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

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

Sailing Around Eden!

Wild Atlantic Way Cruise - Sailing Around Eden

Sail around the Sheep’s Head peninsula on a Wild Atlantic Way Cruise that introduces you to the coastline and pristine waters of the Sheep’s Head peninsula in West Cork, Ireland.

EDEN - European Destinations of ExcellenceThe Sheep’s Head is one of three peninsulas that jut out into the north Atlantic on Ireland’s southwesterly coastline. Here, on the very edge of Europe, you’ll get a sense of why the Sheep’s Head on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has been designated as a European Destination of Excellence.

From Bay To Bay

The Sheep’s Head is flanked on either side by the Mizen and Beara peninsulas, and by Dunmanus and Bantry bays. You’ll start your tour in Ahakista on the Sheep’s Head. We’ll set sail through Dunmanus Bay, and watch the coastlines of the Sheep’s Head and Mizen peninsulas unfold alongside us. As we head towards the Atlantic, we’ll share with you stories about the people who have made this remote landscape home over several thousand years.

Bantry Bay, bordered by the Sheep’s Head and Beara peninsulas, is one of the deepest natural harbours in Europe. The drama of this bay, which can be as flat as glass or angry enough to repel an invading fleet, is something to experience. The majestic outlines of Hungry Hill and the Sugarloaf stand over the bay. The hills transform the sea, the wind and the quality of the light in ways that our visiting sailors are always amazed by.

Carbery Sailing's yacht Merlin at Anchor - Sailing Around Eden!

We’ll also explore Roaringwater Bay, named for the sound of the waves that, powered by Atlantic gales, crash against its many rocks and 100 islands. No better place to experience the Wild Atlantic Way! For all its drama, the climate here, influenced by the Gulf Stream, is mild. As we sail, look out for the harbour porpoises, dolphins and whales who make this bay their home. You’ll need your camera ready throughout the trip to capture images of local dolphins, minke whales, sunfish and leatherback sea turtles.

You’ll encounter three magnificent bays on Carbery Sailing’s Wild Atlantic Way Cruise. We’ll also chart our course past West Cork’s 7 inhabited islands. Spend time with their unique communities and experience the stunning natural habitats on Sherkin in Roaringwater Bay and Bere island in Bantry Bay during your sailing trip.

When we return to Ahakista on the Sheep’s Head peninsula to end our voyage, you’ll have a real sense that you’ve experienced a little bit of Eden, right here in West Cork!


Our Wild Atlantic Way Cruises start from €290 (per person, cabin-sharing).
Board and all food is included, and you’ll get to sample the best local produce while you spend time on our luxury Hallberg Rassy yacht.


Either choose a scheduled Wild Atlantic Way Cruise, or contact Chris Forker to arrange a booking for dates to suit you.
Tel: +353 (0)27 29101
Mobile: +353 (0)852 256901

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

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