s Cottage from Killarney

ross castle kerry
Photo by Hugh O’Connor on Shutterstock

Although Lord Brandon’s Cottage isn’t, in our opinion, worth visiting on its own, there’s plenty to see nearby, to make it well worth the trip.

The best thing to do is to combine a visit to the cottage with a boat tour from Ross Castle and to cycle the Gap.

Step 1: Rent a bike in Killarney Town

Lord Brandon’s Cottage to kate kearney's
Photo by Akintevs (Shutterstock)

Just outside the bounds of Killarney National Park is a bike rental spot called Killarney Bike Rental that is ideal for those looking to explore the area, including Lord Brandon’s Cottage, by bike.

Step 2: Take the boat from Ross Castle to Lord Brandon’s

boat from ross castle
Photo via Google Maps

There’s a tour organised by these lads that’ll take you from Ross Castle over to Lord Brandon’s Cottage BETWEEN 09:30 AND 11:00 each day.

This is perfect for those of you that fancy exploring the Gap by bike (note: you need to book tickets in advance).

Step 3: Cycle through the Gap of Dunloe

the gap of dunloe in kerry
Photos via Shutterstock

After taking the boat from Ross Castle Lord Brandon’s Cottage, it is possible to continue through to Kate Kearney’s cottage. 

The cycle will take you around 45 minutes or so, depending how often you stop to soak up the views.

Step 4: Have a well earned coffee and cake in Kate Kearney’s

kate kearney's
Photos via Kate Kearney’s Cottage on Facebook

You will be rewarded with a coffee and a cake at the lovely little café located at Kate Kearney’s cottage at the end of the first leg of the cycle!

Choose from espresso-based coffee or tea with one of their delicious homemade cakes such as chocolate, coffee and walnut or carrot cake!

Step 5: Cycle back to Killarney

the cycle back to killarney
Photo by FS Stock (Shutterstock)

From Kate Killarney’s, it’s a 40-minute cycle back to Killarney. The roads can be dangerous and, in places, narrow, so please be careful.

There are plenty of things to do in Killarney when you arrive back to the town:

FAQs about visiting Lord Brandon’s Cottage in Killarney

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how to get from Ross Castle to Lord Brandon’s Cottage to whether it’s worth visiting on its own.

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 Lord Brandon’s Cottage worth visiting?

On its own? No! However, if you combine a visit with a boat tour from Ross Castle and a visit to the Gap of Dunloe, then yes, it is.

How do you get from Ross Castle to Lord Brandon’s Cottage?

The best way is to hop on one of the boat tours that leave daily from the pier by the castle. You can then cycle the Gap and loop back to Killarney.

Is there a cafe at Lord Brandon’s Cottage?

According to reviews online, yes – there is. Reviews mention that the service is warm and friendly, that they only take cash and that there are small snacks on offer.

James Connolly is a professional writer based in London. Having lived in cities across the world including Mumbai, Medellin and Barcelona, he uses his expertise to write articles showcasing the best of global travel.

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