Day 9 (Cork) – Exploring glorious West Cork
West Cork is hands-down one of my favourite places on earth, never mind Ireland.
The wild, remote, ever-changing landscapes, the isolation and the people make it an absolute gem of a place to spend a day or 5.
1 – Spinning through Glandore, Union Hall and Skibbereen en route to Baltimore
// Clonakilty to Baltimore – 45-minute drive (take your time and arrive to Union Hall for Baltimore for 10:00) //
We’re going to take a little bit of time to spin around the gorgeous villages and towns of Glandore, Union Hall and Skibbereen.Cape Clear Island
We’ve no specific stops or places to visit in either town, but you can’t drive through this neck of the woods and not take some time to ramble around.
Give yourself an hour and stop-off anywhere that tickles your fancy.
I’m a huge fan of Skibbereen.
Often referred to as ‘the Capital of West Cork’, it’s a gorgeous, lively little town that’s a great base for exploring some of the best that West Cork has to offer.
Hop out for a ramble. Your first handful of many gorgeous little towns that we’ll be visiting on this Ireland road trip.
2 – Cape clear island and Fastnet Rock
// Ferry times will vary (check them out here) – we’re going to assume that you’ve followed the guide and gone for the 11:00 sailing //
Our second stop of the day is going to be the base for a lot of the days activities.
We’re going to board a ferry to Cape Clear Island and head off exploring.
Cape Clear is the southernmost inhabited part of the island of Ireland and has a population of over 100 people.
The ferry takes 45-minutes to get to the island, so just kick back, relax, and gaze out at the beautiful waters of Roaring Water Bay.
When you reach the island, a shuttle bus service leaves from the North Harbour, taking visitors to Cape Clear Heritage Centre for the Fastnet multimedia exhibition.
When you’ve finished up at the exhibition, make your way back down to the ferry.
The final lap of the trip takes you around Fastnet Lighthouse, often referred to as ‘the Teardrop of Ireland’, as it was the last sight of Ireland for emigrants sailing to America.
Here’s a fantastic look at the lighthouse from every angle, thanks to Tom Vaughan.
3 – Lunch at Mizen Head
// Baltimore to Mizen Head – 1-hour drive (arrive for 15:00) //
It’s been a long morning and afternoon, so fuel up with a hearty lunch at the cafe at Mizen Head.
If you haven’t packed any snacks or water, grab some here and pop them in your bag.
4 – Embracing the power of nature at Mizen Head
// Aim to start exploring Mizen by 16:00 //
I visited here during the summer of 2018, and it really is an experience and a half.
The Mizen Head Signal Station was built to save lives off the treacherous rocks at Ireland’s most south-westerly point.
Kick your visit off by spending a bit of time wandering around the the Maritime Museum.
From here, take a stroll down towards the Signal Station – it’s a 15 minute walk along a gravelly path, down 99 steps (these were closed on the day that I visited) and across the beautiful arched bridge.
Take your time walking around and admiring the views that lay as far as the eye can see.
5 – Bantry for the night
// Mized Head to Bantry – 45-minute drive (aim to arrive for 18:30) //
That was a long day – still with me? Let me know in the comments below.
On night number 9 of our Ireland road trip, I’m going to recommend that you stay at the Bantry Bay Hotel.
When you’re ready to eat, take the 2-minute stroll to Fish Kitchen for a hearty feed.
We’re going to round the evening off with a few pints in Ma Murphy’s pub right across the road from Fish Kitchen.
Monday 13th of March 2023
Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you
Thursday 9th of March 2023
the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.
Monday 6th of March 2023
Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?
Saturday 18th of February 2023
Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.
Keep up the good work.