Day Trips from Cork City:

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Well known for being the birth place of one of the most important figures in the recent history of Ireland, Michael Collins, the town of Clonakilty (located in the South West Coast, on the N71 road and just 55 km from Cork) has as well many other things to offer: lovely pubs with traditional music, a Model Railway Village (constructed to preserved the memory of the West Cork Railway) that will delight children of all ages, fantastic beaches in just 10 km around (in the area of Galley Head), a beautiful Hotel-Spa and restaurant in the middle of two beaches at Inchydoney Island and much, much more.

Not so busy at the weekends like Kinsale & Kinsale Old Head, Galley Head is one of the best options near Cork City to escape from the crowd and enjoy the nature. Lovely and peaceful beaches are located in just 10 km around. Red Strand, Dunnycove, Ownahincha and the spectacular Long Strand, so like the coastal road to the Lighthouse at the end of Galley Head (without any private golf club disturbing your views like in Kinsale Old Head) will offer you hours of sunning, swimming, fishing, walking, beach picnics and surfing. Also in just 8 km driving from Galley Head you will be in Rosscarbery, a beautiful location with plenty of pub-restaurants and also a lovely blue flag beach, The Warren.

Galley Head landscape, photo taken on the road to the Lighthouse

Dunnycove, close to Ardfield village, in Galley Head (Clonakilty, Co. Cork)

Galley Head Lighthouse, viewed from the Red Strand

Galley Head Lighthouse

The Galley Head Lighthouse is located on the Dundeady headland, in the very heart of West Cork, about 130 feet above sea level, overlooking two fantastic beaches: Red Strand to the West and the Long Strand to the East. You can still see the ancient walls of the old Norman stronghold of Dondeady, just separating the headland, where the lighthouse is located, from the mainland. Built during 1875, the Galley Head Lighthouse has the distinction to be one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe.

If you drive few kilometers from the Lighthouse, following the road signs to Ownahincha, you will find one of the most beautiful beaches of West Cork: the Long Strand and its wonderful dunes (Castlefreke).

Long Strand and the dunes (Castlefreke, Galley Head)

Several photos of Long Strand taken from the top of one of the many walks across the dunes (Castlefreke, Galley Head)

Long Strand, a perfect place for really nice and long walks or picnics, unfortunately bathing is forbidden


Photo taken from one of the parking areas in Long Strand (Castlefreke, Galley Head)

Facing the Castlefreke Dunes and Long Strand you will see in the distance the imposing ruins of Castle Freke. Once the mansion of the Earls of Carbery (whose family name was Freke) there was a castle on that site during the 15th Century, belonging to the Barry family until it was occupied by the Frekes (who became later Earls of Carbery) in 1617. In 1642 it was besieged by local clans in what it turned to be the longest siege in Irish history. Finally it was destroyed by the Cromwellian soldiers in 1642. The mansion was later rebuilt several times and in 1820 Sir Richard Morrison (who also designed the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin) transformed the building into an elegant castellated mansion.

Unfortunately the house was abandoned in the 40's (?) by the tenth Lord Carbery (the last of the line) who was famous in the area for its weekly aeroplane displays over Castlefreke. He renounced his peerage and suddenly set off for Kenya, never returning to the area again...

It is said that one of the descendants of the Freke Family, living in USA, has bought the site and started recently to do some restoration works but is is uncertain what he plans with the building, maybe it will turn into a hotel or museum. At the moment you can see the restoration ongoing but it looks like they will take for ages...

There is also a pleasant walk through the state-owned Castlefreke Woods, around the old mansion, really nice during sunny and bright days.

Castle Freke viewed from the dunes of Long Strand. This very impressive mansion is being restored at the moment

Continue driving the R598 and stop on each curve to admire the nice views around: Ownahincha and Rosscarbey Bay. The first being more attractive for surfers due to its perfect waves and always windy conditions. Ownahincha is also a holiday resort with camping and caravan sites.

Ownahincha, in the background you can see some of the sandy beach of The Warren, in the Estuary of Rosscarbery
(photo taken from the R598 road)

You will be now just 8 km from Rosscarbey: great pub-restaurants will calm your hunger after hours of walking on the Long Strand and Castlefreke Dunes... and if all what you need now is a drink and just relaxing for a while, the lovely Glandore Harbour is only ten minutes driving from you! Take the R597 outside Rosscarbery and follow the road signs to Glandore.

Glandore, a small paradise and a perfect stop at the end of your day to enjoy the views and why not, a pint :-)

Sheltered from the North and West winds, Glandore and Union Hall are both an excellent harbour for boating and fishing. The are has been called the "Garden of Carbery" due to the mild temperatures of this place that allow luxuriant foliage and Mediterranean shrubs to grow everywhere.

Sitting outside of the pubs in Glandore, you will see too little islands on the entrance of Glandore Harbour. They are called "Adam and Eve". A very relaxing view that many poets and writers used to find peace and tranquility and complete their works. Among them was Sean O'Coileain, "The Silver Tongue of Munster".

"Adam" and "Eve", Glandore Bay

In the picture below you can see where the pubs are located in Glandore (under the green arrow). As you appreciate the views are fantastic.

pub-restaurants in Glandore
Glandore, viewed from the road to Union Hall
(the green arrow shows you the location of two lovely pubs with sea views in Glandore)

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Glandore, viewed from the road to Union Hall

Opposite Glandore, on the other side of the bay, is Union Hall. A colourful fishing village that offers good and fresh fish in its restaurants. A good option if you could not calm your hunger with delicious salads or sandwiches in the nice Glandore...

Fishing port of Union Hall. On the left, in the background, the white houses of Glandore

It is time to go home? On the way back to Cork, only few minutes driving from Glandore, you must stop and see the Drombeg Stone Circle (one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland). The circle consists of seventeen stones of which thirteen remain. It is believed that it was used for rituals and other ceremonies around 945-830 BC (as the Carbon dating of samples found in the site evidenced).

Drombeg Stone Circle, near Glandore

Well, time to drive back to Cork. Take again the R597 back to Rosscarbey and from there the N71 to Cork City. It should not take you long as the total distance is just about 70 km and the N71 road is pretty good and not too busy (except on Sunday evenings!).

I hope you liked this article. More to come soon in
Day Trips from Cork!

Text and pictures copyright © 2009 by Raúl Corral