Baltimore/The Islands

Baltimore is a beautifully situated village built around the twin pursuits of fishing and sailing. Overlooked by the 17th Century castle of the O’Driscolls the harbour is a hive of activity year round with fishing trawlers vying for space with pleasure yachts, ocean going cruiser yachts for hire and ferries to the outlying islands of Sherkin, Cape Clear and Heir Island. The village has been a must visit for sailors cruising around the coast of southwest Ireland but also hosts sea anglers, divers and snorkelers, bird watchers, walkers and whale watchers. Throughout the year Baltimore hosts a variety of festivals including the annual Fiddle Fair (traditional folk music based around the violin or “fiddle” 6th - 9th May 2010), the Wooden Boat festival (28th – 30th May 2010), the regatta (1st -2nd August 2010) to name but a few.

As gateway to the islands, Baltimore is where you leave dry land to experience the different sights and sounds of Sherkin Island with its Franciscan Abbey and castle. With a variety of places to stay the population of 100 is bolstered by summer visitors eager for the peace and quiet and slower pace of life which an island brings. Cape Clear is a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) community which has accommodation, a pub and restaurant as well as hosting a storytelling festival on the first weekend of September each year. It is Ireland’s most southerly island and three miles to its west is the Fastnet Lighthouse perched on top of Fastnet Rock an iconic image of Ireland known throughout the world.  The island is a naturalists paradise with birdwatchers being spoiled for choice as well as attracting those who regularly spot leatherback turtle, sun fish, shark, dolphin and whale. Heir (or Hare) Island is the smallest of the three inhabited islands and boasts wonderful sandy beaches and is home to a sailing school for those wishing to be initiated in the ways of the sea in a safe, relaxed and professional manner in idyllic surroundings.

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