Ross Castle was built in the late 15th century by the O'Donoghue clan and has a wonderfully eventful history of battles and legends. In the Desmond rebellion of the 16th century the castle changed hands and was then occupied by the Brownes who owned it until recently although they lived in a grand house nearby. During the Irish Confederate Wars, Ross Castle was one of the last to surrender in a great Shakespearian-style plot in which they believed the castle would only be taken if battleships appeared on the lake. Their attackers did bring artillery in by boat and the sight was said to so upset onlookers and inhabitants that the castle submitted. After the war, the Brownes got their lands back by arguing that their heir was too young to have been one of the rebels.
There is another, earlier legend which says that O'Donohue was sucked from the upper windows into the lake, along with his horse, and now lives at the bottom of the lake keeping an eye on things. Haunted or not, the castle retains oak There is another, earlier legend which says that O'Donohue was sucked from the upper windows into the lake, along with his horse, and now lives at the bottom of the lake keeping an eye on things. Haunted or not, the castle retains oak furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries and is well worth a visit as one of Ireland's best medieval Irish Chieftain strongholds.
Only 1.25 miles (2km) from Killarney on the shores of Lough Leane, access to the castle is very limited with only 15 visitors allowed at once. It is best to pre-book a tour or you may be waiting a while to get in especially in high summer.