As well as exploring the below listed Islands and taking advantage of the daily ferry trips to Cape Clear, Sherkin and Heir Island, there are also many more activities to be sampled and things to do in West Cork
The journey from Baltimore West Cork to the Irish speaking island
of Cape Clear takes just forty five minutes on The Cailin Or Ferry and is a spectacularly
beautiful one on a clear day. Here you will receive a warm welcome
from the people who live at the most southerly tip of Ireland apart
from the Fastnet lighthouse which lies six miles to the South-West.
Places of interest include, the heritage centre, the ornithological
centre and St. Kieran’s church. The island also has shops, pubs,
accommodation and a restaurant.
Wild romantic scenery with heather, gorse and wild flowers covering steep rugged hills, sparkling harrbours and spectacular cliffs, all contributing to the island's unspoilt charm. Many historic sites and a birdwatchers paradise.
The Fastnet Lighthouse
situated in the Atlantic Ocean and marking Ireland’s most southerly point the Fastnet Lighthouse - also known as the teardrop of Ireland - was the last piece of the country emigrants saw as they parted for their new life in America.
Just six miles from Cape Clear and seven from Crookhaven it is often referred to by it’s Irish name, Carraig Aonar meaning the lonely rock.
The first lighthouse built on the rock - finished in 1854 - was made of cast iron but was not thought to be able to withstand the weather after part of the rock had been swept away by the fierce Atlantic waves in 1865, so, in 1896 granite blocks were shipped over from Cornwall to build a new one.
However, this was not completed until 1906 and while under construction the foreman in charge - James Cavanagh - sometimes stayed there for a year at a time.
As well as being an invaluable mark for both large and small ships alike the Fastnet is also useful to the many locals, some of whom judge the weather according to the rock’s visibility. Image courtesy of Failte Ireland.
A little piece of haven, tucked away in a corner of Roaringwater Bay. An idyllic location for family picnic on a necklace of wonderful, sheltered sandy beaches. Heir island can be accessed throughout the year on the MV Thresher Ferry departing from Cunnamore Pier near Baltimore.
With a population of just 10 to 25 year round residents with up to 150 in the summer, a pier, a fine sandy beach, a shop and a restaurant, Heir island is a popular destination for those who want a bit of peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of life on the mainland. Although having no pub Heir island is populated by a number of self catering cottages, B&B’s, a shop and a restaurant, the Island Cottage. The Island Cottage restaurant is an up and coming restaurant of some renown. As well as fine food and dining, the restaurant also provides an opportunity for visitors to avail of some cookery courses while staying on the island. From April to November this restaurant has a range of cookery courses the most popular being a two day cookery course for groups of two people where they spend the night on the Island and in between cooking lessons can enjoy the rest of what the island offers.
For the intrepid explorer and would be ecologist the centre of the island has an extensive marsh with a vibrant reed bed where you'll find many unusual birds and over 200 varieties of wild flowers, and it thus is an ideal spot to rent a bike and cycle around or walk along the many trails taking in the views it provides of the coast, the sea and the panorama of surrounding islands and the mainland of Baltimore.
As well as being remote and quiet and thus providing a welcome break for some, it is also paradise for those who want to take advantage of its coastline and seafaring activities and opportunities. Heir islands’ coastline and its safe sailing waters is perfect for many watersports and activities.
Heir Island has seven silver sandy beaches with the most well known being the Reen beach making them ideal spots for some swimming and sunbathing while taking in the rays of the sun during the summer months. With the Atlantic waters pure and unpolluted and being of a reasonably consistent temperature throughout the year it is a good place all year for a variety of water activities including swimming, kayaking, angling, sailing, windsurfing, surfing and diving.
The many caves, sea arches and creeks around Heir Island can be easily explored on a kayak around the island and the island provides lessons and opportunities to learn and enjoy this activity. And for those interested in sailing there is a Sailing School situated on the island that catering to a teaching and accommodating up to 18 mixed ability sailors at one time.
Heir Island provides for a number of different visitors being simultaneously suitable for those wanting a quiet break and the waters and facilities also providing for those who want to make the most of the waters and beaches around.
Only 10 minutes ferry crossing from Baltimore. The islands offers tranquil beauty with breathtaking landscapes and stunning clean golden beaches. Leisure walks past Francisacn Abbey, O'Driscoll Castle ruin, old Light House and art dislpays
Sherkin a small , lightly populated island located just off Ireland's southwest coast in West Cork directly opposite Baltimore, Ireland. There are ferries daily from Baltimore (15 minute crossing). Baltimore Harbour is a large, well sheltered natural harbour and is very popular with sailors. A pleasant relaxing day could be spent here. The island is busiest during the summer months.
The Ferry to Sherkin sails from Baltimore on the mainland. This island is a tourist destination. The journey to the neighbouring Gaeltacht island Cape Clear takes on average approximately 40 minutes.
Sherkin has its own special character. Many of Sherkin's residents are active in the fields ofart: island craft, paintings and book writing, all inspired by Sherkins tranquil lifestyle.
The busiest season starts with school summer holidays when people with young families visit the island. The busiest day of the year is a celebration of Sherkin Regatta, usually held on the 3rd weekend in July, but which is postponed to August if weather does not allow. On this day the island is crowded with sea rowers and their fans. Children's activities, music and food stalls are all part of this Sherkin fair.