Twice a day, the Atlantic flows in and flushes out of Lough Hyne and has been doing so for 4,000 years. It is a rare inland sea lake, located three miles south west of Skibbereen. An important and distinct habitat, though small in size (it is one square kilometer of sea), it was designated Europe’s first Marine Nature Reserve in 1981, and it is owned by the people of Ireland. See sea caves, whirl pools, tidal rapids, and deep and quiet pools.
The sea life in Lough Hyne represents 75% of the creatures found in Ireland. It is home to 72 species of fish, including cod, monkfish, and mackerel. Sixty-five percent of all species Irish seaweeds are found here. Twenty-four species of crab crawl the waters.
The Lough Hyne Interpretive Centre is located at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre in the town of Skibbereen.
What to See and Do
Learn the folklore of the King Labhra Loinseach, who had asses ears and lived in the Cloghan Castle, now in ruins. For a good view of Lough Hyne, climb up Mount Knockoumah. Sit beside the salty waters with a picnic and let the lushness mesmerize your senses. The lake is a good place to dive both day and night, with the required permit. There are several walking routes. Swimming and kayaking are permitted, but look out for jellyfish. Lot of birds to watch and flora and fauna to identify. Or bring your sketchbook and record the life and scenery.
No opening times.
No admission fee.
How to get there
In Skibbereen, follow the town’s oen-way system to the roundabout, at take the exit for the R595 road to Baltimore. After traveling 3km on this road, take a left to Lough Hyne. Travel 3km farther on this road to reach the lake.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
When to go
April to October, when the days are long and the sun is out.
Written by Liz O' Malley - Summer of Travel 2007