Archive for the ‘West Cork’ Category

Tourist Information Office Opens on board

Friday, November 19th, 2010 by Paul
Ian Dempsey, Jean O'Sullivan and Robert Walsh

Ian Dempsey, Jean O'Sullivan and Robert Walsh

Fastnet Line continues to be one of the most progressive ferry companies on the Irish sea. On Monday, its owners the West Cork tourism Co-Op will open their Tourist Information Office on board the MV Julia. The large space located on deck five is dedicated to giving passengers as much information as possible about the destinations on both sides of the Irish sea.

The shareholders who have invested €3m of their own money to purchase the ferry and establish Fastnet Line will now be able to display information about their businesses to the tourists travelling on board in what is believed to be a unique venture on any ferry to southern Ireland. Only businesses which have invested to become members of the Co-Op are allowed to display on board the ship.

Shareholders also benefit from joint marketing opportunities with Fastnet Line which should enhance their opportunities to gain additional tourist traffic. The tourist information office consists of large scale grpahic representations of Wales and Ireland as well as a central information desk and leaflet display racks. the office will be manned by trained staff in high season who will be able to give detailed information about the two destinations as well as advice regarding shareholders offerings.

West Cork Tourism Co-Op membership is still open to businesses in Ireland and Wales.

Great Summer

Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Paul

I am unfortunately old enough to remember the summer of 1976 very well. The scenes of dry reservoirs with cracked mud bottoms reminiscent of Africa and the mounting hysteria caused by water shortages especially in Britain made it such an unusual time. We in Ireland had our water shortages too but hosepipe bans were unheard of in rural Ireland in the seventies which made what was going on in England all the more exotic.

I’ve been thinking about 1976 and all that because of our excellent summer in Cork this year. We seem to have had sun since late May broken by very few periods of rain and none of them prolonged. Quite a change from last year’s July and August which had day after day of relentless rain showers barely five minutes apart it seemed.

Good weather makes such a difference to ones outlook on a day and makes it more bearable to get on with the mundane everyday tasks knowing that a nice weekend awaits you or a sunny walk at the end of a stressful day. Suddenly the area in which you live takes on a slightly different aspect and one looks at it in a different light, literally in some senses. This summer has been made up of picnics, walks in the woods, days on the beach, barbecues and lots of outdoor time.

I have been to Wales a number of times this summer and never tire of the fabulous scenery on the Gower peninsula although I haven’t had much of a chance to stop and take it in. Next weekend I will spend in Pembrokeshire sailing with friends and am keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will hold out for just a little bit longer.

Its not much to ask for and it makes all the difference.

Ivor Callely and Dylan Thomas

Friday, August 13th, 2010 by Paul

Recent news stories in Ireland have been dominated by Senator Ivor Callely’s expenses claims a subject which our UK neighbours know very well given their recent well aired investigation into their politicians’ claims expenses. Chief amongst the most damaging aspect of the uproar was the idea that the Senator had been claiming travelling expenses from his holiday home in West Cork rather than from his family home in Dublin thus hugely increasing the amount of the claim.

The intricacies of the claim while interesting and frustrating in equal measure for the public are not the subject of this post. What struck me reading the coverage of the story in the press here in Ireland was the number of writers who commented that whatever, the morality or ethics of the expenses claim, Ivor certainly knew a great location to purchase a holiday home. Each journalist who went in search of Ivor in Kilcrohane on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula commented on the beauty of the surroundings, no doubt helped by the great summer weather we have been having.

The Sheep’s Head Way is an award winning rural destination with a series of hiking trails and looped walks created by a huge volunteer effort which showcases the natural beauty and unspoilt environment of this magical place. If it gets some recognition nationally and internationally as a result of Ivor’s story then some good wuill have come out of this unsatisfactory situation.

And the connection with Dylan Thomas? Well it seems Ivor has taken to heart that beloved poem I learned in school by the incomparable Welsh bard, “Do not go gentle into that good night”!


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

Dunmanway is a planned town dating from the 17th Century and famous for being the birthplace of Sam Maguire who gave his name to the All-Ireland Football trophy competed for each year by the teams of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. Activities of all sorts can be attempted from here with walking and cycling particularly well catered for. The annual horse fair and races in August each year is an ancient tradition dating back hundreds of years. The little village of Drimoleague just 14 kilometres ( 8 miles) down the road was an important railway junction up until the 1960s and in recent years the old railway yard has become the trailhead for a network of signposted walking trails taking the walker up into the hills surrounding the village and along ancient river paths with enough variety and levels of exertion to suit all abilities.

Castletownbere/Beara Peninsula

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

Castletownbere is the main town on the Beara Peninsula, a working fishing port and focus of commercial activity of this region. It caters well for the traveller in search of sustenance or a place to stay and time spent in this area is rewarded by unforgettable memories. The ancient landscape bears the signs of human settlement from the earliest times and there is something elemental in the interaction of landscape, light, ocean and mountain. Once again the outdoors beckons at every turn, with fishing, hillwalking, cycling and sightseeing being key activities. The old copper mines at Allihies have a  fascinating story to tell dating back thousands of years and the museum there is well worth a visit. The first sight of the village itself from a distance is one never forgotten and on a sunny day the nearby beach is a hive of activity for young and old alike.


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

The town takes its name from the Gaelic An Gleann Garbh (the wild or rugged valley) and the visitor is left in no doubt as to why. This village is centred on a beautiful harbour studded with rock tree covered islands backed by bare rocky hills giving it a magnificent setting even by any standard. Everywhere you look there are scenes just begging to be photographed or just simply contemplated as well as walks and forest paths which yield their natural rewards at every turn of the trail. Garnish Island is worth a visit being just minutes by boat from the harbour but all around are samples of flora and fauna that make this area a naturalists paradise. The visitor is well catered for with a variety of places to stay, to eat and drink which is why Glengarriff has been a firm favourite for generations of visitors.

Bantry/Sheeps Head

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

The town of Bantry lies nestled between high hills at the head of the deep water harbour of Bantry bay. This bustling market town is a perfect location for exploring the rugged countryside in the hills behind the town and the many inlets and coves indenting the coastline. Bantry has been catering for the intrepid tourist since the 19th Century when combined train and boat trips were available to get the traveller from Cork to Glengarriff. The harbour and Whiddy Island dominate to the seaward side overlooked by the famous Bantry House owned by the Shelswell-White family and home to an internationally famous annual Chamber Music Festival each summer (25th June – 3rd July 2010). The town has a great reputation for food with, not surprisingly, seafood dominating. Locally farmed mussels are a particular favourite but there is something to suit all tastes and pockets. The town boasts a particularly fine eighteen hole golf course boasting magnificent views over the bay.

Adjoining one side of the bay is the Sheep’s Head Peninsula another EDEN award winner in 2009 for rural tourism in Europe recognising the incredible walking trails (the Sheep’s Head Way) created on this unspoilt peninsula making the most of its natural advantages with special areas of Protection and Conservation being sympathetically and imaginatively incorporated into a unique tourism attraction. The area abounds in natural beauty and being a narrow peninsula the sea is never far away with spectacular views from the hills in the middle towards the ocean bounding both sides of this unique landscape.


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

The Mizen peninsula is the most southerly part of Ireland and the lighthouse and visitor centre at Mizen Head are a must see when in the area. Along the way you will marvel at the breathtaking beauty of this rugged landscape and perhaps wonder at the strength and resilience of a local population who have survived for generations farming and fishing this difficult terrain and at times, wild seas. The village of Goleen is for many a refreshment stop on the way to Mizen but many visitors bewitched by the landscape choose it as their “get away from it all” piece of heaven.

The rocky coastline and sheer promontories give way to a number of spectacular sandy beaches, most notably at Barley Cove.  The combination of high rocky cliffs and sandy beach backed by high sand dunes make it an unforgettable sight.  The little fishing village of Crookhaven at the end of a little promontory has its own end of the world atmosphere and with the sun shining and the boats bobbing at anchor in this sliver of a bay the noise and hubbub of the outside world seems a very long way away.


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

Leaving Skibbereen as you continue west towards the Mizen peninsula the terrain becomes increasingly rugged and barren with Mount Gabriel and its instantly recognisable radar domes as your landmark. The quirkily named Ballydehob is a village instantly recognisable by its twelve arch railway viaduct a relic of the past but now incorporated into a unique walk at the entrance to the village. As with most villages in West Cork it hosts its own annual festival in August each year has ample accommodation and restaurants and bars for the weary and hungry traveller and an enquiry about the story behind the statue of Danno Mahony, world champion wrestler, which is on the main street will tell you all you need to know about that essential pride of place a mainstay of irish character not yet lost to modernity. Schull another fishing port further west along the road is yet another village which sustains a multitude of activities throughout the year. Sailing of course is a major part of the lifestyle here and the local sailing club has a busy schedule of races and classes year round including the entertainingly named “Calves Week” a derivation from Cowes Week one assumes. In addition there are any number of walks or for those who like to combine several forms of exercise at once you can join the local triathletes for one of the many events they run throughout the year. Recently the ambitious locals have also started a very successful short film festival sure to become a rival to the great film festivals of the world. Such is the enterprise of small villages in this part of Ireland – one might say a “Cannes do” attitude. In addition there is the successful Sunday Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. well worth a visit for good food and crafts made locally, a planetarium and enough breathtaking scenery to make you want to return every year or simply give in as many do and settle here permanently.

Baltimore/The Islands

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

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.