Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear) – The Storytellers’ Island
Cape Clear has an enviable location – right on the cusp of the continental shelf. The entrance to Roaringwater Bay is one of the leading dolphin and whale sighting locations in Europe, and – if the weather’s on your side – a visitor might also catch sight of leatherback turtles, sunfish, and sharks.
The island is also home to Ireland’s only manned bird observatory, which has been maintaining a daily species log since 1959. Located a mere two-minute walk from the ferry beach, the observatory is manned by a resident warden (March to November), and even offers birdwatchers hostel-style accommodation. May and October are high season.
In the summertime, Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear) is festive. Scores of Irish language students energise the island; day-trippers stroll to the lake or the Old Lighthouse; yachts ply in and out of the harbours, and Cape Clear yurts and hostel are bustling with visitors. A storytelling festival brings alive the oral traditions of yore, and outdoors enthusiasts pitch up with kayaks, fishing rods, hiking boots and binoculars. Beneath the seas, scuba divers prowl old wrecks and precipitous reefs.
The island is firmly on the radar of walkers too, many of whom – after a stroll on the pebble beaches or gorse-strewn headlands – will pop into one of the island’s lively pubs. The Cape Clear community speaks both Irish and English, and knows how to spring a music session, light a cosy fire, or spark a friendly chat – visitors are always welcome at their social soirees.
Five Things to Do on Cape Clear
1. Listen to Tall Tales at the Storytelling Festival
The annual Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival each September draws a babble of storytellers from around the world to enthrall audiences on the West Cork Island. See fastnettour.com
3. Enjoy Unrivalled Birdwatching on Cape Clear
Cape Clear Bird Observatory (Tigh na nÉan) was founded in 1959 by a group of four English birdwatchers who recognised the enormous potential Cape Clear Island offered for observing bird migration. Not only is the island in an ideal position for watching passing seabirds, but it also attracts overshooting eastern and western migrating birds. It’s the perfect destination for anyone with a passion for birdwatching. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. +353 (0)28 39181 Website: birdwatchireland.ie
4. Sea Angling & Wildlife Spotting on Unspoilt Waters
Sea angling, birdwatching and whale & dolphin spotting trips are all available from Cape Clear, which is located in one of the foremost international areas for marine wildlife spotting. Contact: +353 (0)28 39182
5. Visit the Fastnet Experience at Cape Clear Museum
The marvelous private museum on Cape Clear contains interpretative exhibition panels that cover island settlement patterns, genealogy, folk and farm history, folklore, place names, education, famine, telegraph and maritime history. The exhibition about the building of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse is also of great interest to visitors, and the extensive records relating to O’Driscoll genealogy are a rich resource. The museum is open daily from June to September and by prior arrangement. To arrange a visit, contact Oifig Eolais / Cape Clear Island Information Bureau, Email: email@example.com Tel. +353 (0)21 39119, Website: capeclearmuseium.ie
For more information on visiting Cape Clear – with links to accommodation and things to do – see capeclearisland.ie
Irish College on Cape Clear
Oileán Chléire is one of the most sought-after places to go to Irish college each summer! Students looking to work on their Irish language skills are able to improve their Irish in a unique setting, immersing themselves in the culture and environment of this Irish-speaking island.
Classes are held each morning with games, leagues, competitions, swimming, treasure hunts, céilís and other fun activities organised in the afternoons and evenings.
There are two Irish language colleges on the island. Find out more here!