West Cork sets itself apart in the beautiful South West corner of Ireland – stretching from Kinsale near Cork City to the three rugged Westerly peninsulas on the Wild Atlantic Way: Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and the Beara Peninsula and inland to the Lee Valley.
The coastline has hundreds of tiny inlets and coves, dotted with sandy beaches and safe harbours. This is the area for whale-watching, kayaking, sailing, diving, island hopping, bird watching, swimming or enjoying culinary delights in many towns and villages on this spectacular coastline.
The landscape is constantly changing around every bend in the road, from the crashing Atlantic Ocean on the Beara, Sheeps Head and Mizen Peninsulas to the quiet of our unpolluted lakes and peaceful river valleys. There are hundreds of miles of roads to travel, lots of islands to explore, gardens well worth visiting, and lots of people to talk to on your way. This is an area of strong traditions, ancient culture and many relics from our past with standing stones, stone circles and castles.
West Cork has a wonderful food culture thanks to a milder climate and its gentle generous nature. Its award-winning artisan food producers and chefs are known for their culinary revolution and you can enjoy this great food in many pubs, restaurants, farmers markets and food festivals.
What to do and what to see
Bantry area / Sheep's Head
Bantry is just 17 miles away on the Wild Atlantic Way, and hosts wonderful summer schools, a well known literary festival with a great line-up of poets and writers, an international chamber music festival and a traditional Irish music school every summer with all events bookable on line.
Drop into Val Manning at Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey for a huge selection of great West Cork cheeses and artisan products or a cup of excellent coffee and an informative food chat on your way to walk part of the award-winning ‘Sheeps Head Way’. Have a slice of homemade cake in the little traditional café en route to the lighthouse at the ‘edge of the world.’
Fridays in Bantry Square, with the farmers market in full swing, stroll around and meet the cheesemakers, from Gubbeen to Milleens, see stands with olives, feta and homemade soaps, bric-a-brac, organic vegetables and meat, fresh fish, crepes from a van, and enjoy meeting the makers and the bakers of some of our most amazing local produce, we are so lucky to live here.
Wander from the market to Bantry House and Gardens, home to the Shelswell-White family for generations, overlooking Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island.
On the food trail, make a little detour by Toons Bridge Dairy to have a chat with Toby, where is made the only Irish Mozzarella and everything from olives to Serrano Ham is discussed and can be bought here.
Irish culture and heritage
Visit Drombeg Stone Circle, Kealkill Stone Circle, Carriganass Castle at Kealkill, Timoleague Abbey, Kinneigh Round Tower and hundreds of relics from our ancient Celtic past, West Cork is full of archaeology.
Ballyvourney is also in the Gaeltacht and has a wonderful intimate theatre/concert space called ‘An Ionad Culturtha’ It hosts a variety of concerts and cultural events and is a very enjoyable night, just a 25 minute drive from us.
Experience our more recent history of Rebel Cork, visit the monuments of our past at Kilmicheal, Béal na Bláth and Crossbarry, the Micheal Collins centre in Clonakilty and the Independence Museum in Kilmurry, all within an hour from Gougane; ask Neil, he is big into history.
If gardening is your passion, follow the West Cork Garden Trail, with artistic sculpture gardens and impressive colonial gardens to choose from, all amazing and possible in a day trip (Bantry House & Gardens, Garnish Island, etc.)
Walk the suspension bridge onto The Mizen Lighthouse (Ireland’s Most South Westerly point) walk the beach at Barleycove and chat about the day in O’Sullivan’s bar in Crookhaven over a pint of stout or a bowl of chowder.
Golf your way around West Cork starting in Bantry Bay Golf Club, with spectacular views, The Old Head of Kinsale and Maureen O’Hara’s Glengarriff Golf Club.
Take a short ferry trip, (keep an eye out for the tiger seals) to Ilnacullin / Garnish Island in Glengarriff to enjoy its sub-tropical Italian gardens and walks. Continue on the Beara Peninsula through the colourful villages of Adrigole and Eyeries, maybe a trip on the cable car to Dursey Island (keep an eye out for the whales) which is a renowned whale watching haven. There is Bere Island and Cape Clear to be explored too…the days just aren’t long enough!
We can organise for you to go kayaking with Jim at Atlantic Sea- kayaking in Union Hall and experience the open water by day or by night, he is a legend and loves what he does
Dive ancient shipwrecks from Baltimore with Aquaventures or learn diving and snorkeling in these beautiful clear coastal waters.
Drive one of the many loops we can help you create, depending on your interests, to bring in all the scenery, villages and towns in West Cork including Kinsale, Rosscarbery, Clonakilty, Ballydehob, Schull, Goleen, Bantry, Dunmanway, Cactletownbere, Glengarriff, the Borlin Valley etc…The possibilities are endless and waiting to be explored.