Dursey Island, County Cork

If you want to get away from it all, a quirky journey to Dursey Island is definitely the place to head…

Idyllic island

Lying beyond a tumultuous sound at the tip of the Beara Peninsula, you’ll find Dursey Island. The most westerly of Cork’s inhabited islands, Dursey is dotted with historic husks: the ruins of a church said to have been founded by monks from Skellig Michael, a Napoleonic-era old signal tower, a castle built by O’Sullivan Beara. To get there, the Dursey Island Cable Car is your means of transport…

Cable cart tales

Ah yes, the cable car... Strange as it seems, this hardworking contraption is the only one of its kind in Ireland. Hop on board the steel capsule at Ballaghboy, feel the click of the wooden door as it closes, sit back as you’re hauled 250m across the Atlantic Ocean (look out for dolphins in the blue below).

Dursey Island’s cable car spares islanders the hazardous journey across the sound, and practicality oozes from its every pore. It carries tourists, islanders and supplies, dogs and sheep. Wisps of hay stick out of the seat. It’s like a Coney Island fairground ride ending at a fantasy Irish landscape – though if time or inclination are limited, there are stunning views from the Beara Peninsula too. Either way, it will be etched in your memory forever.

Walking into the wilderness

Visitors can trace a 9km looped walk, taking in Atlantic vistas, ragged cliffs and ancient patchworks of ditches and dry-stone walls. Stark, desolate and small (6.5km long and 1.5km wide), you won’t find honking horns or bustling commuters here. Dursey’s soundtrack is composed of waves and wind and the call of teeming seabirds; its residents a handful of islanders scattered across the barren landscape. It’s a complete and utter escape. The only deadlines belong to the cable car returning you to the mainland with the gentle sting of salt on your lips.

Geographical coordinates:Latitude 51.6000; longitude 10.2000 (note, if you use your car’s GPS to go directly to this point, you may not always remain on the Wild Atlantic Way route.)

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