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The Islands
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The Island’s of West Cork

The long West Cork coastline is dotted with islands and rocks. Many islands were once inhabited but now abandoned, while others have only a small number of residents today.

The seven inhabited island in West Cork are

  • Bere Island,

  • Whiddy Island (Bantry Bay),

  • Cape Clare Island,

  • Hare Island,

  • Long Island,

  • Sherkin Island (Roaringwater Bay)

  • Dursey Island at the end of the Beara Peninsula.

Islands no longer inhabited include

  • Calf Isles,

  • Castle Island,

  • Horse Island

  • Skeam Isles.

The Islands are fascinating to visit and most are easily accessible by ferry nearby.

Hare Island:
Hare (my favorite where my maternal grandmother came from) is a small island located in the inner part of Roaringwater Bay and has around 20 inhabitants. The ferryboat sails regularly from Turk head just down the road and Cunnamore Point on the mainland to the island.

Sherkin Island:
Sherkin Island lies just off Baltimore Harbour. It is about 5km in length from east to west, 2km wide and has fewer than 100 inhabitants. In the past the island was a stronghold of the O’Driscoll castle and a Franciscan monastery are to be seen close to the pier. Silver Strand is one of the finest sandy beaches in West Cork. The ferry boast to the island sails throughout the year from Baltimore harbour and in summer and at times from Cunnamore Point and Schull.

Cape Clear:
Cape Clear lies 15km off the sailing and fishing village of Baltimore. It is the only island in cork where the native inhabitants (over 100) still speak the Irish language; many students go to Cape Clear every summer for Irish tuition. Ferry boats sail from Baltimore throughout the year and from Schull in summer time.

Long Island:
Long Island lies off Schull Harbour in Roaringwater Bay. It is 3km long and 1km wide and has fewer than 30 residents. It comprises of around 150acres of land. It is very close to the mainland and does not have a regular ferry service.

Bere Island:
Bear Island near the mouth of Bantry Bay is one of the largest offshore islands in West Cork. It is 10km long by 4km wide and has a population of just over 200, well below the 2,000 prior to the Great Famine in the mid 19th century.
Between the mainland and Bere Island is a stretch of water known as Berehaven Sound. It is well sheltered and is a good deep-water anchorage for large ships.
Bere Island has a long association with the military, which commenced in 1797, after the arrival of the French Fleet in Bantry Bay. The Government of the time erected a signal tower, five Martello towers and a barracks for 150 men on Bere Island.
Today the Island is still used by the Irish military. The ferryboat sails regularly from the mainland at Castletownbere.

Whiddy Island:
Situated in Bantry Bay, Whiddy Island has become well known through oil terminal located there. It has fewer than 50 inhabitants and a regular ferryboat service from Bantry pier.

Dursey Island:
Dursey Island lies off the western extreme of the Beara Peninsula. It is the only Island in Ireland with a cable car connection to the mainland. The Island is two and a half kilometers long and one kilometre wide and comprises some 1,500 acres of rugged terrain and pastureland. The Island has less than a dozen residents. Between the island and the mainland is a narrow sound; through which vessels pass and the cable car travels overhead.

Apart from the islands, West Cork has many offshore rocks such as Bull Rock, the Stags and the Fastnet rock. Bull Rock lies off the Beara Peninsula and has a lighthouse which is now unmanned but still in operation through automation. The rock is home to many species of seabirds including Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill and Shag. It holds the second largest colony of nesting Gannets in Ireland. The Stag Rocks lie of Toe Head and consists of a series of jagged rocks. Many trawlers and large ships have foundered there over the years. The Kowloon Bridge bulk carried sank in 1986 close to the Stags. Carrying iron ore from Canada to Britain, it got into difficulties in the Atlantic Ocean. A buoy and light now mark the spot to the west of the Stag Rocks. The Fastnet Rock with its lighthouse is probably the vest known of all offshore rocks on the south coast.



Jason’s Cottage
Lissaree, Church Cross
Skibbereen, County Cork
Tel: +353-21-4375332

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