West Cork Stone Symposium (24th-26th March 2017)

West Cork Stone Symposium - Image Valerie O'Sullivan

The West Cork Stone Symposium celebrates stone as part of our environment, and as a source of inspiration throughout the ages

Come to the symposium on the Sheep’s Head peninsula, and be inspired by a rugged coastline that’s home to Ireland’s most creative communities. The peninsula is one of three West Cork peninsulas that jut into the Atlantic on Ireland’s southwest shores. Just an hour from Cork airport, you’ll find yourself standing on the edge of Europe learning traditional craft skills that have been passed down through the generations.

Discover how stone has shaped our lives and imaginations on this beautiful stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. And unleash your own creativity as you learn from stone masons, carvers, and sculptors whose work carries ancient traditions into the future.

For generations, artists, makers, producers, and dreamers have been inspired by the stone that forms our peninsulas, islands, rolling hills, and valleys. Stone tells a story that unlocks the flavours, textures, landscapes, and creativity of our Wild Atlantic shoreline.

A Packed Creative Programme

Our packed programme includes dry stone walling workshops, stone carving workshops, guided tours, exhibitions and more on West Cork’s Sheep’s Head peninsula – a European Destination of Excellence.

You’ll have the chance to learn from the experts, and to watch demonstrations of old skills like toolmaking throughout the weekend. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or experienced in working with stone, you’ll be welcome to join in a weekend which will celebrate the best of traditional Irish crafts.

Find out more about the festival programme, great places to stay and more

Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark awarded new UNESCO designation

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark has been designated as a UNESCO site following a vote at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris in November 2015.

Blue Main Logo

The designation means that the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, along with Ireland’s two other Geoparks the Copper Coast Geopark and Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, is now a UNESCO Global Geopark and is now at the same level as other UNESCO designated sites such as Newgrange and the Giant’s Causeway.

For more information on the unique landscape see: Burren Geopark >>

Sheep’s Head Named as Destination of the Year

Walking the Sheep's Head Way

West Cork’s Sheep’s Head peninsula has been named as ‘Destination of the Year’ by the prestigious John and Sally McKenna Guides.

The McKennas – authors of the hugely successful Where to Eat and Stay On the Wild Atlantic Way Guide – have established themselves as experts on the food and experiences on offer along the popular Wild Atlantic Way touring route.

For 2015, the McKennas have singled out the Sheep’s Head peninsula as a must-see destination and praise the great food on offer along the Sheep’s Head Way, as well as the quality of the activity tourism on offer in the area.
“With a clutch of excellent places to stay and eat, the Sheep’s Head is recognised as a great destination that offers unparalleled walking experiences,” explain the McKennas.

The Sheep’s Head – designated as a European Destination of Excellence for Sustainable Tourism in 2009 – is home to a world-renowned 88km coastal walking route. Hikers, cyclists and sailors from across the world are drawn to this genuinely unspoilt and peaceful peninsula which sits between its better-known neighbours – the Mizen and the Beara peninsulas – offering fantastic views over Dunmanus and Bantry Bays as well as the West Cork islands.

While the Sheep’s Head has traditionally been the least-visited of the three West Cork peninsulas, in recent years it has developed a great reputation with foodies who are drawn to the area by local delicacies like Durrus Cheese, Bantry Bay mussels, and Glenilen butters and yoghurts, all produced along the walking route which reaches from the tip of the Sheep’s Head peninsula to Gougane Barra.

Great restaurants like Good Things Café and Blairscove House are also attracting visitors to the area, with Blairscove securing Georgina Campbell’s award for Outstanding Visitor Experience for 2015.

A growth in tourism along the Sheep’s Head Way, fuelled by the Wild Atlantic Way’s success, is also helping new businesses to flourish, and 2014 saw the rebirth of Kilcrohane Creamery as a home to both a restaurant focused on local food, and the Sheep’s Head Producers’ market and shop.

“The McKennas’ selection of the Sheep’s Head as their destination of the year is a great tribute to the community here, and to the thoughtful way tourism has been developed in our area”, says Siobhán Burke of the Sheep’s Head & Bantry Tourism Co-operative.

“Businesses all along the Sheep’s Head Way are working together to create fantastic experiences for visitors, while preserving the wonderful environment we’re blessed with. It’s wonderful to see that those efforts are being rewarded.”

“The Wild Atlantic Way has been a welcome boost, helping to draw visitors out to areas like ours,” adds John Tobin, chair of the tourism co-op. “An award like this shows that communities along the Western seaboard can really benefit from that boost when they celebrate what makes them unique.”

Find out more at

Contact: Siobhán Burke – Tel. 086 303 0991

Learn Letter-Carving on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula

Letter-Cutting Weekend

Visit West Cork to enjoy a creative holiday on the stunning Sheep’s Head peninsula. Victor Daly – a sculptor and carver with over 20 years of experience – will teach you to carve letters in stone using traditional tools and skills passed down from generation to generation.

During your workshop, Victor will introduce you to the tools and basic techniques you’ll need to cut classical and contemporary letters in stone. Tools and materials will be provided, and you’ll work to complete a small letter-carving project which you can easily take home with you.

The weekend includes accommodation in the immaculate surroundings of Gallán Mor, a boutique 4-star B&B offering stunning views over Dunmanus Bay. Lorna and Noel will offer you a warm welcome, complimentary home-baking, and rooms with views over the bay and the peninsula’s mountain peaks.

Gallán Mór is within easy reach of the historic town of Bantry and beautiful Bantry House. There’s plenty to explore on the Sheep’s Head peninsula too. Visit Durrus Cheese dairy, Dunbeacon Pottery, Cronin’s Forge and the area’s historic landmarks before you retreat to the comfort of the B&B’s cosy four-poster beds.

Gallan Mór

Captivating sea views, sleek interiors, lovely food – and an affable pair who run the place with Irish charm and Caribbean sparkle. (Alastair Sawday, Special Places to Stay in Ireland)

The area is home to the famous Sheep’s Head Way walking and cycling routes, and you’ll have time to explore the landscape, and sample West Cork’s food and hospitality during your stay. If you are travelling in a couple and only one person opts to take the letter-carving workshop, we can help you to plan alternative activities, including a cheese-making workshop (available Tues-Thurs only).

Book your holiday today, and start looking forward to your holiday in West Cork.

One-day Letter-Carving Workshop & Two Nights B&B Accommodation:

€260 (per person, room-sharing). Gallán Mór is located 1.25 hours’ drive from Cork Airport. Transfers can be arranged.

UK airports with flights to Cork Airport include:
Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Heathrow and London Stansted.
European airports with flights to Cork include:
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva, Girona, Lisbon, Milan, Munich, Nice, Paris and Warsaw.

Contact Lorna Bourke to arrange a booking for dates to suit you.
+353 (0)27 62732
+353 (0)85 1707214

Find out more about the Sheep’s Head peninsula at

Walk in St Finbarr’s Footsteps on Pilgrim Paths Day

Pilgrim Path's Walkers

Over this Easter weekend (19th-20th April), a band of modern pilgrims will be tracing St. Finbarr’s footsteps in West Cork, walking from Drimoleague to Gougane Barra, as part of a national bid to have walkers take to Ireland’s 15 pilgrim paths on the same day.

The group will take up Finbarr’s route at ‘the Top of the Rock’ in Drimoleague, where Finbarr instructed people to return to Christ before beginning his own journey over three mountain systems and four valleys to the spot where he established his hermitage, now the site of the chapel on the lake at Gougane Barra.

Pilgrimage is, of course, one of the oldest forms of travel, and the popularity of camino walks elsewhere has led to their revival in Ireland too. In 2008, the practice of walking St. Finbarr’s ancient route was revived, and the walk he took now forms an extension to the much-loved Sheep’s Head Way walking route.

Modern walkers following St. Finbarr’s path enjoy the changing terrains and spectacular views available on the 22-mile (35km) route. Join the Pilgrim Path’s event this Easter, and you’ll travel through and over the Ilen, Mealagh, Ouvane and Lee valley basins, taking in spectacular views over Bantry Bay and stretches of the West Cork coastline.

A rich archaeological landscape is combined with interesting folklore on a route that passes historic Carriganass Castle, stone circles and other ancient monuments before reaching its destination.

David Ross of West Cork Walking runs the Top of the Rock Walking Centre and – as the leader of the guided walk – he believes that the spiritual aspects of the walk are often the most rewarding for people who follow St. Finbarr’s Way: ‘The questions that arise as we walk are fascinating’, explains David.

‘What motivated Finbarr to bring the good news of Christ to these places? What message did he bring that eclipsed the prevailing darkness which he challenged? And why is there an unusual sense of peace and restfulness in the beautiful island where he held retreat?’

‘The contemplation, the seeking and the finding, the camaraderie of other “pilgrims” and the pains and aches at day’s end… All these will make St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way a special experience for anyone who joins us this Easter’, says David.

To book your place on the guided walk, see the event webpage, or contact

It’s not every day you meet a Leprechaun Whisperer

It’s not every day you meet a Leprechaun Whisperer. And I thought it would be hard to suppress cynical smirks when I did, but when Kevin Woods of Carlingford, County Louth shook my hand firmly, looked me in the eye and gave me one of those smiles which emitted instant kindness and warmth, I could only mirror this and show respect and openness back.

As Kevin (or McCoillte as he is sometimes called) and I walked up Slieve Foye mountain together, I found myself wanting to believe that this was, as he told me, “the only place in Ireland where Leprechauns live”, not just because the affable Kevin has seen three Leprechauns in his life on this mountain but because this is, for me, one of the most magical spots in my home country of Ireland. Located right on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the Cooley Mountain range on the southern side of Carlingford Lough looking straight out over this dividing piece of water to the Mountains of Mourne in the North, an invisible border going with the flow between them, this small town holds a wealth of natural and cultural heritage in its pocket. Any sense of divide is hidden here and long may it continue – starting with my respect for Kevin’s beliefs in Leprechauns.

Leprechauns don’t appear to everyone, according to Kevin, and indeed he shared many people’s cynicism twenty odd years ago when local publican PJ O’Hare found a small suit and collection of tiny bones up on the mountain, as well as a few gold coins. Doubting their origin, Wood decided to make the most of the ‘find’ and organised a Leprechaun Hunt in his capacity as Regional Tourism Chairman at the time. It worked and the hunters came in hoardes but, as if to warn him that there were too many people on the mountain, the Leprechauns then appeared to Kevin on a walk in the hills one day.

I asked Kevin what they looked like as we continued our hike up along the Slieve Foye Loop. “They look just as you might imagine them – like in the cartoons really. That is how they appear to me, because they are spirits. They are about 18 inches tall, have top hats, green jackets, trousers and shoes which are pointed or round and always with gold buckles. They were cobblers because they spent so much time dancing, and so they wear out their shoes – which is why they became cobblers’.

Kevin certainly had the gift of storytelling as we continued up further into the Cooley Mountain range, a landscape where myths abound. Myths which tell of Greek-like transformations from human to animal form such as Donn Cúailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley,  a human who had been turned into a bull and which then went on to become the focus of battles between Ulster and Connaught led by Queen Medb in these very mountains.

“I can see some sheep or goats grazing up there on the heathland “I said, soon to be corrected by Kevin who told me, quite nonchalantly, “One of those is the Ghost Horse of Mountain Park. There was a fella called Cocker Reilly – he was known as that because he was cock sure of everything. He used to come up by this part of the Mountain Park, passing a fairy mound every night. One night he relieved himself close to the fairy mound. When he woke up in the morning he couldn’t get out of bed, as he had two extra legs. They (the fairies) had turned him into a horse. He took off up into the hills and that’s who you can see there. You’ll often see him up there. ”

Kevin told these stories in such a matter of fact way that I just wanted to believe him. And so by the time we approached the Slate Rock, a massive ramp of granite which emerges from the hillside, and the place where he first saw the Leprechauns, I asked him if he thinks I will see them.  “It’s up to you, if you have the gift”, he said, “I am not sure whether you have the gift or not’. So, keeping my eyes and mind well open, Kevin went on to tell me more about his gift, which allows him not only to communicate with the Leprechaun’s chief elder, Corrig, learn about their history and lifestyles, but also brings him the ability to bring happiness to others and be happy for the rest of his life.

One thing that makes me happy, however, is that Kevin spent nineteen years campaigning for this part of the Slieve Foye Mountain to be officially protected by the European Union, under the EU Habitats Directive to protect flora, fauna and wild animals. He won and in 2009, they received protection, with big brown EU signs up on the hill to prove it. I asked him how he managed to persuade the EU to protect something that was not actually in the physical world, and he said that the artefacts of the clothes and bones were proof enough.

As well as that,  the Leprechaun Hunt still happens in April every year which is “not to make money”, Kevin tells me, “but because for every person who stops believing, another Leprechaun spirit dies and so the Hunt increases the likelihood of more people believing.” (For more details see As we headed back down the mountain towards Carlingford  town, with sadly no Leprechaun sightings to record this time, and headed for a drink in O’Hares, I couldn’t help wondering if I would be laughed at in the pub as they saw me walking in with Kevin, knowing that another tourist was ‘being had’. But no, we were met with joviality rather than jeers and welcomed in to this lovely local gathering spot. This gift of spreading happiness must be working, I thought to myself. I may have been tricked, or I might not have the gift, but there are few belief systems which make me smile as much as this one. And if Kevin’s gift is to continue spreading the word and happiness with it, who am I to argue? And anyway,  I don’t want a dead Leprechaun on my conscience. To be sure, to be sure.

Catherine cycling on Carlingford Lough near Greenore Photo Shay Larkin

For more information on The Last Leprechauns in Ireland, see And click here for a podcast of Catherine’s walk and talk with the Leprechaun Whisperer. Or to go exploring the hiking trails of the Cooley Mountains see and In particular, check out The Tain Walking Festival 1-3 March 2103( and

The Great Western Greenway by Catherine Mack

Escape the bustle of urban life on the longest cycling experience in Ireland. Catherine Mack saddles up with her family in tow.

The entire article can be found at The Green Parent website.

The Green Parent is the UK’s leading green lifestyle and natural parenting magazine. A truly inspiring read, TGP is like nothing else on the newsstand, with insightful intelligent journalism covering topics from babywearing and attachment parenting to home-education and alternative medicine. Each issue features regular columns on Organic Gardening, Seasonal Food and Drink, Green Travel, Ethical Fashion and lots more. The magazine is produced by a small team of passionate experts who live and breathe the positive message of the magazine.

Also view the following pdf links to read the full article:

Carlingford Adventure Centre Fantastic 2 for 1 Deal over Easter

Carlingford Adventure Centre Fantastic 2 for 1 Deal over Easter
Sunday March 24th to Sunday 7th April

Carlingford Adventure Centre, Carlingford

Carlingford Adventure Centre, CarlingfordEscape to Carlingford Adventure Centre Ireland for an Easter Adventure Holiday your family will not forget!

Spend quality time together that won’t break the budget. Carlingford Adventure Centre offer fun adventure holidays for children ages 6 and up!

An amazing range of outdoor activities are offered daily, Pier Jumping, Kayaking, Laser Combat, Crystal Maze, High Ropes Course and many more….But it’s up to you – do as little or as much as you like!

Whether you want to take part as a family or leave the kids to it with our capable instructors, we have packages to suit all tastes and all ages.

Fantastic 2 for 1 Deal over Easter, activities starting at €29pp
5 Night Easter Family Self Catering Package…€544
2 for 1 on Kids Camp during Easter Holidays

Arrive Sunday, Depart Friday for a 5 night self catering break in any of our Holiday Homes.
For more information please visit the Carlingford Adventure Centre website Here
For the full list of activities at Carlingford Adventure Centre click Here

Carrigaholt Dolphin & Nature Festival – June 1st & 2nd, 2013

Calling all Nature Lovers!! Carrigaholt is at the heart of the Loop Head Peninsula’s Special Area of Conservation. We want to share with you the abundance of wildlife here through fun & educational activities, including dolphin watching boat trips, wildflower & heritage walks, seashore workshops, films, music, puppetry & pageants. Carrigaholt is situated on the Loop Head Peninsula in West Clare at the mouth of the mighty River Shannon and is home to about 140 individual bottlenose dolphins that have calves each year. The spectacular wild Atlantic cliffs are covered in wildflowers and thousands of nesting seabirds come here to raise their young. We want to share all of this with you! And especially any of the McMahon Clan out there – our 15th century McMahon castle will bring you back in time to your ancestral seat.

Carlingford Lough car ferry could bring €10m boost

A CROSS-border car ferry linking Down and Louth could provide a €10m a year boost for the counties, a study has predicted.

The service, from Greencastle in the North across Carlingford Lough to Greenore in the Republic, would create 24 direct jobs and 300 additional jobs in the wider area, according to consultants.

The research was commissioned by the private-sector backers behind the €8m project.

The route, close to the mouth of the lough, could be operating before the planned Narrow Water bridge is opened.

The Carlingford Ferries consortium behind the project is made up of three families from Limerick and Clare with previous experience in the car ferry industry in the Shannon region.

Complementing the bridge, the investors believe it would create a circular tourism route between the Mourne region and the Cooley Peninsula.

The developers also commissioned an environmental impact assessment and engaged with local communities.

They hope to submit proposals to the planning authorities with the aim of getting the service running within 12 months.

Article written by David Young, Irish Independent


Greenore to Greencastle Car Ferry plans

The Burren, The Fertile Rock

Cavan Town

Mulranny & The Great Western Greenway

Loop Head Peninsula

Sheep's Head Peninsula

Carlingford & The Cooley Peninsula

Clonakilty District, West Cork