The mighty Moll’s Gap in Killarney is one of the most popular stops on the Ring of Kerry route.
Named after Moll Kissane (discover the tale below!), it’s one of a small number of attractions in the area that can feel a bit anti-climatic for first-time visitors.
However, there’s a magic to this place – once you know where to look. Discover everything you need-to-know below.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Moll’s Gap in Killarney
From cyclists and bikers, to road trippers from across the globe, it’s an ideal place to stop for a coffee, lunch, or just to take in the views. Here’s what you need to know.
It couldn’t be easier to find parking at Moll’s Gap. There’s a spacious car park right at the gap itself, with plenty of room for bikers, cyclists and cars. It’s opposite the large Avoca store.
It’s easy to get carried away with the sheer beauty of your surroundings, but take care. The car park is on a tight bend, with a junction, so you’ll not always hear or see traffic coming. If you’re popping into the cafe, just make sure you check twice, you never know if there’ll be a biker trying to get their knee down on the hairpin!
3. The views
If you can, try and get to Moll’s Gap on a clear day! The views from the top of the mountain pass are spectacular, taking in the rugged beauty of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, shimmering lakes, bogs, and vibrant green pastures.
4. Part of the Ring of Kerry
Moll’s Gap is one of the more notable stops on the Ring of Kerry route from Killarney to Kenmare. For that reason, it can get busy here. However, it’s rare that people spend too long at this point, so parking shouldn’t be a problem.
About Moll’s Gap (and where it got its name!)
Moll’s Gap is named after Moll Kissane. Moll was the landlady of what is known as a ‘Shebeen’.
A ‘Shebeen’ is a small, unlicensed pub that was once commonly found dotted throughout Ireland.
Moll Kissane’s ‘Sheebeen’
Moll’s ‘Shebeen’ sprung up during the construction of the Killarney to Kenmare road in the 1820s.
The road would have required a lot of effort to construct, with many-a-hardy-fella said to take part in the build.
Now, hard work builds a fine aul thirst. And Moll spotted an opportunity.
If you’re not familiar with Poitin, it’s one of the oldest Irish drinks. Poitin is a ‘hard liquor’, sometimes made from potatoes.
The story goes that Moll made Poitin somewhere close to what we know known as ‘Moll’s Gap’.
The Poitin was said to fuel the men working on the road — or at least put a little fire in their bellies!
Nowadays, the shebeen is long gone (there’s some great pubs in Killarney, if you fancy a pint!), but thankfully the road has been completed.
What to look out for when visiting Moll’s Gap
As I mentioned earlier, some feel a little let down by Moll’s Gap (going off the many emails we receive, anyway).
However, it’s a great stop along the ROK route once you know what to expect. If you’re starting the Ring of Kerry in Killarney, you’ll follow the route clockwise and eventually hit Ladies Gap.
The road that leads to the gap is a beaut
From here, this is where the approach to Moll’s Gap begins, and this is where the magic starts.
If you look at the map above, you’ll see a blue line. This isn’t Moll’s Gap, but it’s the route towards it.
This is a beautiful stretch of road with many bends and you’ll be treated to glorious views of Looscaunagh Lough and the national park.
The view back from the parking area
The yellow marker on the map above is the car park at Moll’s Gap. From here, you’ll get a good eyeful of the road you’ve just spun along
Although it isn’t an aerial view, the car park is slightly elevated, so you’ll get a good view of the mountains, the gap and the very bendy road.
Things to see and do near Moll’s Gap in Killarney
One of the beauties of Moll’s Gap in Killarney is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Moll’s Gap (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Ladies View
Just 6 km (3.7 miles) from Moll’s Gap heading towards Killarney is Ladies View. This is another spectacular view point along the Ring of Kerry, and is ranked as one of the most photographed views in Ireland. Seeing is believing, with out-of-this-world scenery that evokes a pang of nostalgia for a forgotten time and place.
2. Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall is one of Ireland’s most incredible waterfalls, dropping 20 meters (66 ft) from the face of Torc mountain. It’s just down the road from Moll’s Gap, in Killarney National Park, and a popular stop on the Ring of Kerry. The walk up to the waterfall is beautiful too, and if you’re lucky you might bump into some deer. There are two excellent walks nearby: Cardiac Hill and the Torc Mountain Walk.
3. Ross Castle
Ross Castle dates back to the 15th century and is a wonder to behold. Wrapped in myth and real-life legend, the only time the castle was ever taken was when an age-old prophecy was fulfilled.
It’s a fascinating castle to explore; you can get a good look inside on a tour, or you can see it on one of the many Killarney National Park walks.
4. Muckross Abbey
Also in Killarney National Park, Muckross Abbey is another must-see. Founded way back in 1448, the walls have borne witness to a long and sometimes bloody history.
Despite many years of raids and assaults, the abbey remains in fairly good condition. It’s a really interesting place to walk around, and the huge yew tree in the central courtyard seems almost magical.
FAQs about visiting Moll’s Gap in Killarney
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park at Moll’s Gap to what there is to see and do nearby.
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 it easy to get parking at Moll’s Gap?
Yep. There’s a big car park right next to the Avoca cafe, so you won’t have any hassle. You can also get a decent view from the car park itself.
Where can you get the best view?
Personally, I think the best view of Moll’s Gap is from the back left corner of the car park, as it’s slightly elevated and you can watch the cars (and sheep…) from above.
Who is Moll’s Gap named after?
Moll’s Gap is named after Moll Kissane. Moll was the landlady of what is known as a ‘Shebeen’ and is said to have supplied Poitin to those building the Killarney to Kenmare road during the 1820s.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.