Sherkin Island

Sherkin’s location scores well on several fronts. It’s got all the seclusion of an island hideaway, yet lies just 10 minutes from Baltimore by ferry. It attracts a milder climate (when frost hits the lawns of Baltimore, you can find green grass out here), yet boasts stunning Atlantic scenery.

Little surprise, then, that so many non-islanders have made Sherkin their home. The summer months, in particular, see crowds from far and wide flocking to the island – with the result that the ancestral hub of the O’Driscoll clan (their ivy-clad castle lies just above the pier) is today a melting pot of culture, life and art. Sherkin even offers a Visual Arts Degree Programme, and work by the island’s many artists and designers is sold at the Island Crafts Centre in Baltimore.

Certainly, artists have much to inspire them – from the islands dotting Roaringwater Bay to the ruins of Sherkin’s 15th century Franciscan Abbey; from passing porpoises to playful otters, rare birds and spectacular beaches and coves, the island is almost a work of art in itself.

Visitors will find a warm and hospitable welcome year-round, but it is in July and August that Sherkin really comes into its own. Traditional music and the riotous colour of an annual regatta – a big splash in the island’s social calendar – are highlights of a time when walkers, swimmers, sailors and island-hoppers join the swelling ranks of islanders themselves, and everyone soaks up the atmosphere.

Location: Roaringwater Bay. The ferry port of Baltimore is roughly 42km (50mins) by road from Bantry, and 98km (1hr 45mins) from Cork.

Size: 4.8km x 2.4km. Sherkin can be visited in a day, but you won’t be disappointed with an overnight stay – many visitors have even made their homes here!

Population: 100+

Facilities: Hotel, B&Bs, self-catering, restaurant, art gallery, coffee /craft shop, pubs, community centre, marina, library.

Top 3 Activities: Arts, adventure, sailing

Getting there: Ferries sail daily from Baltimore, year-round. Sailings take 10 minutes.

Getting around: Sherkin richly rewards walkers; taxis (summer) and buses (year-round) are also to hand.