Kerry to Cork

Time to reflect
Experience Dursey Island, Mizen Head and the Old Head of Kinsale.

Travel from Kerry to Cork, taking in Dursey Island, Mizen Head and the Old Head of Kinsale. This route is approximately 463 km (287 miles). The closest airports if travelling from Canada are Dublin and Shannon. Aer Lingus and Air Canada Rouge fly direct year round from Toronto to Dublin; while Air Transat fly direct seasonally from Toronto and Montreal to Dublin and Shannon; and West Jet fly direct seasonally from Toronto via St. John’s to Dublin.  Find out more about getting to Ireland from Canada.

Away from it all
Dursey Island

It’s a dramatic drive along the north edge of County Cork’s remote Beara Peninsula, with views north and west across the mussel rafts and seal colonies of Kenmare Bay.

The land ends at the Dursey Sound, where you’ll find Ireland’s only cable car sitting high above the sea: the only way to cross to Dursey Island.

A short 10 minute ride will carry you over the waves, and if you like peace and quiet you’ll love Dursey Island, which is free of shops, pubs, and restaurants. In fact it only has 6 or so permanent wintertime residents, including 3 families who live and farm on this tiny island.

There’s a lighthouse, castle ruins, a signal tower, standing stones and the most breath-taking sunsets, locally known as ‘Europe’s last’. But please take note when using the cable car: residents of this small corner of the world have priority over visitors when queuing for the crossing.

The wild side

The Seven Heads Walk starts from Timoleague Village, continues through Courtmacsherry, winds around rugged cliffs and shoreline to Dunworley and carries on through Barryscove and Ardgehane to Aghafore and Barry’s Hall, then back to Timoleague. The walk takes in a broad variety of terrain over its entire distance of 42 km (26 miles) around the peninsula, although there are several shorter routes too.

“Where else would you want to be.”
Green fingers

Learn all about the abundant flora of West Cork, one of the world’s favourite garden spots. Enjoy a few hours with Aroma Botanist Eliane Zimmermann in the gardens of Garinish Island or the old demesnes of Bantry Bay. A ‘must see’ for any garden enthusiast.

Under the hills

Learn about the story of copper mining in Allihies in County Cork during the 19th and 20th centuries. There is a section devoted to the Allihies miners who left Ireland to work in the US mines of Butte, Montana. In fact, many of today’s Butte residents bear the same surnames as Allihies families. Daphne du Maurier based her book ‘Hungry Hill’ on the Puxley family, who owned the Allihies mines in the 19th century, and the story of the real people is no less fascinating.

A treat for your tastebuds

A one-day bread course at Firehouse Bakery and Bread School on Heir Island, County Cork, will have you creating your very own bag of delicious breads in no time. You’ll learn about traditional Irish baking techniques, how to create a windowpane effect, and how to ‘knock back’. Whatever your level of baking experience you’ll be made to feel very welcome.

Dursey Island

GOOD TO KNOW

  1. If travelling by air from the Great Britain or Europe, fly to Cork; if flying to Shannon from the US, allow 3 hours 40 minutes’ driving time
  2. If travelling from Dublin allow 4 hours 40 minutes’ driving time
  3. The cable car operates from 9am to 8pm during the summer
  4. There is parking close to the cable car’s departure point
  5. Cable car fare to the island is €8 return for adults and €4 return for children
Ireland’s teardrop
Mizen Head

When you can drive no further south, you’ve arrived at the dramatic Mizen Head.

Climb down the steps at the very end of the peninsula and onto the high arched suspension bridge that connects the mainland to a rocky crag, pointing its long stony finger out into the roaring wild Atlantic.

Far below you the surf foams and crashes, but you’ve nothing to fear as this bridge is built to withstand nature’s full force. On Mizen Head itself you’ll find an old signalling station, a weather station, and a lighthouse. The signalling station, once permanently manned, is now a fascinating museum about the important role Mizen Head has played in Ireland’s maritime history.

Should you look out to the horizon you’ll spot the imposing Fastnet Lighthouse standing on top of the Fastnet Rock. This is known as ‘The Teardrop of Ireland’, which for millions of Irish people emigrating to a better life in the new world was a final glimpse of home.

Beautiful Bantry

Bantry House, originally called Blackrock, was built in around 1700 on the south side of Bantry Bay, County Cork. Today it is a privately owned stately home offering guests an exquisite peek into history. Visitors are invited to stroll through the gardens, admire the views across the bay, or even stay for a night or two.

“It’s the beauty of Ireland, it’s the people of Ireland.”
Drop anchor in Crookhaven

Crookhaven lies as far south west of Cork as you can go without getting your feet wet. Filled with friendly people, this is one of many typically sleepy fishing villages you’ll discover along the Wild Atlantic Way. Brightly coloured boats bob in the bay, while pretty pastel-coloured cottages line the sloping street. Once you’ve put your feet under the table at one of its charming pubs, you probably won’t want to leave.

Mizen Head

GOOD TO KNOW

  1. Mizen Head is a 2 hour drive from Cork. If flying to Shannon from the US, allow 3 hours 30 minutes’ driving time
  2. If travelling from Dublin, allow 4 hours 30 minutes’ driving time
  3. Mizen Head Signalling Station Visitor Centre is open daily from mid March to October and at weekends from November to mid March
  4. Entrance fees for the Mizen Head Visitor Centre are €6 for adults, €4.50 for OAPs and students, €3.50 for children under 12, and children under 5 are free
  5. There is a café, gift shop, and car park at Mizen Head
There she blows!

The clear, unpolluted waters off Baltimore in West Cork provide a rich feeding ground for risso dolphins, basking sharks, minke and humpback whales, to name a few. The best time to see these watery residents is in the morning or evening; tours with Whale Watch West Cork start at 9.30am, with a sunset tour leaving at 7pm. Your whale-watching trip will be with qualified zoologist Nic Slocum, who’s an outspoken advocate for marine conservation.

Feel the spirit
Old Head of Kinsale

They say the best way to see Kinsale is by sea. So perhaps the best way to truly understand Kinsale is on a boat with a fisherman at the helm.

Perhaps one who’s studied Archaeology & Celtic Civilisations at UCC, and holds a Masters in Local History? Meet Jerome of Kinsale Harbour Cruises, who was born and grew up on the Old Head of Kinsale and has fished these waters for 28 years.

Jerome will share his local knowledge with you on a tour in his boat The Spirit of Kinsale, taking you out across the harbour, past Charles Fort and all the way to the edge of the wild Atlantic. It’s a fascinating hour on the water, with freshly brewed coffee and warm blankets should you need them.

Best of all are the stories that abound in this region. As a former Viking trading post, Kinsale played a key role in Irish history. In 1601 the area was sieged when Spanish troops entered the harbour. And in 1915 there was the dramatic night when the transatlantic liner ‘Lusitania’ was sunk by a German U-Boat just off the Old Head of Kinsale.

Indulge your senses

Every year the Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival is held in October, and most years it’s sold out. So if you fancy sampling lobster, crabs, prawns, artisan cheeses and meats, plus much more, it’s best to book in advance. If you consider yourself to be a bit of a ‘foodie’, this is one festival you really can’t miss.

An eerie glow

Tidal currents rush in from the Atlantic to feed Lough Hyne, a marine lake just south of Skibbereen, County Cork. You can learn more about the lake at the nearby Skibbereen Heritage Centre but make sure you experience it for yourself on a sea kayaking trip with a knowledgeable local guide. As darkness falls, the magic begins. Flickers of light appear on the front of the kayaks, and shining ripples spread out from the paddle blades. A hand dipped into the warm water sparkles. Microscopic marine life erupts into ghostly phosphorescence. Meanwhile the surface of the water seems to mirror the starry skies.

“The energy of the Atlantic is soaked up by the people.”

Old Head of Kinsale

Good to Know

  1. The Old Head of Kinsale is a 50 minute drive from Cork. If flying to Shannon from the US, allow 2 hours 20 minutes’ driving time
  2. If travelling from Dublin, allow 3 hours 15 minutes’ driving time
  3. Old Head Golf Club is recognised as one of the best in the world
  4. The Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse was built in the 17th century
  5. The Old Head of Kinsale is a 25 km (15 mile) drive south of Cork
Planning and booking

Preparing for your trip is simple. We’ve created pre-planned itineraries, or you can plot your own route by using the map. So what are you waiting for? Your Wild Atlantic Way adventure starts here.

Itineraries

Pick a pre-planned route with accommodation and activities mapped out.

Map

Plot the route, plus accommodation and activities you want, using an interactive map.