It’s no wonder that West Cork is called ‘A Place Apart’. Nature sets the pace in this beautiful southwest corner of Ireland – stretching from Kinsale to three rugged westerly peninsulas reaching into the wild Atlantic.
You’ll find more open spaces, scenery and tranquillity than it is possible to take in during one visit. Many people return year after year to re-experience the peaceful rhythm of the fishing and farming community, where the seasons are paramount and people do notice how fast the grass is growing!
Hundreds of inlets, tiny coves, safe harbours and 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.
There’s something restorative about the temperate climate and sub-tropical gardens, the tranquil lanes thick with fuchsia and montbretia, 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’ – was brought up. He died at Béal na mBláth near Enniskeane.
The best way to take in all that West Cork has to offer, its scenery, wildlife and history, is to walk it. Whether you’re on for a quick amble or a long day’s hiking, we have the route for you. Choose from short looped walks, multi-day national waymarked trails or strolls through national parks and forests. West Cork’s Beara Way and Sheep’s Head Way are National Long Distance waymarked trails, which meander along our stunning coastline with views out over the ocean and through the lesser-visited midland where vast views of rolling hills and a patchwork of tidy fields greet the eye.
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.
Travelling to Ireland couldn’t be easier with a wide range of ferry and airline connections. To experience all that West Cork has to offer in your own time it is advisable to hire a car, if flying or coming by rail, or to bring your own if arriving by ferry from Britain or France. The N71 from Cork City will bring you deep into the heart of West Cork.
With three airports in the south of Ireland, West Cork can be easily reached from almost anywhere in the world. From each airport you can easily hire a car and drive to West Cork using the national road network.
From Cork Airport
Serving much of the UK and Europe, Cork Airport is a modern comfortable airport, which is only 8km west of the city centre – you’re already on the right side of the city to access West Cork! When leaving Cork Airport take the third exit on the roundabout (R600) and head to Kinsale or branch off to the N71 (signposted) to reach Innishannon, which is the gateway to West Cork.
From Kerry Airport
Kerry Airport is a regional airport located between the towns of Killarney and Tralee in County Kerry. It has excellent road connections and is only 1.5 hours from Bandon in West Cork. Follow the N22 through Killarney and then take the R585 (signposted for Bandon). At every junction on your journey the correct road will be signposted for Bandon so there’s no chance of getting lost!
From Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport is situated in County Clare, between Ennis and Limerick City. You can travel to Cork on the N20 in approx two hours. Once you have reached the outskirts of Cork city, follow the signposts for the N71 or West Cork.
You can sail from Britain or France to Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal at the Port of Cork. Once you have disembarked, head for the Jack Lynch Tunnel, which will lead onto the South Link Ring Road. Follow the signposts to the N71/West Cork.
Iarnród Éireann provides the national rail service in Ireland. When arriving at Kent Train Station in Cork you are only a five minute walk from Cork Bus Station, where you can travel on by bus to West Cork. See www.irishrail.ie for train times.
Bus Éireann (Irish Bus) provides a bus service throughout Ireland, including West Cork. See www.buseireann.ie for timetables.