I had recently watched a documentary with John Creedon on Dursey Island and can honestly say that I was not aware that anywhere in Ireland had a cable car! So of course me and Ali made a plan that our next free Sunday we would take a Galavant over to West Cork to check it out.
Dursey is a two hour drive from Cork city. The drive itself from Cork is pretty amazing driving through pretty little towns like Dunmanway, Bantry, Glengarriff and Castletownbere. The weather was not on our side on this particular Sunday but that didn’t deter us. On driving into Castletownbere you drive straight through the town and follow the signs for Dursey Island. The road is pretty windy from here but the scenery is pretty spectacular! There’s a buddist meditation centre out this road also. So if you feel the need to get away from it all its in the perfect spot! Right in the middle of nowhere!
On driving down the cliff road when we got our first glance of the Island you can really see why its called the Wild Atlantic Way. The landscape is rugged and beautiful and completely untouched down this end of the Country. I think the wind and rain made it even more wild looking!
We pulled up at the car park just as the cable car was rolling back to the mainland and walked up the hill to get our tickets. Its €8 per adult for the trip over and back to Dursey Island. We got out tickets from a lovely man at the hatch just as 6 very confident looking tourists got out of the cable car. We were the only two waiting so made our way over to get on. The minute I stepped into the wooden car the entire thing shifted to one side (I’m not a skinny girl but this did instill some panic in me) and I told Ali to get in quick to balance it out. We closed the doors and we were off!
As you know from previous blogs Ali is not confident with water- especially heights over water. But it was my turn to freak out! I’m not saying it was unstable or anything but it was very high up! I soon relaxed though and took in the breathtaking views of Dursey Sound (the stretch of water between the Island and the mainland) and before we knew it we were on the Island! The trip over only takes around 7 minutes but it was a very exciting (and slightly petrifying) 7 minutes.
There seemed to be a little shop in the back of a van when we got to the other side but alas it wasn’t open on that particular day. There was also some information on a miniture exhibition that was on the Island also. The Island is 6.5 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide. So perfect for a trek around on a good or even semi good day.
We started our walk and quickly came across a little harbour that looked some what abandoned but there were some beautiful boats down here and lobster boxes. The other thing to know about Dursey Island is that it is full of sheep! In other words- don’t wear shoes that don’t like sheep poo! We cut cross country then and made our way over to the ruins of an old Church. Monks from the Skellig rock are said to have founded Kilmichael Church. It has a stunning location looking out over the Atlantic. There’s a little information board here to give you some of the history of the Island.
We made our way back up to the main road then to continue our walk around the Island. We soon come across civilization and the farm yards and houses came into view. Dursey Island has a full time population of 6 people. Many other people have their holiday homes here also and you can see why! Apart from the tourists and sheep this place is so peaceful.
The Signal Tower can be found on the west of the Island and has amazing views out over the Atlantic. Unfortunately the wind and rain turned us back at this stage (and the fear that the cable car would leave us stranded) and we headed back down the road.
There are no shops or pubs (even though I could have done with a quick glass of wine to pluck up the courage to get back into the cable car!) on the Island and I would advise you to bring a bottle of water and a snack or a sandwich. It is possible to camp on the Island also- you just need to check with the farmers as to where is the best spot to pitch your tent. Dursey apparently is famous for its sunsets so we will definitely be back over the sound for a proper trek around the Island.
This spot is a must see on your trip to west Cork. It is off the beaten track a little bit but it is definitely worth it! Dursey Island is part of the Beara Penninsula also and there are countless numbers of trails and treks around here. We spotted lots of brave trekkers making their way across the cliffs when we got back to the mainland.
On leaving the road that brings you down to Dursey Island you can take a left turn out towards the coastal town of Allilhies. This town is famous for its copper mines and has some stunning scenery across the Atlantic also. I would leave yourself a good two or three days to discover the entire Penninsula. Highlights include Dursey Island, Bere Island, Castletownbere, Allihies, Eyeries and the Healy pass!
On our way back to Cork we stopped in the pretty little coastal towns of Castletownbere and Glengarriff. You can get boats from both these towns out to Bere Island and Garnish Island respectively! The towns themselves are lovely to walk around or to get a bite to eat.
I have attached a few links below that you might find useful if you decide to take a trip. As always feel free to add any must see spots that we missed along the way. Till next time- Happy Galavanting!