Old Head



Garrettstown & Garrylucas

West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way

Map of West Cork


West Cork is a region in Co Cork Ireland. Traditionally a tourist destination, the area is known for its rugged peninsulas (such as the remote Beara Peninsula, Sheeps He, d and Mizen Head peninsulas), beaches such as Inceydoney, Owenahincha and Barleycove, and towns and villages such as Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Kinsale, and Rosscarbery

The area of West Cork is not strictly defined, but at its broadest definition, it includes all parts of County Cork south and west of the River Lee with the exception of Cork city and suburbs. Road signs may be found around Cork city and elsewhere directing traffic for "The West", or "West Cork". The town of Bandon is described as the "Gateway to West Cork". However, both Carrigaline and Macroom are also seen as gateways to the region.






Kinsale town nestles between the hills and the shoreline, a maze of narrow streets, never far from the water. Amongst buildings of later periods are those of another age with historical links to the French, Spanish, British, and Americans. The Battle of Kinsale fought in 1601 between a combined Spanish, an Irish force and English armies, was a turning point in Irish history. The harbor is guarded by two very fine star-shaped fortresses built in the 17th century: Charles Fort is well worth a visit,



Kinsale can easily claim its place amongst Ireland's most historic locations for this has been a center of population, commerce, trade, and fishing for so long. In its earliest days, the estuary of the Bandon River gave it great importance as the river is tidal as far as Innishannon and water transport was dominant until the 18th Century. The estuary also provided excellent anchorage for ancient shipping which went in peril of the vagaries of the weather. Today Kinsale is a busy town for locals and tourists alike. Walking around the town of Kinsale you can enjoy browsing in its many shops, for gifts, crafts, paintings, locally designed fashions, art galleries, and book shops. Renowned for its restaurants and fine dining as well as an abundance of fine pubs. Many other attractions can be found outside the town of Kinsale like the old head peninsula with its great lighthouse and world-renowned Golf course It is also the site of The old head signal tower which has the memorial garden monument to the Lusitania liner which sank nearby by a German U-boat. This tower and garden is well worth a visit.




The Old Head Lighthouse

The famous Old Head lighthouse and Golf club

West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way



Welcome to West Cork

West Cork is one of the last bastions of “old Ireland”; a pocket of pretty towns, deserted beaches, and jutting peninsulas and island frontiers

Beara Peninsula, south west IrelandBeara Peninsula, southwest Ireland

Ask any local living between Kinsale and the Beara, Sheep’s Head and Mizen Head Peninsulas where they’re from, and they’ll answer "West Cork" – never just "Cork". Strictly speaking, West Cork begins at Kinsale and runs in a westerly direction to Dursey Island at the tip of the Bera Peninsula 

The further west you head, the more rugged and "wild west" the landscape becomes. When you hit the coastline of little ports, bays, inlets, and harbors, expect to share it with the other adventure-seeking surfers, anglers and kayakers who all get drawn there. Even still, you’ll never feel remotely crowded in West Cork. In fact, sometimes you'll feel like you have the place entirely to yourself.

Blue fin whales Bluefin whales

While the deserted beaches of West Cork are a big draw, the villages here are especially inviting. Schull is a hive of activity and a hub for land and watersport adventure. Glengarriff is surrounded by rich woodland making it feel more like an isolated Canadian outpost than an elegant West Cork village. Allihies and Eyeries are famed for their colorful houses, while Clonakilty is THE place to enjoy a local gourmet feast, including its famous black pudding.

Gougane Barra is an isolated area, with forested hills sweeping up from the lake of the same name. The source of Cork’s River Lee, Gougane Barra is where St Finbarr spent time in the 6thcentury. By the water’s edge, surrounded by rhododendrons, sits the tiny St Finbarr’s Oratory; while the surrounding hills are crisscrossed by signposted walking trails.

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Hedged in by mountains on three sides and between the Sheep’s Head and Beara PeninsulaBantry town isn’t short of scenery. The bay is one of the deepest natural harbors in the world, and every day the docks wake up to ships of all sizes arriving with their catch.

Bantry’s centerpiece is the town square lined with trees, a huge anchor and a fountain. On Fridays, a market bursts into life, bringing artisan producers in their droves – it’s a great place to pick up a deli lunch of local cheese and salami. And if it's good food you're after, Bantry hits the nail on the head, with O’Connor’s Seafood restaurant and the Fish Kitchen worth a stop for a bowl of crab claws.

The 17th-century Bantry House, which is still home to the Earls of Bantry, is a historic house primed for exploration. The views out over Bantry Bay are extraordinary and strolls in the gardens verge on the heavenly.

Garden Island

In the sheltered harbor of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay lies the very special Garnish(or Garnish) Island. Over 70 years ago, a creative partnership between the island owner and an architect led to the island developing its 15 hectares of lush, subtropical woodland gardens and pathways, as well as a colonnaded Italian Garden and a Grecian Temple. Linger here for inspiration. Others did: Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote much of his play Saint Joan at this spot.

Away from it all

The Mizen Peninsula is on a craggy outcrop where one of Ireland’s prettiest beaches can be found: Barleycove. The long, sandy stretch is framed by rich, green headlands that jut out into the ocean, and boasts Blue Flag status. Anglers, meanwhile, should make a beeline for Sheep’s Head. Local, Jonny Lucey, says: “The shoreline around here is so fantastic, you can walk home with a very healthy take of mackerel.”

Looking for adventure?

Take your pick from sailing to Cape Clear island, a trip around the dramatic Fastnet Lighthouse or going whale watching (for fin and minke whales). A ride to Dursey Island on Ireland’s only cable car is a high-flying sensation for the views alone. And visiting the 13th-century Dún na Séad Castle in Baltimore will tell you all about a pirate attack in the 17th century (also known as The Sack of Baltimore) that robbed the village of over 100 people.

This is the wild west after all.