Off the beaten path in West Cork! 

Photo of Cork, Ireland by Manali
Photo of Cork, Ireland by Manali

In my "Experiencing true Ireland" expedition, as I made my way from listening to epic trad session in the musical county of Clare to immersing in the enticing history of Kerry County, I was expecting even more from the Southern County Cork. After a 3 hour drive from Dingle to Cork, I felt like Iw as back in Dublin. As I started missing the villages, driving through the secluded roads, walk on the cliffs, people speaking in gaelic around me, I realized I wasn't ready to enter the city just yet. That's when I stumbled upon the villages of West Cork!

West Cork is a hidden and underrated treasure of the South West. Comprising of Kinsale, followed by the other aesthetic villages of Clonakilty, Timeoleague, Baltimore, Mizen Head and the origin of one of my favorite drives, the Wild Atlantic Way. It gave me a perfect off-beat path that I enjoyed and was worth exploring.

1) The Titanic Town of Cobh

The Cobh Cathedral

Photo of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland by Manali

The Cobh Cathedral

This "little" harbor in Cork county is famous for being the last port of call for Titanic and as an embarkation point for Irelands mass emigration. Apart from treasuring a beautiful history, it is also a very popular cruise destination.

Cobh is only 20 minutes drive away from Cork city and a convenient stop if you are staying in Cork.

Things to do

- The Titanic Experience Center if you wish to the movie. 

- Walk around the town and the harbor 

- The Cobh Cathedral 

- Kinsale is only 40 minutes away. 

- Cork city is around 20 minutes drive away.

2) Finding Colors in Kinsale

The Kinsale town square

Photo of Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland by Manali

Brimming with artsy stores, restaurants, pubs, forts and much more, I absolutely loved staying in this colorful village. Kinsale downtown is the most colorful town I have come across in Ireland.

I would definitely suggest staying in Kinsale if you are visiting Cork as it is closer to the city and also to the other villages in the West Cork.

Things to do

- The Old Head Kinsale which hosts one of the most expensive Golf Club 

- Old Head Light house which is inside the Golf Club. 

- Charles fort and the James fort for breathtaking views of the ocean. 

- The Desmond castle, which is a tower house.

- The Town square for some shopping, food and drinks!

3) Experiencing sanctitude in Timoleague

Colors everywhere around

Photo of Timoleague, County Cork, Ireland by Manali

Just about 50 minutes way from the city of Cork, this village has its own Bird Sanctuary. Perched at the edge of a long sea inlet this friendly tourist village is dominated by the ruins of a 13th century abbey. I also learnt that each year, they celebrate Timoleague Festival where pig racing is one of the most popular activities.

Things to do:

- For all the walkers and water lovers, the closest sea side neighbor Courtmacsherry is ideal. 

- Timoleague Abbey standing picturesquely at the water's edge at the head of long sea inlet.

4) Feeling Mindful in Clonakilty

The Miniature Village

Photo of Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland by Manali

Also known as West Cork Model Village, this is another colorful village that I absolutely loved walking around. It was awarded with the title of European Destinations of Excellence - Best Emerging Rural Tourism Destination 2007. Apart from it being lively and welcoming, I loved this town for its simplicity and embracing the go-slow movement that places quality of life above the clamour of modern living.

Things to do:

- Long strand beach is about 15 minutes from the village and perfect to view the Galley head Lighthouse from. 

- Galley head light house

- Miniature Village also known as Model Village is where you'll see the miniature models of all the villages comprising of West Cork.

- Inchydoney is one of the most popular beaches here and also perfect for surfing in the summer.

5) Cliff walk in Baltimore

And some beautiful views

Photo of Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland by Manali

Baltimore is perfect to view cliffs int he most rugged form. Take a walk from the Baltimore village to the cliffs near the harbor. Start from Dun Na Sead and make your way to the harbor exploring the history of the village. The view of the sparkling sea, the rugged landscape and the west cork mountains is breathtaking from here.

6) Drive to Mizen head

Now thats one hell of a horse ride

Photo of Mizen Head, County Cork, Ireland by Manali

Mizen head was definitely the most epic part of this drive! The road goes to Mizen head signal station which was build to warn the ships about the rocks near the shore and now serves as a very popular destination to visit in Ireland because of the magnificent views of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean.

This is my list of some really amazing villages to explore in West Cork. I will keep updating this page as I explore more!

You can shoot me an email if you need help in planning your Ireland trip!

This blog was originally published on The Inquisitive Robot.