West Cork wonders
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.
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.
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-