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Things to do in Clonakilty

A vibrant town, Clonakilty also boasts beautiful beaches, green surrounds and a mix of activities for everyone from water sports and adventure to golf, and our proud heritage. 

BEACHES

INCHYDONEY

The Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney Island, just a few miles from Clonakilty, is renowned not only as one of the most familyfriendly beaches in West Cork but also as one of the most beautiful. With vast expanses of sand, dunes and excellent surfing conditions there really is something for everyone. Make sure to visit the beautiful 4 Star Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa  Hotel on your visit.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Car parking, toilets and access via ramps and steps. Lifeguards on duty in the summer season).

LONG STRAND

About 15 minutes from Clonakilty and looking out over the Galley Head lighthouse is the aptly named Long Strand. A mile and a half of sand bounded by waves of dunes this is the perfect place to stretch your legs and breath in the fresh Atlantic air. The top end is a haven for surfers but the rest of the beach is unsafe for bathing due to a dangerous undertow.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Car parking facilities are available at the southern end of the beach).

RED STRAND

Dotted with rock pools, the Red Strand is only minutes from the Long Strand and offers a wonderful tranquil spot for the whole family.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Toilets and access off road)

THE WARREN

The Blue Flag beach at The Warren, Rosscarbery is a wonderfully sheltered family beach with safe bathing and numerous rock pools. If swimming or paddling isn’t your thing then try a round of Pitch and Putt on the 18-hole championship course located in the adjacent dunes or perhaps a spot of fishing off the pier.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Car parking, toilets – closed in winter – and access via ramps. Lifeguard on duty in the summer season).

OWENAHINCHA

Owenahincha is a popular family beach backing onto sand dunes and located approximately 7 miles from Clonakilty. Here you can get the best of two beaches by taking the short walk over the cliffs to The Warren, Rosscarbery while taking in the incredible sea views. Owenahincha is only minutes away from Castlefreke woods and the ‘TidyVillage’ of Rathbarry with shop, pub, water wheel and pot bellied pig!

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Car parking and toilet facilities. Lifeguards on duty in summer season).

Dunworley Beach

Dunworley Beach

Dunworley Beach is a real hidden gem on the Clonakilty coast. This tidal beach is perfect for a serene swim or walk along the cliffs and is popular with bodyboarders and surfers alike. For a unique stay, check out the Dunworley Cottage, just a moments stroll from this stunning secluded beach.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Photo: @tobinio43_)

(Car parking is very limited. Roads are quite rural and narrow so caution is advised.)

Duneen Beach

duneen Beach

Yet another of Clonakilty’s small and secluded beaches, Duneen is located just 15 minutes from the town. The beach is superb for short walk or family picnic. 
Stop off at the superb family run 4 Star Dunmore House Hotel just 5 minutes away for food, drinks or accommodation.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

(Photo: @neisycronin)


(Car parking is very limited. Roads are quite rural and narrow so caution is advised.)

 

Activities & Outdoors

The West Cork Model Railway Village

The West Cork Model Railway Village, Ireland's only Model Village, is a fully scaled handmade model of the historic West Cork Railway Line with fully working trains and the towns that the railway served during the 1940's. Take a spin on the iconic Road Train through the beautiful town of Clonakilty. Indoor and outdoor play areas. Try out the new remote control boats! Relax and enjoy a cup of coffee/tea in the Café and visit the Gift Shop in an authentic train carriage.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty. 

Michael Collins

Michael Collins, Clonakilty's most important son, is one of the most significant figures in the creation of the modern Irish State. Visit the Michael Collins Heritage Centre and Michael Collins House in Clonakilty town to learn more. Michael Collins died during Ireland's Civil War at a place called Béal na mBláth - not far from Woodfield, Clonakilty, Co. Cork where he was born just over 31 year earlier. The ambush was commanded by Tom Hales and Liam Deasy, both of whom were former friends and comrades in arms of the ‘Big Fella’.

 

Lisselan House

Lisselan House, on the banks of the Argideen River was built in 1851/53 by William Bence-Jones. The House in French Chateau Style was designed by Lewis Vuliamy. In the late 1800s the smoke room wing was added, to the design of Sir Thomas Newenham Deane who also designed the lodge at the front gate. The Property was sold to C.O. Stanley in 1929 and he enlarged the hall by building a single storey addition along the entrance in 1946.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

 

Atlantic Whale & wildlife tours

Atlantic Whale & Wildlife Tours - When it comes to unique wildlife encounters there are few things as breath-taking and humbling as coming face to face with the world’s largest creatures. Whale watching is one of those activities that comes close to the top of every “100 things to do before you die” bucket list ever compiled — and it’s much more accessible than you might think. 

 

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty to Atlantic Whale & Wildlife Tours, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork. 

 

Clonakilty Bike Scheme

Ten hotels together with The Model Railway Village, in the West Cork town of Clonakilty and its surrounds, joined to offer the Clonakilty Bike Scheme in Ireland’s first rural community bike rental scheme. The Clonakilty Bike Scheme comes complete with tips for cycling on West Cork roads and a Clonakilty area cycle route map. Suggested cycle routes include Inchydoney Loop, 10km; Courtmacsherry Loop via Timoleague, 33km; South Beaches Loop via Castlefreke Woods, 34km; Timoleague to Ballinspittle via Killbrittain Whale Bones, 30km; and Rosscarbery to Unionhall via Drombeg Stone Circle, 20km.

 

Fernhill House & Gardens

Fernhill House and Gardens - The gardens at Fernhill are the perfect place to relax and unwind. There are many quiet corners for you to enjoy a book, chat or reflect on the beauty of the gardens. There are many stunning features including a heart shaped flower bed, rose walk, geyser and many more.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

 

Inchydoney Surf School

Inchydoney Surf School have been in business for 16 years in Inchydoney. For ages 8-108 anyone can enjoy the thrilling experience of surfing in Irelands number 1 beach as voted by Tripadvisor, which is only 10 minutes from the vibrant festival town of Clonakilty. At Inchydoney Surf School wetsuits, surfboards and if needed, boots, hoods and gloves are all provided. Changing rooms are also provided. The instructors are in the water with you at all times. Every instructor is a Fully qualified lifeguard and surf instructor.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

 

Sprigging School

Sprigging School 

Rathbarry was well known in the early 19th century for its lace making. The lace especially associated with the area was known as sprigging lace because it was shaped like a sprig or spray. In 1825, Lady Carbery initiated this school to teach the art of lace making. In recent times, the building had fallen into dereliction but in 2000, the Tidy Towns Committee restored the building to its original condition using traditional building methods resulting in an award in the Green Town 2000 competition.There was no bridge when the school was in use. Instead, students were expected to ford the stream using two short flights of steps.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

 

Clonakilty Park Adventure Centre

Clonakilty Park Adventure Centre, is Clonakilty's newest family activity centre in the heart of West Cork. Located on the grounds of the Quality Hotel & Leisure Club, this superb adventure centre offers a host of exciting activities for you to choose from including Aerial Trekking High Ropes Course, Climbing Tower, Zip Line and Power Fan Jump.

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

Clonakilty GAA Sports Complex

Clonakilty GAA pitch and track is the place to go if you would like a run or walk on a secure path. 

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.

 

8 beautiful ISLANDS OF WEST CORK

Clonakilty is the perfect base from which to plan your daily island excursions. The town offers a wide and varied selection of accommodation to include hotels, B&Bs, self catering, guesthouses and camping grounds. 

The majority of islands are within a 60 minute drive of Clonakilty and this allows visitors to enjoy some of West Cork’s outstanding country scenery along the way.

Inchydoney Island

Visit For: Food/Drink, Scenery, Surfing Lessons, Walks. 

Distance: 10 minutes (6.5KM) from Clonakilty to Inchydoney Island

Transport to the Island: Inchydoney Island is connected by road from Clonakilty.

 

Inchydoney Island is one of Clonakilty’s star attractions. The island is home to the renowned Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa and one of Ireland's top beaches for 3 years running in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards. The Inchydoney Surf School offers a selection of lessons and equipment rental for those who wish to get out and get active. Stunning scenery, rolling sand dunes and a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean make this short trip one of the most worthwhile when visiting the area. (Photo: @sea_bar92)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Local Tip: Follow a relaxing stroll on the beach or dunes with a visit to Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa for a meal or drink. In peak season, make sure to get there early in the day to ensure ease of parking.

sherkin island

Visit For: Art, Walking Trails, Retreat.
Distance: 40 Minutes (43KM) From Clonakilty to Baltimore Pier.

Transport to the Island: 10 Minute Ferry from Baltimore Pier. Ferries sail every day all year round. Find out more here.

 

3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, Sherkin Island is well known as an ‘Island of the Arts’. Currently home to over 30 working artists, you can't find a more impressive environment for inspiration. Regular artist exhibitions take place throughout the year, celebrating the artists work. Nurture creativity on Sherkin’s North Shore or unwind with a yoga retreat or writing weekend.

 

Sherkin also boasts some of the most tranquil and breathtaking walks. Three leisurely and comfortable walks are available on Sherkin Island with one 3K and the remaining two 5K long.  (Photo: @sallyannewade)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Locals Tip: Visit in July and August to avail of the annual regatta and summer festivals. Nothing beats a picnic on Silver Strand.

 

bere island

Visit For: Historic Sites, Whale Watching, Walking Trails.
Distance: 1.5 Hours (95KM) from Clonakilty to Castletown - Bearhaven.

Transport to the Island: 30 minute ferry from the Pontoon. Ferries sail every day all year round. Find out more here.

 

Bere Island is the ideal place for history buffs and cultural explorers. The island, an important port,  is home to numerous British military fortifications including “Lonehort Battery” dating back to 1899. The islands history goes even further with a scattering of ringforts, standing stones and the Druids Altar Wedge Tomb to be seen across the island.

Located at the mouth of Bantry Bay, Bere Island is frequented by basking sharks, dolphins and killer whales, making it a haven for those looking to partake in whale watching or Sea Safaris. (Photo: @angelatbyrne)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Locals Tip: Make sure to book a place on the Bere Island Heritage Tour Bus. The tour gives visitors the opportunity to explore historic sights dating back to the Bronze Age.

 

cape clear island

Visit For: Bird Watching, Whale Watching, Culture.
Distance: 40 Minutes (43KM) From Clonakilty to Baltimore Pier 

Transport to the Island: 40 minutes ferry from Baltimore Pier. Ferries sail regularly all year round. Find out more here.

 

The Island of Cape Clear lies just beyond Sherkin Island at Ireland’s most southerly inhabited point. The island gives visitors the opportunity to experience its culture and history while also offering nature lovers an unrivalled experience. Cape Clear is home to the country's only manned bird observatory and is a leading dolphin and whale watching destination.

 

Summer on the island sees an explosion of festivals, entertainment and activity to include the renowned Cape Clear Story Telling Festival. The community speak both English and Irish and the island has a number of places to enjoy some food, a drink or a chat with the locals. (Photo: @cape_clear_island)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Locals Tip: The Fastnet Lighthouse Tour is a must when visiting Cape Clear. Tours are dependant on sea conditions and must be booked 72 - 48 hours in advance.

 

dursey island

Visit For: Bird Watching, Walking Trails, Relaxation.

Distance: 2 hours (120KM) From Clonakilty to Ballaghboy Cable Car

Transport to the Island: Short cable car ride from Ballaghbo. Cable Car timetables can be viewed here.

At  6.5 km long and 1.5 km wide, Dursey Island is the idyllic escape from the madness of modern society. Connected to the mainland by cable car since 1969, Dursey is home to 3 small villages that live life at a relaxed pace. The Island is another ideal location for bird watching with Puffins, Gannets and Razorbills on show. Stunning cliffs and natural beauty can be enjoyed all around the island. (Photo: @kiwi_exploring_ireland)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Locals Tip: The maximum number of passengers on the cable car is 6. It is advisable to visit the island early in the day as often, no more visitors will be allowed on the island after a particular time in the afternoon. This is due to ensuring all visitors have time leave the island before the last cable car operates.  Allow at least 5 hrs for your trip.

 

garnish island

 

Visit For: Horticulture, Scenery, Wildlife.
Distance: 1 Hour (64KM) From Clonakilty to Ballaghboy Cable Car. 

Transport to the Island: Short ferry from Glengarrif Pier. Ferry timetables can be viewed here.

 

Just off of Glengarrif, Garnish Island is often referred to as  a ‘Garden Paradise’. Originally dominated by a British Martello Tower, the tower was purchased in 1910 by Belfast businessman John Annan Bryce. Bryce commissioned Harold Peto to design the magical Italian Gardens growing here today. Bryce’s own cottage has been restored and is open to members of the public. (Photo: @marblesbanana)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.



Locals Tip: During the short ferry trip to Garnish Island keep watch for the numerous seals that frequent the waters of the bay. Visit the islands Martello tower to soak in the amazing views from the battlements.

heir island

 

Visit For: Cookery Classes, Sailing Classes, Retreat.


Distance: 45 minutes (45KM) from Clonakilty to Cunnamore Pier

Transport to the Island: Short ferry from Cunnamore Pier

Ferry timetables can be viewed here.

 

Heir Island is in close proximity to both Sherkin and Cape Clear. Celebrated for its gourmet food, The Island Cottage Cookery School makes the most of the fresh local produce available by offering visitors a number of tailor made courses. Heir Island is also home to a well regarded Sailing School and Retreat Centre catering for all types of visitors. (Photo:  @heirislandretreat)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Local Tip: Explore by bike or kayak to access all the impressive hidden corners of Heir Island.

 

Sprigging School

whiddy Island 

Visit For: Historical Sites, Birdwatching, Water Activities.

Distance: 50 minutes (50KM) from Clonakilty to Bantry Harbour

Transport to the Island: 15 minutes ferry from Bantry Harbour. Ferry timetables can be viewed here.

Whiddy Island nestled in Bantry Bay, is home to inhabitants who devote their time to farming and fishing. The island has a rich naval history with WW1 seaplanes from Whiddy patrolling Fastnet Rock. In more recent times the island saw the worst maritime disaster in Irish history, taking place in 1979, with the explosion of the French tanker Betelgeuse.

 

Nowadays Whiddy is a centre for birdwatchers and also offers kayakers, sailors and paddle boarders an unforgettable experience exploring the islands coastline. (Photo: @rhodadullea)

Click here for google maps directions from Clonakilty.


Local Tip: Book a guided walk with local man Tim O’Leary to learn the military history of the island.

 

   

 

Reviews

We stayed in Clonakilty for 4 nights and loved it. So much to do. Beautiful beaches. Lovely pubs and such friendly people! Can't wait to come back!

Denise Lemmon Brown

A charming, yet cosmopolitan little gem, set in a stunningly beautiful part of the Emerals Isle. Great food, friendly people with immense sense of civic responsibility. Do not miss the music scene.

Jim Shine

I love Clonakility! Whenever we visit the Cork area we can't resit a stop off! Great Cafes & Restaurants. Very Pretty Town, bustling with life and Activity!!!!

Mary Sheridan Galway

A great town vibrant and pretty. Always plenty to do. Always clean and with the most friendly people. A must visit for both visitors to Ireland and native Irish. Great pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Michael McKenna

The most vibrant small town in Ireland. Always something happening. Great food, great atmosphere, lovely people.

Alison Wickham

We found Clonakilty to be one of if not the friendliest place we've ever visited. The people of "Clon " treated us like we had lived there our whole lives.They welcomed us into their lives like we were family.

Mitch Eveleth Iowa, USA

Great town ."The people are Splendid" to use a quote of the towns most Famous famous residence Michael Collins. The food and choice of food is excellent, the layout of the town with it meanderingĀ streets creates an intimacy with this place.

Michael McManus

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