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West Cork

Fastnet Lighthouse, Baltimore, West Cork, Ireland.
The Fastnet Lighthouse sticks up out of the Atlantic like a finger pointing at the heavens, and marks Ireland s most southerly point. It s also known as the teardrop of Ireland, being the last piece of Ireland,s shore emigrants saw as they sailed for a new life in America.

The Fastnet Rock is approximately 9 miles from Baltimore and 4.5 miles south-west of Clear Island The tide rise 12 feet and currents round the rock at Springtides can attain a force of 3 knots. It is a very rare occurrence for the water to be sufficiently smooth to enable people to land on the rock.

In the early 19th century, Ireland had only three sea lights on its South West Corner: 
Loophead at the mouth of the Shannon River, 
The Old Head of Kinsale and the third on the highest point of Clear Island. 
It was the location of the Clear Island light that led to the building of a lighthouse in the Fastnet Rock.

The first lighthouse to be built there was finished in 1854 and made of cast iron, but by 1865 the fierce Atlantic waves had swept away part of the rock upon which it was built and it seemed that the tower would not stand up to the weather.

The first Fastnet Lighthouse was a cast iron tower designed by George Halpin. It was started in 1849 and finished in 1853 and was built because the old light on Clear Island was too far inside outlying danger and at so high an elevation that it was frequently obscured by fog.

The cost including shore dwellings was £20,000. During a gale in November 1881 the glass was broken by the sea and one lens was damaged.

In 1891 it was decided that the old lighthouse was not powerful enough and as the Fastnet Rock was the principal landfall light on the south-west coast, it should be made as powerful as circumstances would permit. So in 1896 preparations started for the foundations of the new tower, - granite blocks were shipped in from Cornwall to build a new one. This was not completed and in working order until 1906. The foreman in charge of its construction, James Cavanagh, sometimes stayed for a year at a time!
The second lighthouse consists of 89 courses, 2074 stones and weighs 4,633 tons. The tower was erected in sections of 6-8 courses at a time in the contractors yard in Cornwall and inspected before being shipped out to Rock Island in Crookhaven Harbour, where they had built an office, stores, carpenters and blacksmiths shops and a barrack for the workmen, together with dwellings for the lighthouse keeper and magazines for cotton powder, charges and detonators.

Re-Construction of the Fastnet Lighthouse (Ireland's most recognisable lighthouse) was completed in 1906 at a cost of £90,000. The Fastnet Lighthouse is a monument to the vision, workmanship and perseverance of those involved.

There was a specially-built steamer for landing the materials on the Fastnet, named The lerne, at 126 feet long, she could carry 90 tons loaded.

The masonry was completed over 4 years. There is a central water tank, which holds 3,250 gallons of fresh water in the base of the lighthouse. Above this tank are 8 rooms topped off by the optical apparatus and lantern. The lantern had a single flash recurring every 5 seconds and the power of the beam at maximum intensity was equivalent to 750,000 candles at it used 1.2 pints of oil at maximum output. The cost of mantles etc. was about £45 per annum and the ammunition for the fog signal was on average £260 per year. There was a staff of 6 keepers; 4 at a time on the rock and 2 ashore. Reliefs were made twice monthly, if the weather allowed, so they had one month on and 2 weeks off. The lighthouse keepers performed all the signalling and telegraphy duties and Lloyds Insurance of London paid £200 per year to cover the costs of these duties.

They kept a one man watch by day; two were on duty at night and the other to signal and look out for fog. As soon as fog was seen another man was called to work the fog signal.

The annual cost of maintenance and repairs to the station was about £1,000 not including the travelling expenses of the keepers.

In October 1969, the Fastnet became the first Irish lighthouse at which normal scheduled relief was carried out by helicopter. Principal Keeper, Edward

Hickey, was returned to his station at Castletownbere and the Assistant Keeper, Ran Egan, went ashore on liberty. This was a milestone in the use of helicopters in Ireland and in the history of Irish lights.

Since 1989 the lighthouse has been unmanned and now operates on an automatic basis. So nowadays, there are no watchful eyes on `Carraig Aonar'. Carraig Aonar, meaning lonely rock, is the Irish name given to the Fastnet Rock. It is also known as the 'Teardrop of Ireland' as it was the last thing emigrants would see as they left Irelands's shore.

Local folklore relates how a giant picked up the rock which is now the Fastnet from Mount Gabriel near Ballydehob and hurled it into the sea. However it got there, the Fastnet is invaluable as a mark for large ships following Atlantic routes, and it is also useful to locals who judge what the weather is about to do by checking on the rock s visibility.

Ring of Beara, West Cork & Kerry

The Beara Peninsula offers some spectacular scenery and wonderful walks.  The peninsula is  remote with bleak moorland and sparsely populated fishing villages. The main traditional tourist attractions on the peninsula are the ruins of Dunboy Castle, Puxley Mansion, The Copper Mines Museum in Allihies,  Garnish Island in Glengariff, Dereen Gardens, (privately owned but open to the public).

Many people come just to enjoy the wild and untamed nature of the place and the magical coastline.

The "Ring of Beara" is a tourist trail for cars which follows the roads for about 195 kilometres circumnavigating the peninsula. It starts in Kenmare Co Kerry, crossing the Healy Pass through Adrigole, passing the fishing port of Castletownbere, Allihies, and turns off to Dursey Island, Eyeries and Ardgroom, ending in Glengariff West Cork. The area has had a long connection with the sea; Castletownbere is one of Ireland's largest fishing ports and has diving, sailing and boating facilities.

The attractive village of Castletownshend in West Cork is situated on the coast about 8km from Skibbereen. The village developed around the castle, which was built in the mid 1600s by the Townshends and is the seat of the family. The steeply inclined main street runs down to the castle, the quayside and the harbour.

The village sits on the north side of Castlehaven Harbour in the parish of Castlehaven, which owes its name to the castle that protects the haven. Anciently it was called Glanbarrahane, named from a deep rocky glen dedicated to St. Barrahane, a local 5th century hermit saint.

A unique feature of Castletownshend is the two sycamore trees growing in the roundabout in the centre of the village. The present sycamores replace two trees planted in the 1800s. Also to be visited is Egon Ronay pub and restaurant - Mary Anne's Pub and Restaurant, home base of the famous Castlehaven Gaelic Football Club.

Village Church

Saint Barrahane's Church (church of Ireland) stands on a hill overlooking the village close to the castle. It contains beautiful stained glass windows and many historic relics and memorials to the families of the village. Of particular note are three large stone tablets, which tell the history of the founding families, many of whose members are buried in the graveyard attached to the church.
 

Somerville and Ross

Somerville and Ross were the pseudonyms of cousins Dr. Edith Somerville (1858-1949) and Violet Florence Martin, pen name Martin Ross (1862-1915), who wrote a series of humorous novels and short stories. Most of their books were set in a background of West Cork at the turn of the century and told of the experiences of an Irish Resident Magistrate. Their best know writings were first published in 1928 under the title The Irish R.M. Complete and later Experiences of an Irish R.M. The Irish R.M. and The Real Charlotte were serialised for television in the 1980's. During their life together the cousins resided at Drishane House on the outskirts of Castletownshend village. Violet Martin died in 1915 from the effects of a riding accident some years earlier. Edith Somerville continued to live at Drishane between her travels abroad until her death in 1949 at an advanced age. Somerville and Ross are buried in the graveyard at the rear of St. Barrahane's Church, marked by two simple headstones. In the church is the organ Dr. Somerville played for many decades. 

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

  • Castletownshend Harbour
  • Village Church
  • Somerville and Ross Graves
  • Toe Head 

Schull Planetarium West Cork

This is the only planetarium in the Republic of Ireland. With an eight-metre dome it can display the night sky and any configuration of stars, which could have been seen from the northern hemisphere in recorded history. Its opening hours vary, July and August have the most extensive hours and there are daily demonstrations and simulations. There are also public shows and special events are advertised. It's possible to book privately also. Shows are on 8pm onwards.

Drombeg Stone Circle

Drombeg stone circle also known as The Druid's Altar, is a Recumbent stone circle located 2.4km east of Glandore, County Cork, Ireland. Latitude: 51.564553N Longitude: 9.08702W), Drombeg is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland. The area of the circle has been covered in gravel to protect it from the volume of visitors.

The stone circle consists of seventeen closely spaced stones spanning 9m in diameter, of which 13 survive. The most westerly stone (1.9m high) is the long recumbent and has two egg shaped cup-marks, one with a ring around it. A Cork-Kerry type stone circle, it is flanked by a pair of 1.8m high axial portal stones, which provide a south-west axis, and orientate the monument in the direction of the setting sun during the midwinter solstice. The stones in the circle have been shaped to slope upwards to the recumbent stone, the midpoint of which was set in line with the winter solstice sunset viewed in a conspicuous notch in the distant hills. While the alignment is good, it is not precise.

The ruins of two round stone walled conjoined prehistoric huts and a fulacht fiadh lie just 40m west of the monument. Evidence suggests the fulacht fiadh was in use up until the 5th century AD. The larger of the huts had a timber roof supported by a timber post. The smaller hut had a cooking oven on its east side. A causeway leads from the huts to the cooking place (fulacht fiadh) featuring a hearth, well and trough in which water was boiled by adding hot stones.

Kayaking

Sea kayaking is becoming more and more popular as an exciting outdoor activity. Though a considerable amount of skill and experience is required for ocean seas and difficult weather, kayakers can quickly learn the sport under the guidance of Atlantic Seakayaking here in Baltimore, West Cork in the calm waters of Lough Ine, Barlogue, and Roaring Water Bay.

Weather conditions, tides, currents and many other factors must be closely observed for safety. Like all outdoor activities, learning how to paddle a sea kayak can seem difficult at first, but given the proper training and conditions, it is easy to learn. The equipment is designed to be very stable and easy to use. Most people are comfortably kayaking within the first few minutes on the water. It is a thrilling experience to propell yourself silently across the surface of the sea, admiring the beauty of West Cork. If you are generally fit you can do it.

West Cork Tour with Atlantic Seakayaking:

This is a unique opportunity to experience Irish culture, food and adventure with Jim Kennedy, as he shares his local knowledge, networks and experience and opens the mystical door to a hidden Ireland. 

Ireland. The Hidden West Cork. 

Day 1

  • Meet at Casey's of Baltimore where we will be based for the next two nights.  
  • Here we will take a little time to unpack, unwind meet the guides and get orientated. 
  • We have an early lunch at the hotel.
  • After lunch we visit the quaint fishing village of Union Hall.  http://www.unionhall.ie/

  • Here we are introduced to sea kayaking in a very leisurely and gentle way. We spend the afternoon exploring the coastline, seaweed foraging, and wildlife watching and exploring the amazing West Cork coastline by kayak and on foot.  We spend about three easy hours in the kayaks.
  • We then take a break for dinner and visit the Village of Castletownshend where we are treated to some of the great foods that has made West Cork such a special part of Ireland. We dine in the very famous and unique Mary Anne’s Bar in Castletownshend.  
  • Just as dusk is falling we again take to the kayaks and set off on our special starlight / moonlight adventure with Atlantic Sea Kayaking using state-of-the-art double kayaks.  In 2012 Trip Advisor voted this trip as one of the top 10 kayak trips in the world.  The trip has also been praised by National Geographic. This magical kayak is a gentle and atmospheric adventure.Afterwards we return to Caseys of Baltimore Hotel looking forward to a nightcap before bed.  

Day 2 

  • This  morning you have time to unwind And enjoy Breakfast at Caseys of Baltimore hotel and relax before we begin our day of discovery.
  • We meet you at midday and today we get a chance to really experience the hidden Ireland. 
  • We visit some beautiful Atlantic scenic spots and take gentle hikes along the cliffs and beaches. 
  • We visit some of the local artisan food producers, hear their stories and maybe taste some of their produce, a truly special Irish experience.  This part of Ireland is famous for it organic producers and has become a big part of the slow food movement.  
  • We have lunch in another quaint pub, know for it organic produce and atmosphere. 
  • We get an opportunity to visit the Drombeg stone circle, said to be the best preserved one in Ireland and learn about its sacred ways. www.megalithicireland.com/Drombeg.htm 
  • Later that evening after a delicious West Cork dinner we retire to a local pub for traditional music and also get a chance to join in and play a Bodhran or at least have fun trying  (an Irish drum). Afterwards it is again back to Caseys of Baltimore hotel and a well-earned bed.

Day 3. After another great  breakfast 

  • We say our goodbyes and depart. it is goodbye to new friends and special places. 
We say in Gaelic  Slan go foill   or “see you again some time.”
  • Price:  €495  p/p - prebooking essential.

Here is what some people have said about Atlantic Seakayaking :

  • Reviewed 1 October 2012  Trip Advisor Coleen from Minnesota 
‘When I lay dying and I'm playing my "final slideshow", my night kayak on Lough Hyne with Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea kayaking will definitely play...outstanding and magical experience! Mother Nature puts on the best show, and the fine people of Atlantic Sea Kayaking make great guides!
  • ‘Reviewed 11 September 2012 LucKas75  Glendale, California 
“This was the highlight of our Ireland trip . 
“ Jim, Thank you Thank you Thank you We were so happy to have gone on the kayaking trip. It was absolutely amazing. 
“The night was gorgeous. The trip was well coordinated. It's amazing. I still can't believe the beautiful scenery we saw. It was a dream

Jim Kennedy Specialist Guide:

  • Specialises in all things Irish, especially coastal and marine wild life, seaweed, stories and music.
  • Has built up a network of adventurers, musicians and artisan food producers in Ireland.
  • As well as hidden areas of interest of course.
  • Owns and manages Atlantic Sea Kayaking. 

For more  see: www.atlanticseakayaking.com

It’s no wonder they call West Cork “A Place Apart”. Nature sets the pace in this beautiful south west corner of Ireland – stretching from smart south-coast Kinsale to three rugged westerly peninsulas reaching into the wild Atlantic: Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and Beara.

West Cork is the place many Dubliners head for – leaving hurried city lives behind to play along the long zig-zagging coastline, and walk or ride through peaceful inland woods and valleys. Hundreds of inlets, tiny coves, safe harbours and blue-flag beaches are just right for long active days in the salty air – learning to sail, surfing, diving, whale watching, island-hopping, bird spotting, kayaking on a salt-water lake in the moonlight, messing about in boats. Or simply eating a fresh crab sandwich on a quayside.

Thanks to its gentle and generous Nature, this corner has a wonderful food culture. West Cork’s farmers, award-winning artisan producers and chefs are leading Ireland’s culinary revolution. From traditional pubs to world-class restaurants in West Cork, at local farmers’ markets, and long-established food festivals, you can enjoy great food right across West Cork.

There’s something restorative about the temperate climate and sub-tropical gardens, the tranquil lanes thick with fuchsia and monbretia, the sudden glimpses of water through the trees, the shifting light, and the soft greens, greys and violets of bays and distant mountains. There’s edge-of-the-world drama too: climbing up to a mountain pass through ever-changing weather, crossing the bridge to the end of Mizen Head with the Atlantic crashing below, or taking the cable car to Dursey Island - one of over a hundred West Cork islands. Seven of these are inhabited, including Ireland’s most southerly community on Oiléan Chléire (Cape Clear) “the storytellers’ island”, where Irish is spoken as a first language, and there’s an independent way of life.

Beyond Cape Clear, the imposing Fastnet Lighthouse stands on a rock known as Ireland’s tear drop – for emigrants to the new world, this was their last sight of their native land. The whole coast echoes with history – ancient sites, ruined castles, coastal forts, copper mines. Cork is proudly ‘the rebel county’ and it was here, at Clonakilty, that Michael Collins – ‘the Big Fella’ – lived and died.

West Cork is both very Irish, and quite cosmopolitan – for many have ‘blown-in’ on the winds and stayed to make this beautiful place their home. There’s a strong creative community here. Arts and crafts, storytelling and traditional music thrive – as do scores of cultural festivals.

People here value the good things in life. It feels warm-hearted and kind. It’s a place that takes its time and helps us to slow down … It’s A Place Apart.

As well as the below places to visits, sights to see and areas to explore, there is an abundance of West Cork activities and things to do in West Cork and hotels in West Cork to choose from.

Baltimore Beacon

has Breathtaking views of Baltimore Harbour , Sherkin Island , the Atlantic Ocean and the estuary of the Ilen river is an ideal area for a quiet peaceful walk. more info

Sherkin Island

Short ferry trip of just 10 minutes across the harbour from Baltimore boasts of beautiful golden sandy beaches including Silver Strand and Trabawn and scenic walks Cape.

Cape Clear Island

Is an excellent location for bird watching, megalithic standing stones, and a heritage centre that traces the history and folklore of the island with ferry services from Baltimore –on a scenic passage journey time 40 Minutes.

The Glebe Gardens & Gallery Baltimore

Open from May to end of September.

Lough Ine

Is Natural Sea Water Lake with woods all around, ideal for walks; you can climb Lough Ine hill on a pathway through the woods. From the top, you have a 25 Miles view of the country side.

Heir Island

Is situated in Roaring Water Bay with a beautiful sheltered beach and quiet walks has an all year ferry Service from Cunnamore near Church Cross or Summer time only from Baltimore at 11am and 2.15pm.

O’Driscoll Castles

are situated in Baltimore , Sherkin, Cape Clear , Old Court and Lough Ine RNLI Lifeboat Centre is on the seafront at Baltimore Harbour. Fastnet Lighthouse : may be views by Ferry from Baltimore weather permitting, Summer time only.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre

The Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition commemorates the tragic period in the 1840s that is known in Irish History as the Great Hunger. Skibbereen was one of the worst affected areas, and the events of the era are depicted using local characters and events.

The Lough Hyne Visitor Centre explains the unique nature of this salt water marine lake, Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve.

Other features include an archaeology trail of the Skibbereen area, displays on the Old Gasworks Building and information on the species living on the River Ilen.

The Skibbereen Heritage Centre now offer Genealogical RC church records for Skibbereen, Rath and the Islands of West Cork Ireland as well as the Griffith’s Valuation for the greater West Cork area, the Tithe Applotments etc.

The Skibbereen Heritage Centre houses the 1901 and 1911 Census records and provides helpful information for those seeking genealogy information covering Skibbereen town & District, West Cork Ireland. Their website lists the townlands recorded in each census. These records are available for sale in printed form and the staff of the heritage centre are often able to look up information requested via email. Please include all of the information that you have.

West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen

The West Cork Arts Centre was established in 1985 in Skibbereen. A publicly funded arts facility the West Cork Arts Centre works with local, national and international artists, art organisations and other such agencies to create opportunities and develop exhibition programmes for the people of West Cork to have access to, and engage with, local and global arts. 
With year round exhibitions taking place at the West Cork Arts Centre, their diverse exhibition programme includes all aspects of contemporary arts practice from drawing, painting, and sculpture to performance and film.

Liss Ard Gardens, Skibbereen, West Cork, Ireland South

At Lissard 200 acres of woodlands, meadows, lakes and waterfalls are being devoted to Irish Nature. This unique approach to garden design concentrates on the ecological development of the garden placing Man as the centre of perception within Nature. The design includes quiet walks and areas of contemplation as well as Art work by James Turrell, in the form of the Irish Sky Garden. Follow the suggested routes experiencing the beauty, wonder and tranquility of these gardens. The garden will reach maturity in 30 to 50 years time.

The magnificent gardens and woodlands at Liss Ard add to the uniqueness of the estate. Throughout, there are specially designed pathways and walkways that accentuate the guest's appreciation of Irish flora.
In addition to the main Lake Abisdealy, there are a number of ponds and a waterfall dotted around the estate, that create a feeling that can only be compared to that in the Garden of Eden.
The Crater was created for the Irish skies to be appreciated by the spectators lying on the stone structures at the bottom - the dome-effect that is created in the elliptical frame is truly an unforgettable experience.

The attractive village of Castletownshend in West Cork

is situated on the coast about 8km from Skibbereen. The village developed around the castle, which was built in the mid 1600s by the Townshends and is the seat of the family. The steeply inclined main street runs down to the castle, the quayside and the harbour.

The village sits on the north side of Castlehaven Harbour in the parish of Castlehaven, which owes its name to the castle that protects the haven. Anciently it was called Glanbarrahane, named from a deep rocky glen dedicated to St. Barrahane, a local 5th century hermit saint.

A unique feature of Castletownshend is the two sycamore trees growing in the roundabout in the centre of the village. The present sycamores replace two trees planted in the 1800s. Also to be visited is Egon Ronay pub and restaurant - Mary Anne's Pub and Restaurant, home base of the famous Castlehaven Gaelic Football Club.

Saint Barrahane's Church (church of Ireland)

stands on a hill overlooking the village close to the castle. It contains beautiful stained glass windows and many historic relics and memorials to the families of the village. Of particular note are three large stone tablets, which tell the history of the founding families, many of whose members are buried in the graveyard attached to the church.

Somerville and Ross

Somerville and Ross were the pseudonyms of cousins Dr. Edith Somerville (1858-1949) and Violet Florence Martin, pen name Martin Ross (1862-1915), who wrote a series of humorous novels and short stories. Most of their books were set in a background of West Cork at the turn of the century and told of the experiences of an Irish Resident Magistrate. Their best know writings were first published in 1928 under the title The Irish R.M. Complete and later Experiences of an Irish R.M. The Irish R.M. and The Real Charlotte were serialised for television in the 1980's. During their life together the cousins resided at Drishane House on the outskirts of Castletownshend village. Violet Martin died in 1915 from the effects of a riding accident some years earlier. Edith Somerville continued to live at Drishane between her travels abroad until her death in 1949 at an advanced age. Somerville and Ross are buried in the graveyard at the rear of St. Barrahane's Church, marked by two simple headstones. In the church is the organ Dr. Somerville played for many decades.

PLACES OF INTEREST

  • Castletownshend Harbour
  • Village Church
  • Somerville and Ross Graves
  • Toe Head

Glandore Stone Circle

This lovely recumbent stone circle is locally known as the Druid's Altar and is located on the edge of a rocky terrace with fine views to the Atlantic Ocean .

Drombeg stone circle also known as The Druid's Altar, is a Recumbent stone circle located 2.4km east of Glandore, County Cork, Ireland. Latitude: 51.564553N Longitude: 9.08702W), Drombeg is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland. The area of the circle has been covered in gravel to protect it from the volume of visitors.

The stone circle consists of seventeen closely spaced stones spanning 9m in diameter, of which 13 survive. The most westerly stone (1.9m high) is the long recumbent and has two egg shaped cup-marks, one with a ring around it. A Cork-Kerry type stone circle, it is flanked by a pair of 1.8m high axial portal stones, which provide a south-west axis, and orientate the monument in the direction of the setting sun during the midwinter solstice. The stones in the circle have been shaped to slope upwards to the recumbent stone, the midpoint of which was set in line with the winter solstice sunset viewed in a conspicuous notch in the distant hills. While the alignment is good, it is not precise.

The ruins of two round stone walled conjoined prehistoric huts and a fulacht fiadh lie just 40m west of the monument. Evidence suggests the fulacht fiadh was in use up until the 5th century AD. The larger of the huts had a timber roof supported by a timber post. The smaller hut had a cooking oven on its east side. A causeway leads from the huts to the cooking place (fulacht fiadh) featuring a hearth, well and trough in which water was boiled by adding hot stones.

Schull Planetarium West Cork

This is the only planetarium in West Cork. With an eight-metre dome it can display the night sky and any configuration of stars, which could have been seen from the northern hemisphere in recorded history. Its opening hours vary, July and August have the most extensive hours and there are daily demonstrations and simulations. There are also public shows and special events are advertised. It's possible to book privately also. Shows are on 8pm onwards.

Garnish Island Italian Gardens at Glengariff

Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengariff in Bantry Bay West Cork, in Southwest Ireland, Garnish is a small island known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty.

The island is open to visitors each day from 1st March to 31st October.  During the winter months, from November to February, it is closed to visitors except by special arrangement. Garnish is reached from Glengarriff by ferry.

Garnish is renowned for its richness of plant form and colour, changing continuously with the seasons. The vivid colours of Rhododendrons and Azaleas are at their best during May and June, whilst the hundreds of cultivars of climbing plants, herbaceous perennials and shrubs dominate from June to August. Autumn colour, particularly on the magnificent heather bank, is rich during the months of September and October.

Because of its sheltered situation and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream the climate is almost subtropical, and  favourable to the growth of ornamental plants from many parts of the world. Winters are mild, and frosts are light and of short duration.

Even for those who are not particularly interested in gardens, Garnish is an attractive place to visit. There are many attractive views of the scenery of the surrounding district from the island. Garnish and its surrounding waters are quite rich in wildlife, the seals which frequent the rocks on the southern shore being of particular interest to many visitors.

There is also a walkway to a martello tower. Ferries leave from the seafront in the village of Glengarriff .

Clonakilty Model Railway Village

Take a trip to the Model Railway Village for a fun and memorable day out on your visit to Clonakilty and West Cork.

Walking into the model village you step back in time and see life as it was in the 1940's. See the old West Cork railway line portrayed in delightful miniature serving the towns of Skibbereen & Baltimore,amongst others. The models are handmade at the model village to a scale of 1:24.

Depicting busy market days, this is a joyful discovery for young and old alike. Relax in the tea room, set on one of the authentic train carriages with a view of Clonakilty bay.

Old Head Lighthouse

is one of the major lights on the south coast and also serves as a guide to the entrance of Kinsale Harbour.

The first official Lighthouse was one of six erected around the coast by Sir Robert Reading under letters patent granted him by King Charles II, l3tb November, 1665. The cottage type lighthouse had an open coal fire in a brazier on its roof.

During 1804 the Revenue Commissioners instructed that a temporary 6 ft diameter lantern he constructed with 12 oil lamps and reflectors to replace the original coal fire. Then, in July 1812, this temporary lighthouse was replaced by a more permanent building with suitable light apparatus. The design chosen was similar to that of the new lighthouse then being built at Baily, Howth Head - a 42 ft (12.8m) high tower with a concentric keeper’s dwclling around its base. The fixed white light was established on 16th May, 1814, at a height of 294 ft (89.6m) above high water and was made up of 27 Argand oil lamps, each with its own parabolic reflector. In clear weather it could be seen 23 miles away. The outer wall was whitewashed, making the station more conspicuous during the daytime.

Following a general lighthouse and lightvessel inspection in July 1843 it was decided that Old Head, with Cape Clear, was too high and often obscured by low cloud. A new site was duly chosen, towards the point of the headland, at a lower height. By 1853 the new station was finished at cost of £10,430.37. The fixed white light was established on 1st October, 1853, at a height of 236 ft (72M) above high water. The light source was a multi-concentric wick oil lamp with a range ol 21 miles (33 km) It was visible from Charlesfort, in Kinsale Harbour, seaward to Seven Heads. The 100 ft (30.5M) cut stone tower was plastered and painted whitc with red bands (this was changed in 1930 to black with two white bands). When the present light was estabrished, the 1814 light was discontinued and reduced in height. The stones were used for constructing the Horse Rock Beacon in Courtmacsherry Bay.

Towards the end of 1890 it was recommended that a fog signal for Old Head should he installed. It was suggest that electricity be introduced, along with a ten wick oil burner and, despite the large expenditure, the burner was in operation by September 1892. Three cannons were installed and established as a log signal in 1st February 1893. A third keeper was appointed and two succesive. reports were fired every 10 minutes.

Following an enquiiy from the Mercantile Marine Service Association in Liverpool in January 1903 the Light was changed to double flashing, incandescent vapourised paraffin and substitute cotton powder for the fog, alterring the fog signal to two successivc reports every 6 minute The new light and fog signal were established on 17th December 1907.

On 1st June 1934 the character of the explosive fog signal was changed to 1 report every 5 minutes. Then in 1972 all explosive log signals around the coast were discontinued and Old Head acquired the siren fog signal from the discontinued Poer Head fog signal station, of 3 blasts every 45 seconds. The siren was replaced in December 1985 by an electric horn with the same character and controlled by a videography fog detector The optic was converted from vapourised paraffin to electric on 25th April 1972, with a standbyn generating set in case of mains electricity failure.

When the Daunt lightship was withdrawn, the radio beacon navigational aid was transferred to Ballycotton and Old Head on 28th August 1974. Sadly on 1st April 1987, the light was made automatic and the keepers were withdrawn.


Bantry House and Gardens

Bantry House contains furniture, paintings and other objects d'art collected in the 19th century. The gardens are laid out over seven terraces, the last four linked by a monumental flight of steps atop 100 stairs (the "Stairway to the Sky) - the only one in Ireland.

Ring of Beara, West Cork & Kerry

The Beara Peninsula offers some spectacular scenery and wonderful walks.  The peninsula is  remote with bleak moorland and sparsely populated fishing villages. The main traditional tourist attractions on the peninsula are the ruins of Dunboy Castle, Puxley Mansion, The Copper Mines Museum in Allihies,  Garnish Island in Glengariff, Dereen Gardens, (privately owned but open to the public).

Many people come just to enjoy the wild and untamed nature of the place and the magical coastline.

The "Ring of Beara" is a tourist trail for cars which follows the roads for about 195 kilometres circumnavigating the peninsula. It starts in Kenmare Co Kerry, crossing the Healy Pass through Adrigole, passing the fishing port of Castletownbere, Allihies, and turns off to Dursey Island, Eyeries and Ardgroom, ending in Glengariff West Cork. The area has had a long connection with the sea; Castletownbere is one of Ireland's largest fishing ports and has diving, sailing and boating facilities.

Lissard Gardens, Skibbereen, West Cork, Ireland South

At Lissard 200 acres of woodlands, meadows, lakes and waterfalls are being devoted to Irish Nature. This unique approach to garden design concentrates on the ecological development of the garden placing Man as the centre of perception within Nature. The design includes quiet walks and areas of contemplation as well as Art work by James Turrell, in the form of the Irish Sky Garden. Follow the suggested routes experiencing the beauty, wonder and tranquility of these gardens. The garden will reach maturity in 30 to 50 years time.

The magnificent gardens and woodlands at Liss Ard add to the uniqueness of the estate. Throughout, there are specially designed pathways and walkways that accentuate the guest's appreciation of Irish flora.

In addition to the main Lake Abisdealy, there are a number of ponds and a waterfall dotted around the estate, that create a feeling that can only be compared to that in the Garden of Eden.
 
The Crater was created for the Irish skies to be appreciated by the spectators lying on the stone structures at the bottom - the dome-effect that is created in the elliptical frame is truly an unforgettable experience.

Bantry House and Gardens

Bantry House contains furniture, paintings and other objects d'art collected in the 19th century. The gardens are laid out over seven terraces, the last four linked by a monumental flight of steps atop 100 stairs (the "Stairway to the Sky) - the only one in Ireland.

Bantry House (originally called 'Blackrock') was constructed in about 1700 on the South side of Bantry Bay. In 1750, Councillor Richard White bought Blackrock from Samuel Hutchinson and changed the name to Seafield. The Whites had settled on Whiddy Island across the Bay in the late 17th century, after having originally been merchants in Limerick. The family prospered and considerable purchases of land were made in the area surrounding the house. By the 1780s, Bantry House comprised some 80,000 acres (320 km²) (though much of this would not be arable). The house has been open to tourism since 1946. Since about 1990 it has offered bed and breakfast accommodation.


Gardens

The gardens to Bantry House were developed by the second Earl of Bantry and his wife Mary. Inspiration was taken from their travels across Europe. The gardens contain seven terraces; the house is located on the third. One hundred steps are located behind the house and are built to appear to rise out of a fountain and are surrounded by azaleas and rhododendron. The gardens are constantly tended and maintained.

By 1997 the grounds of Bantry House were suffering from neglect in certain places. A European grant was obtained to start the restoration process.

Armada Centre

In 1796, Theobald Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen attempted to land a formidable French armada, commanded by Admiral Hoche, in Bantry Bay. It was intended to expel the British and establish an Irish Republic. The armada consisted of 50 naval warships and 15,000 men. Richard White, having heard about the invasion had trained a militia to oppose the landing as he and his tenants were loyal to the British crown. Munitions were stored in Bantry House for safe keeping. Look outs were posted on Both Mizen Head and Sheep's Head to send warning of an invasion. In the end the French armada never had a chance of landing. The weather was too severe, and even ship to ship communication was too difficult. 10 ships were lost. One of these the 'Surveillante' remained on the bottom of Bantry Bay for almost 200 years.

The ship was discovered in 1982. In 1985 it was declared a national monument and work began on the excavation, preservation and exhibition of the ship and its contents.[2] The Armada Centre showcased the story of the attempted French landing in West Cork and contained excavated from the wreck in Bantry Bay as well as a 1 to 6 scale model of 'The Surveillante'. The centre also tells the story of Theobald Wolfe Tone, with extracts from his log and a life-size statue. Visitors could also enjoy the individual sound tour of the Armada Centre.

Old Gas Works, Upper Bridge Street, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, Ireland

Telephone: (353) 28 40900    E-mail:  info@skibbheritage.com

The Heritage Centre is located in the award winning, beautifully restored Old Gasworks Building, in Skibbereen, one of West Cork’s most  picturesque towns. 


The Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition

This exhibition commemorates the tragic period in the 1840s that is known in Irish History as the Great Hunger. Skibbereen, along with many areas of the west, was very badly affected losing up to a third of its population to hunger, disease and emigration.


The Lough Hyne Visitor Centre

The Lough Hyne Visitor Centre explores the unique nature of this salt- water marine lake, Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve.

Other features include an archaeology trail of the Skibbereen area, displays on the Old Gasworks Building and information on the species living on the River Ilen. 

Genealogy services

Also visit our online, fully searchable databases, which include a Graveyard Survey, Loan Fund Records , Tithe Applotment Books, Estate Records 
and a Townlands Database. 

Groups and School Tours

welcomed with guided talk and special rates!

At the end of the Mizen Peninsula, the cliffs of Mizen Head rise high above the Atlantic Ocean, where the currents meet from the west and south coasts and waves from the mid-Atlantic crash into the land.

Key Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way

Dare to cross the iconic Bridge high above the gorge; watch for seals and their pups in the swell below. Experience the solitude of the keepers’ lives and the elemental power of the restless Atlantic where the ocean currents swirl.

Laugh with exhilaration into the fresh salt-laden sea air. Be inspired by the majesty (pull) of the endless seascape and the breath-taking views.

Scan the ocean for whales and dolphins.  In wind, rain and gale as well as hot summer sun, the Mizen is exciting. In fog and mist, it is mysterious – a journey of discovery for the senses. Interpretation and displays demonstrate many different topics, completing your experience.  Come and find your Mizen! In all weathers, the Mizen is spellbinding. Expect an exhilarating and  satisfying visit. 

Mizen Head Signal Station Visitor Attraction

Above : the dynamic visitor centre by the large car park. Navigational Aids Simulator, Fastnet Hall, the Geology of the Mizen, the Fastnet Rescue Tide Clock, Tidal Mural, Historical Tour of the Mizen Peninsula, SS IradaPropellor and much more.Washrooms are there for your comfort.

Mizen Cafe with good homefood, snacks, drinks and icecream for lunch and tea. Open all day.

Gift Shop: A quaint shop filled with a great selection of maritime gifts, model boats, books, and toys for all ages, postcards, cards and maps. A good place to browse.

On the Way : a ten minute walk to the Signal Station down the famous 99 steps, and over the Arched Bridge amid stunning scenery with the possibility of seeing seals, kittiwakes, gannets and choughs. One of the best places in the world to see Minke, Fin and Humpback Whales and Dolphins. The Mizen is an ever-changing experience.

Below : Keepers’ Quarters in the former Irish Lights Signal Station; the Engine Room with Marconi Radio Room and The Workman’s Quarters with the Mizen Map Collection, Birds, Whales and Dolphins, Wrecks and CIL Boats displays and much

Visit Mizen Café and the Gift Shop free of charge. There is a charge to continue through the Display Halls, down the Paths across the Bridge to the Signal Station and the Lights at the most South-westerly Point of Ireland.

A full visit will take 1 hour to 2 hours.

Find the Mizen Signal Station en-route along the Wild Atlantic Way Drive, as it is marked as a  Signature Key Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way.

In addition to visiting the spectacular Mizen Head and the Mizen Head Visitor centre, there are many other areas of interest, activities and things to in West Cork

Whether it's a contemporary wedding, blessings or a civil ceremony, you can relax in the knowledge that your wedding will run smoothly.

Alex Rey - Cork

Thank you all so much for a wonderful stay! It couldn't have been more fantastic. The rooms, food and accommodations were lovely. We are planning our O'Driscoll family stay for next year with you!

Paul o’Driscoll - Mayo, Ireland

Stayed a night, it was so good we stayed another. The place is fantastic, cosy, warm. And the staff are great, welcoming and helpful. Food is some of the best food we have tasted on our trip so far. 

Paul C -

Walking home after our meal and sampling the home brew from the on-site West Cork Brewery was just what we needed as we were comfortably stuffed with the large, delicious portions of the freshest seafood around, not to mention the home brew..

Mary B -

Crab and prawn starter was very tasty and four of us had tempura of prawn starter as a main course. This was generous in size and really well cooked. 

Mark W -

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