The cache is located close to Ronayne’s Island, a small island in Killarney's Upper Lake named after Philip Ronayne, a man who took up residence on the island in the eighteenth century after he apparently became enraptured with the scenery during a visit to Killarney.
The true identity of Philip Ronayne is unclear – some accounts suggest that he was an English officer who fought at Waterloo, however an alternative belief is that he was a famous mathematician from Co. Cork (born 1683, died 1755) who was thought to visit Killarney frequently for sporting purposes. Most contemporary accounts appear to agree that he was of English origin however.
Whatever the case, it is likely that he came from a privileged background, travel largely being the preserve of the upper classes during that era. In addition, some contemporary reports suggest that he shared the island with a negro manservant for a time.
Once on the island he built a shack (although in some fanciful engravings like the one above it is portrayed as a picturesque cottage!) and lived a subsistence lifestyle, surviving by hunting, fishing and growing a few vegetables. He is said to have jealously guarded his privacy, vigorously driving off any curious people who came to catch a glimpse of this ‘Robinson Crusoe’ type character.
It is unclear what finally became of Ronayne, whether he remained in the area for the rest of his days or whether he moved on to begin a different chapter of his life elsewhere.
George Holmes, writing in “Sketches of Some of the Southern Counties of Ireland” (1797) states:
“We landed on Roman’s [SIC] Island, where we found a small cabin, built by the person from whom the island takes its name: he was a singular character, and retired here to enjoy the pleasures of his rod and gun. It is finely situated, commanding a delightful prospect of the circumjacent hills, with the numerous islands scattered over the lake”.
In J. Stirling Coyne’s 1842 book “The Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland”, a passage reads:
“One of the largest of these (islands) is called Ronayne’s Island, after a recluse who occupied it for some years. He built himself a cottage on the rocks near the water, the ruins of which are still visible, and avoiding all society, employed himself wholly in reading, hunting and fishing. He became exposed, of course, to the visits of curious people, and was on such occasions exceedingly savage and morose; but his name is still mentioned with respect and even admiration, at Killarney”.
The Cache itself is just off the Kerry Way track, and involves a walk of approximately 20-25 minutes one-way from the most convenient car parking spot (the 'queens cottage' pull-in on the N71 - limited parking. See additional waypoint). It is also possible to cycle to a point very close to the cache (undulating stony/gravel track, steep in places).
A 'cross-country' approach from the South is definitely not recommended!
Note that after prolonged spells of heavy rain part of the Kerry Way can become flooded, particularly to the west of the cache. With a little planning this cache can be combined with a boat/bike trip around the Lakes of Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe to link several nearby caches.
On a sunny day (we do get them occasionally!) bring a picnic and a camera and enjoy the scenery!