The weather is sunny and blustery on our drive around Galley Head peninsula. The beaches are spectacular, perfect for sunning and swimming and surfing. The circling towns offer lots of good food and entertainment, after a long day on the beach. Galley Head peninsula is a place to experience the Cork ocean coast -- for who like to get into the water.
Clonakilty is a fun village to enjoy life. Lots of gourmet food, good shopping, and unique street life awaits. Prepare your beach picnic here. Pick up some quiche, baked fresh at The Lettercollum Kitchen Project, a unique, specialty food and wine shop on Connolly Street. Take a bottle of wine too and get out to Inchydoney Beach. It is a wide, sandy beach -- a big surf spot, too. You can rent a board if you didn't bring yours from home.
Rosscarbery grew up around St. Fachtna's, a late sixth century monastery. It borders a quiet lagoon and is a great spot for bird watching, horseback riding, or sailing. Here is a place to dip your fishing line in the waters from the pier or out at the sea.
What to See and Do
There are many sandy beaches on the Galley Head peninsula - Inchydoney Beach is on Clonakilty Bay just outside of town. Continue on the coastal road toward Castlefreke to find Warren Beach, Ownahincha Beach, and the Long Strand - all good spots with lots of velvety sand.
Clonakilty is a place to shop and eat - wander Spiller's Lane, for antiques and gourmet, organic food. For entertainment in the evening, drop into An Teach Beag, in Recorder's Alley, to hear traditional music sessions all summer - free admission. De Barra's is a music venue renowned for attracting talent from all over Europe.
In Rosscarbery, study the past and the present. Visit Drombeg Stone Circle, off the R597 west toward Glandore. In town, check out the local art at Doswell Gallery, a contemporary art gallery exhibiting primarily paintings. Hubert's Crafts has hand-made baskets, ceramics, and sweaters. The Dromillihy Forest Park is a good place to get lost under the trees; it's on the N71 road to Leap.
Where to Eat and Drink
Clonakilty has some tempting culinary options. The Choc Box on Ashe Street imports Belgian loose chocolates for your sampling, or take home a box of Irish chocolates. In Spiller's Lane, the Olive Branch Heart and Soul Food carries whole foods, organic peanut butter, tofu, and other fresh essentials. Abacus, also in Spiller's Lane, is a bakery creating breads, scones, and tarts, as well as stocking fresh French yogurts with fruit. Prego is a street-side café to nibble scones and sip tea.
Stop in to West Cork Wines in Ardfield.
In Rosscarbery , O'Callaghan Walshe is a fine seafood restaurant, open for dinner only, Wednesday to Sunday from 6:30PM to 9:15PM. Visit the Rosscarbery Farmer's Market, every Saturday from 10AM to noon. For breakfast or lunch, try The Pilgrim's Rest, serving homemade cakes, scones, and fresh coffee.
Where to Sleep
Rent a cottage on Inchydoney Beach and create your own surfside bungalow. O'Donovan's Hotel is a family-run place in the Clonakilty town centre with traditional music every Tuesday in the lounge - Tel: 023 33250.
Rosscarbery has several options for accommodations. O'Rioron Caravan Park, if you are so equipped. The Celtic Ross Hotel is a three star accommodation in town. Or Rent a Celtic Cottage on the beach for your entire family (www.celticcottages.ie). You'll also find hotels all along the beach on the coastal road toward Castlefreke.
How to get there
From Clonakilty, take the R571 west to Inchydoney Beach, then through Castlefreke and Rosscarbery.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
Bikes can be transported on the Irish Rail Network with a small additional fare for bike depending on the length of your journey.
When to go
April to October when the days are long and the weather is fine. Rosscarbery Festival of Rowing in mid-June. Rosscarbery Family Festival in mid-August. Rosscarbery Horse Fair in late August.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007