Climb down the steps at the very end of the peninsula and onto the high arched suspension bridge that connects the mainland to a rocky crag, pointing its long stony finger out into the roaring wild Atlantic.
Far below you the surf foams and crashes, but you’ve nothing to fear as this bridge is built to withstand nature’s full force. On Mizen Head itself you’ll find an old signalling station, a weather station, and a lighthouse. The signalling station, once permanently manned, is now a fascinating museum about the important role Mizen Head has played in Ireland’s maritime history.
Should you look out to the horizon you’ll spot the imposing Fastnet Lighthouse standing on top of the Fastnet Rock. This is known as ‘The Teardrop of Ireland’, which for millions of Irish people emigrating to a better life in the new world was a final glimpse of home.
Bantry House, originally called Blackrock, was built in around 1700 on the south side of Bantry Bay, County Cork. Today it is a privately owned stately home offering guests an exquisite peek into history. Visitors are invited to stroll through the gardens, admire the views across the bay, or even stay for a night or two.
Crookhaven lies as far south west of Cork as you can go without getting your feet wet. Filled with friendly people, this is one of many typically sleepy fishing villages you’ll discover along the Wild Atlantic Way. Brightly coloured boats bob in the bay, while pretty pastel-coloured cottages line the sloping street. Once you’ve put your feet under the table at one of its charming pubs, you probably won’t want to leave.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Mizen Head is a 2 hour drive from Cork. If flying to Shannon from the US, allow 3 hours 30 minutes’ driving time
- If travelling from Dublin, allow 4 hours 30 minutes’ driving time
- Mizen Head Signalling Station Visitor Centre is open daily from mid March to October and at weekends from November to mid March
- Entrance fees for the Mizen Head Visitor Centre are $8.50 for adults, $6.20 for OAPs and students, $4.90 for children under 12, and children under 5 are free
- There is a café, gift shop, and car park at Mizen Head
The clear, unpolluted waters off Baltimore in West Cork provide a rich feeding ground for risso dolphins, basking sharks, minke and humpback whales, to name a few. The best time to see these watery residents is in the morning or evening; tours with Whale Watch West Cork start at 9.30am, with a sunset tour leaving at 7pm. Your whale-watching trip will be with qualified zoologist Nic Slocum, who’s an outspoken advocate for marine conservation.