I hope I find you all well. Welcome to part 2 of our journey through Ireland’s largest county. For me, West Cork is a real paradise with it’s magnificent peninsulas, gorgeous harbor towns and stunning beaches. So how to pick a list in this amazing county-impossible!! There’s so much to choose from so here’s just a few of it’s many highlights.
What better place to begin than the gateway to West Cork- Kinsale. This beautiful town is also known as “Ireland’s Riviera” and “The Gourmet Capital of Ireland” and for good reason. The food is amazing here and the setting is so beautiful with it’s lovely long waterfront, the harbor dotted with yachts and it’s winding streets. I especially love the colorful shops, houses and galleries. It’s a real joy to wander around this most picturesque of Irish villages.
Another great thing about Kinsale is that it’s home to one of our makers at The Irish Store-the inimitable Wild Goose Studios. Founded by Irish artists Brian Scott-Mac Carthy and Kathleen Smyth in 1970, the team of highly skilled artists there produce beautiful Irish art pieces inspired by Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. My personal favorite is their stunning take on the Celtic cross below;
2. Mizen Head
If we’re going to explore this part of the country then Mizen Head is an absolute must. This is Ireland’s most southerly point at the tip of the first of West Cork’s three magnificent peninsulas. There is an unmistakable edge of the world feeling here. The peninsula also boasts an absolute stunner of a beach……
3. Barleycove Beach
Some say this is the most beautiful beach in Ireland and it’s easy to see why. It’s believed the impressive sand dunes here were caused by a tsunami in Lisbon in 1755 resulting in 15 foot waves at this part of the Irish coast. To walk this beach on a fine West Cork summer day is sheer bliss.
Before we leave this peninsula we have to drop by the gorgeous town of Schull. Full of charm and the unique West Cork hospitality, I just love it’s wealth of quirky arty shops and great pubs and cafes. It is also home to yet another one of our The Irish Store artists, Sabine at Enibas Jewellery. Her signature “croi alainn collection” meaning “A Beautiful Heart” is simply stunning. This gorgeous pendant is one of my favorites.
5. Sheeps Head
Time to get those hiking boots on and explore the many looped walks on West Cork’s narrowest peninsula. There’s breathtaking scenery at every turn and you simply have to stop off at the beautiful area of Gougane Barra.
There’s something so peaceful and tranquil about this unspoilt corner of Ireland. St. Finbar’s Oratory sits on an island in Gougane Barra lake, the source of the River Lee. The Caha mountains are your backdrop and this is really is one of Ireland’s hidden gems.
6. Beara Peninsula
Again there’s so much to explore on West Cork’s third peninsula. Another walkers paradise and the place to find Ireland’s only cable car!
This takes people and animals to and from the mainland to the stunning Dursey Island. At the right time of year you can see basking sharks here!
Another enchanting Irish village and one of Ireland most south westerly, it sits nestled at the foot of the Slieve Mickish mountain range and boast stunning views over Coulagh Bay and the Atlantic beyond. Like Kinsale, the brightly painted houses really add to it’s irresistible charm. I was lucky enough to be here over Easter where I witnessed a nail-biting duck race!
Well that’s all from me for this week. I’ve had an absolute ball exploring West Cork with you.
Slán go fóill!
The Irish Store Founder
P.S. Shop the full collection at the Irish store below and get a fantastic 15% discount sitewide!!