A Guide To The Village Of Clonakilty In Cork: Things To Do, Accommodation, Food + More

Clonakilty In Cork
Photo left: Dimitris Panas. Photo right: TyronRoss (Shutterstock)

If you’re debating staying in Clonakilty In Cork, you’ve landed in the right place.

Clonakilty (known as “Clon” to its friends) is a one of the more picturesque towns in Cork, and it’s referred to by some as Cork’s ‘Music Capital’.

A stone’s throw from many of the best things to do in West Cork, Clonakilty is a great base for an adventure, as you’ll discover below.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Clonakilty In Cork to where to eat, sleep and drink.

A Guide to Clonakilty in Cork: Some Quick Need-to-Knows

 

Although a visit to Clonakilty In Cork is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Clonakilty is located at the head of Clonakilty Bay, 52km southwest of Cork City and 23km form Bandon, the Gateway to West Cork. Straddling along the N71, Clonakilty is within easy reach of many popular attractions including Inchydoney Beach.

2. Famous for

Clonakilty has made a name for itself as a popular destination for tourism in West Cork. In 2017 it was named “Best Town in Europe”. More importantly, Clonakilty is famous for its black pudding, first created to a secret recipe by Twomey’s butcher’s shop on Pearse Street in the 1880s. 

3. A fine place to explore from

Although there a plenty of things to do in Clonakilty itself, the big draw of the town is that it’s a great place to explore from. You can see West Cork by day and nip in and out of the many pubs and restaurants in Clonakilty at night.

A brief history of Clonakilty

Clonakilty village
Photo by Marcela Mul (Shutterstock)

Clonakilty has an ancient history with pre-Celtic sites such as the ring-fort evidencing early settlement. By Norman times the area had a charter to hold a market and Coyltes Castle was recorded in 1378.

The name Cloghnykyltye (meaning castle in the woods) evolved into “Clonakilty”. Burned to the ground during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the area was later part of the Battle of the Big Cross Rebellion (1798).

The borough town rose to prominence in the early 19th century when the booming linen and cotton manufacturing industry employed 1000 workers. In recent years, Clonakilty has become famous for its black pudding. 

Things to do in Clonakilty (and nearby)

One of the beauties of Clonakilty in Cork is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Now, we go into the various things to do in Clonakilty in detail in this guide, but here are some of our favourite places to visit in the area. 

1. Catch a live music session at the famous DeBarras Folk Club

things to do in clonakilty
Photos via DeBarras Folk Club on Facebook

Put on your dancing shoes and head over to the DeBarras Folk Club for a night to remember. Said to be one of the “finest music houses in Ireland”, this traditional pub and restaurant is owned by the third generation of the DeBarra family.

It has a unique collection of musical memorabilia that rivals any Hard Rock Cafe! It is world famous for the Folk Club and association with folk musicians including Christy Moore, Roy Harper and Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience). You never quite know who you’ll be rubbing shoulders with at the bar! 

2. Head for a swim at Inchydoney Beach

 

Clonakilty’s “local” beach is the stunning Inchydoney Beach, which is arguably one of the best beaches in Cork.

You’ll find it on an island peninsula connected by causeways to the mainland. Frequently ranked one of Ireland’s top beaches, Inchydoney has light sand backed by natural dunes and stunning rural scenery.

It’s Blue Flag awarded waters attract swimmers and surfers while the beach is perfect for families. It has a large car park near the Inchydoney Hotel and lifeguards in the summer. There’s also a surf school and equipment rentals.  

3. Spend a rainy morning at the West Cork Model Railway Village

west cork model railway
Photo by MShev (Shutterstock)

The Model Railway Village in Clonakilty is one of the more unique attractions in Cork, and it’s well-worth a visit.

See the West Cork Railway Line with its station towns in miniature and marvel at the detail. The beautifully handcrafted models are made to a scale of 1:24.

The Model Village provides fun for all ages with its 1940s era diorama depicting Clonakilty, Kinsale, Bandon and Dunmanway. Enjoy a cuppa in the restored train carriage café and take a trip aboard the Choo Choo Road Train.  

4. Soak up some history at the Michael Collins Heritage Centre

michael collins centre
Photos via Michael Collins Heritage Centre

Discover the story of Michael Collins at the interpretative Michael Collins Heritage Centre and museum on the outskirts of Clonakilty at Castleview.

Collins went to school in Clonakilty before becoming an Irish revolutionary and politician in the early 20th century. The story of his life, his family and many activities during the War of Independence are told through presentations, artifacts and memorabilia.

Outside, there’s a recreation of the Beál na Blá ambush site where Michael Collins was killed. You can also book a tour from the museum to visit Collins’ birthplace at Woodfield and other sites relating to his life. 

Clonakilty Accommodation

accommodation in clonakilty
Photos via Booking.com

If you’re thinking about staying in Clonakilty In Cork (if you’re not, you should!), you’ve a pick of places to stay.

Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.

Hotels in Clonakilty

As West Cork is a popular tourist destination on the wild Atlantic way, there are plenty of hotels in Clonakilty to suit every kind of traveller.

Right in the centre of town on Wolfe Tone Street, the Clonakilty Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel with parking just a short walk from shops, bars and restaurants.

Bright guest rooms boast tea/coffee makers and free Wi-Fi. Look forward to a full Irish breakfast (you can even order it on room service!).

Another lovely place to stay, Clonakilty Park Hotel has a bistro restaurant, bar, cinema and leisure centre with pool. Alternatively, take your pick from our Guide to the Best Hotels in Clonakilty! 

Check out the hotels in Clon

B&Bs in Clonakilty

If you want a personal welcome and a homely place to stay, Clonakilty has some excellent B&Bs such as the Melrose B&B, Guests have a shared lounge and patio and rooms have lovely garden views.

Closer to Inchydoney Beach, Joan B&B is 3km form Clonakilty town centre. The 24-hour reception offers a warm welcome and guests can enjoy the shared lounge and garden space. Why not browse our full Guide to the Best B&Bs in Clonakilty before booking? 

Check out the B&Bs in Clon

Restaurants in Clonakilty

places to eat in clonakilty
Photos via Scannells Bar on Facebook

If you fancy a post-adventure pint or if you just want a quick meal before hitting the nest after a long day exploring, you’re in luck.

Although we go into places to eat in detail in our guide to the best Clonakilty restaurants, you’ll find some of our favourites below. 

1. Scannells Bar

You’ll love the cosy ambience and live music at Scannells Pub on Connolly Street in Clonakilty. It’s a lovely place to enjoy lunchtime fare either at the bar or in the large beer garden beneath a contemporary sailcloth. The bar was opened by Mrs Scannell in the 1980s but it only really became a Clonakilty institution of note when Kevin and Shane took over. 

2. Oak Fire Pizza

If you’re of the opinion that pizza bases should be hand-stretched thin and crispy, topped with the tastiest ingredients and then cooked to perfection over a real wood fire, the Oak Fire Pizza is your place! Regularly voted the #1 Pizza joint in West Cork since 2010, it offers an informal dining experience (or take-away) along with a great choice of local brews and ciders.

3. Molly’s Wine Bar and Cafe

Part of the historic O’Donovan’s Hotel, Molly’s Wine Bar and Café is tucked along Recorder’s Alley off pearse Street in Clonakilty town centre. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a light meal, a glass of wine, a cappuccino and something sweet in a relaxed atmosphere at any time of day. It serves everything from cocktails and tapas to tasty Irish food with vegetarian options too.  

Clonakilty Pubs

the best pubs in Ireland
Photo via An Teach Beag on Facebook

If you fancy a pint, you’ll find plenty of great pubs in Clonakilty In Cork. Although the likes of DeBarras and Teach Beag tend to steal the show, there are some other great spots.

1. DeBarras Folk Club

DeBarras is a lively bar and eatery with its own Folk Club that has an international reputation. It has been the “local” for many international folk musicians who might even drop by and join the craic while you’re there! As well as being one of the top gig venues in Ireland, the bar has a good selection of beers, wines and brews. It also offers a lunch menu of soup, sandwiches and salads before the main event in the evening when bookings are recommended.

2. An Teach Beag

As it’s name suggests, An Teach Beag is a Little House right next to the historic Donovan’s Hotel. Once a stables, it was converted to a pub in 1994. This whitewashed cottage-pub has the perfect atmosphere for enjoying traditional Irish music on Saturdays and nightly during the summer. As well as pulling a fine pint, the pub hosts authentic scríochts (sessions by storytellers and poets) and has frequently netted the award for Traditional Irish Pub of the Year.

3. Con and Maura’s Bar

Whether you want food and drink or a friendly chat at the bar, Con and Maura’s Bar delivers it all. Enjoy a pint of Guinness or Murphy’s, or perhaps an Irish coffee with your toasted sandwich or snack in front of the blazing fire. This authentic Clonakilty pub is in the heart of the town on McCurtain Hill. It is well known for hosting trad music sessions and sing songs on Thursday nights so bring your tin whistle!

FAQs about visiting Clonakilty in Cork

Since mentioning the town in a guide to Cork that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Clonakilty in Cork.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is Clonakilty worth visiting?

Yes! Clonakilty is a fine, lively little village to stop off in for food, if you’re just passing through. It also makes a great base to explore West Cork from.

Are there many things to do in Clonakilty?

  • Soak up some history at the Michael Collins Heritage Centre
  • Spend a rainy morning at the West Cork Model Railway Village
  • Head for a swim at Inchydoney Beach
  • Catch a live music session at the famous DeBarras Folk Club

What are the best places to stay in Clonakilty?

Although it’s very hard to go wrong with either the Clonakilty Hotel or the Clonakilty Park Hotel, there are also plenty of great guesthouses in the area (see link above).

Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.

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