Welcome to Cork’s Bull Rock: Home To ‘the Gateway to the Underworld’

Like something from Pirates of the Carribean

Bull Rock Dursey Island
Photo taken by Deirdre Fitzgerald

There’s a little island (Bull Rock) off the coast of Cork that looks like a set from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie…

To be completely honest: I’d never heard about Bull Rock up until last year. I was sat in a cafe in a little town called Castletown-Bearhaven on the Beara Peninsula in Cork. 

It was the tail-end of summer… and it was lashing down outside. The original plan for the day was to join an organised walking tour, but the guide rang that morning to say that it was cancelled.

When the chap in the cafe dropped down my coffee, we got to chatting about the area and what there was to do that was a little off the beaten path.

That’s when he mentioned what he described as ‘the most unusual of the many things to do in Cork‘. He was, of course, talking about Bull Rock.

Welcome to Bull Rock

Bull rock from the Dursey Boat
Photo by Dursey Boar Trips

The chances are you’ll have heard of Cork’s Dursey Island (yep, it’s the one that’s accessible via a cable car).

Dursey is situated at the southwestern tip of the beautiful Beara Peninsula in the even more beautiful region of West Cork.

Off the western point of Dursey lies three rocks:

  • Bull Rock
  • Cow Rock
  • Calf Rock

One of which looks like a set whipped straight from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Bull Rock and ‘the Entrance to the Underworld’

Bull Rock from the side
Photo by Dursey Boar Trips

I’ve done a fair whack of travelling around Ireland over the past 10 years, but I’ve never seen anything like this place.

From the moment that I first laid eyes on Bull Rock, I thought that it looked like a deserted island that you’d find tucked away somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

The type of place that pirates would have used back in the day to stash their swag.

Some quick need-to-knows about the island

  • The island is roughly 93m high and is 228m by 164m wide
  • It’s steep jagged cliffs make it look smaller than it actually is
  • A lighthouse was constructed here back in 1889
  • There’s a tiny passage that cuts through the rock from one side to the other.
Bull Rock close up
Photo by Dursey Boar Trips

A passageway through the rock

Bull Rock Beara Peninsula
Photo taken by Deirdre Fitzgerald

As you can see from the photos above and below, there’s a narrow passageway that cuts through the island.

You’ll see this referred to as ‘the Entrance to the Underworld’ on social media and on places like Reddit and Tripadvisor.

I’ve done a bit of digging, but I can’t find any more info on the background to the name.

It’s not hard to see where the name came from, though – take a look at it up close and you’ll see why!

The Bull Rock Lighthouse

Bull Rock from the side
Photo by Dursey Boar Trips

The Bull Rock lighthouse was constructed back in 1889 after it was decided that the cast-iron lighthouse on nearby Calf Island needed to be replaced.

Like many lighthouses in Ireland, the one on Bull Rock was automated in 1991.

Imagine living (yes, people lived on the island) and working here?!

Imagine the conditions during the storms and sounds and smells of the Atlantic wafting over you from every angle.

Bull Rock Boat Tours

Fancy visiting Bull Rock? Dursey Boat Tours offer a 1 hour and 30-minute trip around the island.

They announce departures on their Facebook page and you can give them a bell on 083 8989 999 to book in for a trip.

A full boat of six passengers costs €240

Have you taken a spin out to Bull Rock? Was it worth the trip? Let me know in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!


    • Interesting.. Dursey Island is known as the home of the Cailleach, the powerful celtic goddess who features in many tales and is reputed to have written the old Irish poem, the ‘Lament of the Wise Woman of Beara’. The townland on Dursey, Ballynacallagh, is named after her

  1. The calf rock lighthouse was destroyed in storm where all the men on the lighthouse where thought to be dead. That why they constructed the lighthouse on bull rock. The locals had warned them about building the lighthouse on the island. It’s a very interesting story.

    My great great grandfather was maroon on the island in the storm and the story is that they where rescued without anyone knowing so he walked into his house while the wake was going on.

  2. Very interesting indeed. I’m curious to know if the ‘buildings’ below the lighthouse were occupied – maybe the men who worked in the lighthouse? Just wondering ☘️

  3. I’m also interested if this rock was occupied it looks like maybe at 1 time it was & if so do we know whom occupied & also is there an entrance into this Bull Rock that at 1 time looks as if it had been occupied if so where is it located & can the entrance be accessed and person enter into Bull rock ?.

  4. Donn was éber Donn, a Spanish ruler who, along with his brother érimón sailed to ireland to seek revenge for the death of their uncle at the hands of An Tuatha Dé Danann. They angered the goddess Ériu who shipwrecked them. Donn was buried there


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