West Cork is one of Ireland's premier tourist regions. It stretches from Kinsale in the east to the rugged Beara peninsula at it's western edge. The region has long been a popular destination for Irish tourists but has only been more recently discovered by overseas tourists. Some people have described West Cork as Ireland in miniature.
It has fertile farmland around Bandon that gives way to a more·upland landscape as you move further west. It has an Irish-speaking Gaeltacht region in Cape Clear but was also home to Ireland's most famous female Anglo-Irish writers Sommerville and Ross.
The area is regarded as the epicentre of the Irish potato famine, particularly around Skibbereen. Today the area is internationally renouned as a destination with great food and a warm Irish welcome.
Towns in West Cork
All of the towns in West Cork are relatively small. They were traditional market towns for farmers and fishermen in their local hinterlands. Tourism has become a more important part of the local enconomy over the last few decades. The most popular towns for visitors include:
- Bantry - is at the head of one of the finest bays in Europe
- Castletownberehaven - is one of Ireland's leading fishing ports
- Clonakilty - is famous for its "Black Puddings"
- Dunmanway - is at the geographical center of West Cork
- Kinsale - is the gorment capital of Ireland
- Skibbereen - is Ireland's most southerly town
Villages in West Cork
There are a number of beatuiful villages in West Cork. Due to it's indented coastline and long connection with seafaring most of the popular villages are associated with the sea. The most popular include
- Baltimore - the last village in Ireland to be sacked by pirates
- Castletownshend - famous for it's connection with Sommerville and Ross
- Glandore - a riviera style village near Skibbereen
- Glengarriff - The gateway to the Beara Peninsula with a subtropical climate
- Schull - home to a famous sailing school
- Goleen - very close to Mizen Head - Ireland's most southerly point
- Timoleague - Site of a 6th century monastic settlement and home to popular annual harvest festival
Things to see in West Cork
Most visitors come to West Cork for its amazing scenery. It reportedly has 100 isles that you can visit along its indented coastline. It also has some beautiful hills and mountains. Mount Gabriel with it's two "golf balls" on top and Hungry Hill are among the best known examples. Among the top visitor attractions in West Cork are
- Charles Fort - near Kinsale is a classic example of a star-shaped fort
- Lough Hyne - Ireland's first Marine Nature Reserve
- Mizen Head - Ireland's most southerly point with spectacular views
- Bantry House - ancestral home of the White family
- Skibbereen Heritage Centre - incorporating the Lough Hyne Visitor Centre
Food in West Cork
With a mild climate and non-intensive farming coupled with it's long seafaring tradition, West Cork has a growing reputation as one of Europe's premier food producing regions. This has been cemented by artisian producers in the the region coming together under the Fuchsia Brand. There are a number of farmers markets and country markets each week.
Getting to West Cork
Cork airport is the most convienient way to fly to West Cork. The airport is right on the eastern boundary of the region just on the outskirts of Cork City. There is also a ferry from France that sails into Ringaskiddy in Cork harbour.
The main road that connects most of the key tourism attractions in West Cork is the N71.