Southwest Ireland is filled with beautiful landscapes, historic sites and activities for travellers to discover. When exploring West Cork, visitors can stay overnight in luxurious hotels, breathtaking old manor houses, spas, private guest houses or bed and breakfasts. There is a multitude to see and do from spectacular scenery to history and culture going back thousands of years. Here, the pace of life takes its foot of the gas and slows down to a much more relaxing pace. The friendly locals will offer advice, tips and no one is without an opinion on any topic!!
Cork is the largest and most southern of Ireland’s counties and West Cork is sometimes known as Ireland’s 33rd county. West Cork natives are proud of their heritage and enjoy sharing their land with tourists. Cork as a whole may be one of the most popular regions to visit in Ireland, but its often West Cork that truly draws people to its bosom. The landscape is diverse and magnificent. There are mountain ranges, vast woodlands, lush fields, sandy beaches, quaint harbours and rocky cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Its rich history runs all the way from Neolithic men to Norman settlers & merchants to Barons and Bishops to Presidents & Statesmen. The rich land and bountiful seas ensure that West Cork remains popular as a place to live and a place to visit.
The region is pockmarked with pretty villages and thriving market towns and it is one of the joys of the region to cruise through the undulating ever changing country side visiting many of them as you travel.
The coastal town of Clonakilty is nestled between hills and the head of the tidal Clonakilty Bay. The people who live there call the town “Clon” and are proud of its rich heritage, culture and pristine beauty. The surrounding hills are used for dairy farming and the harbour and coastline attract beachgoers and boaters. The coast is dotted with small islands that can be explored.
There is much history to be explored here and there is evidence and ruins left from pre-Celtic times. The Normans built castles whose ruins are revered. The Kilty Stone rests in Asna Square today. Surnames from long ago continue to run in families as a great pride of of the people of Clonakilty while immigration and emigration has ebbed and flowed with the tides. During the 17th and 18th centuries, trade came to Clonakilty creating a merchandising boom. Merchant ships exported and imported goods through West Cork and the rest of Ireland.
The beaches in the area attract families, beach combers, surfers and boaters. Inchdoney Strand which is just a 10 minute drive from town was voted the best beach in Ireland on Tripadvisor in 2015 but other popular options include Long Strand, Red Strand, The Warren and Owenchicha. In recent times the town has garnered a strong food reputation with many local artisan producing mouth watering delights. The Deasy family flourished in Clonakilty during the height of mercantile success. During the 18th century, the family helped build the fish market and the shambles (meat market) and the entire Market Square.
Today, there are many options for many types of food including traditional Irish food. Much of the food served in restaurants is locally grown and the tradition of the Friday Market remains today.
For visitors today, “Clon” also offers a lively music scene and is well known for a wide variety and choice of eclectic pubs. Part of the towns rich musical heritage ties back to Jimi Hendrix. Noel Redding, the original Base player in The Hendrix Experience, moved to Clonakilty in 1972. His festivals created a musical scene that attracted great musicians. The music scene lives on today for local townspeople and visitors.
When travelling in the area, there is no difficulty in finding accommodation. Whether the visitor is interested in a five star hotel with a spa, a private guest house or a B&B, they are sure to find something suitable. There are many hotels in Clonakilty, The Emmet Hotel with its late night bar, Dunmore House, Inchydoney Lodge and Spa, The Quality Hotel and Fernhill House Hotel to name a few. There are many guest houses and bed and breakfasts scattered throughout Clonakility, but it’s always best to book in advance. Some of the better Clonakilty guest houses include Ballard House B&B, Maclaim Lodge, Kilgarriffe B&B, Glendine Irish Home, Duvane House and Melrose B&B.
5 Things To Do In Clonakilty
Visit the Michael Collins Museum
Visit the Model Village (young & old love this)
Take the Clonakilty Train around town
Catch a music session in De Barra’s
Visit The West Cork Secret
The town of Bantry lies at the head of Bantry Bay on West Cork’s southwest coast. It has a fantastic location on Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way” which is the longest defined coastal drive in the world and is a great location from which to explore Ireland’s stunning peninsulas which stretch out into the North Atlantic. The town generally revolves around a central square that was created centuries ago by filling in the shallow inner harbour. This was initially used for cattle fairs but has since been modernized as a popular town plaza.
The history of Bantry like many towns in the area dates back to Neolithic times but one of the more interesting stories is that Noah’s niece (of the ark fame) arrived in Bantry 40 years before the flood and stayed. It was later the site of the French Armada and there many French brigantines still lost in Bantry Bay. Fisheries became the main business in Bantry during the 19th and 20th centuries, its strategic coastal position and deep harbour helped build Bantry’s reputation as a trading centre. Industrial pride is marked by the water wheel located on Bridge Street at the town’s library. Today, it is a cosmopolitan town and a popular place to visit.
The warmth of the locals attracts many tourists, writers, musicians, artists and sculptors. People come to Bantry to enjoy cycling, water sports, exploration of historical and archaeological sites as well as the food, literature and music. The area is diverse with surrounding mountain ranges, mountain streams, lush vegetation, green pastures, palm trees and much more while the sunsets and the views of the inner harbour are remarkable.
The food, art and musical culture of Bantry is rich. Friday Markets are held during the summer months and offer a variety of locally grown food as well as art and music. For those visiting the area, there are many types of accommodation to suit tourists. Bantry Hotels include the Westlodge Hotel and Leisure Centre, The Maritime, Aran Lodge and Doireliath. The town of Bantry has many quaint bed and breakfasts. These include La Mirage B&B, Edencrest B&B, Bantry House B&B and many more.
5 Things To Do In Bantry
Visit Bantry House & Gardens
Take a boat trip to Garnish Island
Explore The Ewe Gardens
Take the cable car to Dursey Island
Visit the Mizen Head Lighthouse
West Cork is a popular place to visit in Ireland, it is filled with history and culture. The southwest coast of West Cork is a beautiful, majestic place to see. Visitors are welcomed and guided by friendly local people. Entertainment and wonderful gastronomy opportunities are located throughout the small coastal towns. Luxury hotels and spas offer many outstanding amenities while smaller hotels and guest houses offer privacy and intimacy. The bed and breakfasts that populate the towns of West Cork are wonderful, homey places to stay while exploring the amazing towns of West Cork.
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