Forget about going to Greece to go Island Hopping, come to West Cork!
Roaring Water Bay contains many Islands, ranging from Cape Clear, which is the largest, to small uninhabited rocks and reefs. The most famous of these rocks is The Fastnet Rock. This rock stands out in the Atlantic Ocean at the entrance to Roaring Water Bay and is home to the Fasnett Lighthouse- one of the best known Lighthouses in the world. It is also known as the “Tear Drop of Ireland” because it was the last part of Ireland that the emigrants to the New World saw as they left during famine times. It is also the landmark that give its name to the Fastnet Race one of the world’s most famous yacht races run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
The most remote Island off of West Cork is Cape Clear, it is 8 miles off shore and is one of the most unspoiled parts of Ireland. The Island is inhabited and the people make their living from farming, fishing and tourism. There is a regular ferry service to Cape Clear from Baltimore with more frequent ferries in the summer.
Sherkin Island is also inhabited and is home to 120 people. It is close to shore being only 15 minutes from Baltimore by ferry. There is a beautiful ruined Franciscan abbey just above the pier on Sherkin. If you would like to spend an afternoon on an unspoiled beach, Sherkin Island is the place to go. It has three beautiful beaches within walking distance from the pier.In the summer you can get a taxi if walking is not your thing.
On a small Island close to the mainland is 15th century Kilcoe Castle. Built by the Mc Carthy Clan in 1603, this castle was last to be taken by the British. It is now owned by the actor Jeremy Irons and his wife Sinead Cusack. They bought the ruined castle and completely refurbished it. The plaster on the outside is a peculiar colour, being orange. This was very controversial at the time it was being done up, with many people objecting to the colour however Mr Irons maintains that this colour was the original colour of the castle in medieval times because the plaster was a mixture of lime, charcoal and animal blood!
From May to September you can take a guided tour of 10 of the islands of Roaring Water Bay. This tour starts and finishes at Baltimore on board the “Mystic Water” and lasts 2 hours. You will see spectacular scenery and wildlife including dolphins, seals and a variety of sea birds.
So for something different and completely natural why not visit the Islands of West Cork.