West Cork won­ders

RTÉ Guide - - Travel -

Al­though it doesn’t have any bor­der marked on a map, West Cork is usu­ally thought of as the area west of Cork City and down to the coun­try’s south­ern­most point at Mizen Head. Within this sur­pris­ingly large area are the buzzing towns of Kin­sale, Ban­don, Clon­akilty, Sk­ib­bereen, Mac­room and Bantry, and the area’s land­scapes in­clude the Sheeps Head and Beara penin­su­las and a par­tic­u­larly stun­ning bit of the Wild At­lantic Way. Here are five West Cork spots we think are must- sees Mizen Head

The Ir­ish Light Sig­nal Sta­tion was built in 1905 to warn ship­ping of the cliffs that dom­i­nate this part of the coast. It is a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion, with the Sig­nal Sta­tion on an is­land linked to the main­land by a spec­tac­u­lar arched bridge. Staffed un­til 1993, the Sta­tion is now au­to­mated and the for­mer Keep­ers’ Quar­ters houses a tourist cen­tre.

Sk­ib­bereen Farm­ers Mar­ket

Since 2001, the Mar­ket has been a source of all the bril­liant foods we’ve come to as­so­ciate with West Cork, from fruit and veg­eta­bles, to eggs and honey, pre­serves, baked goods, or­ganic meat, cheese and of course, seafood. Tak­ing place ev­ery Satur­day, be­tween 40 and 120 traders as­sem­ble at the cen­tre of this vi­brant town where you will also find plenty of lo­cal art and crafts, as well as an­tiques, books and bric-a-brac.

Sherkin Is­land

At 5km by 3km and with a pop­u­la­tion of just about 100, this beau­ti­ful is­land near Bal­ti­more (a 10-minute ferry trip away) can feel like a dif­fer­ent world. It has two pubs with a ho­tel, a B&B and a com­mu­nity cen­tre and many of the in­hab­i­tants make their liv­ing from the arts and crafts they cre­ate, in­spired by their tran­quil sur­round­ings. Even in win­ter, this is­land in the Gulf Stream is a won­der­ful place to get away from it all.

Clon­akilty

Even in the depths of win­ter, the home of the black pud­ding is a busy place. If you can tear your­self way from the cafés and the of­ten mu­sic-filled pubs, then a visit to the Michael Collins Her­itage Cen­tre and Michael Collins House is a must for all fans of ‘The Big Fella’, Clon­akilty’s most fa­mous son. A new ad­di­tion to the town’s at­trac­tions is Clon­akilty Park Ad­ven­ture Cen­tre. Lo­cated on the grounds of the Clon­akilty Park Ho­tel, this ad­ven­ture cen­tre has a high ropes course, climb­ing walls, a 100m zi­pline and power fan jump.

Cape Clear Is­land

The coun­try’s most southerly is­land. It is a 45-minute boat trip from Bal­ti­more or Schull and is part of the Cork Gaeltacht. The Gulf Stream gives Cape Clear a mild cli­mate and even in win­ter, it at­tracts bird­watch­ers twitch­ing for rare mi­grants or tem­po­rary winged vis­i­tors. The is­land has wild scenery, har­bours, cliffs, bogs and a lake, with wild flow­ers at the right time of the year shel­ter­ing in the lee of its patch­work of stone walls. There are also me­galithic stand­ing stones, a 5,000-year-old pas­sage grave, a 12th-Cen­tury church ruin, the 14th-

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