Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear) is known as 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, you 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.
Great 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 capeclearstorytelling.com for details.
2. Tour the Fastnet Rock
The Fastnet Rock Tour day trip will bring you first to the Fastnet Exhibition and multimedia display in the Cape Clear & Fastnet Rock Heritage Centre. This will allow time to see the Fastnet Rock memorials on Cape Clear Island and to view the rock from the island itself. The tour later circumnavigates the rock to view it from all sides at close quarters.
For more information, about this exhilarating tour, click 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. They 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 Steve for more information – 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 Michael at +353 (0)28 39182 or by email email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. +353 (0)21 39119, Website: capeclearmuseium.ie
6. Explore the National Loop Walks on Cape Clear’s Landscape
Cnoicín’s Loop and the Gleann Loop are the island’s two official walking trails and well worth a few hours out. Cnoicín’s Loop is great for families while the Gleann Loop is a bigger challenge and offers a longer hike. Both offer spectacular views of the coastline and the wild Atlantic.
7. Visit Chleire Goats
Cape Clear Goat Farm was established in 1979. Why not visit to pet the goats, and try the farm’s amazing goats cheese and goat-milk ice cream! Give Ed a call and let him know you’ll be stopping by! +353 (0)87 797 3056
Mara Farm is a Heritage Farm run by Fiona Mac Lachlann. The farm is home to all kinds of interesting animals like Kerry-Bog ponies and Tamworth pigs (said to be the closest breed to Ireland’s now extinct native pigs). Fiona has a farm shop and cafe and serves delicious home baking and things like spiced beef on homemade soda bread. The farm has seasonal opening hours so give a call beforehand to double check: +353 (0)28-39121
For more information on visiting Cape Clear – with links to accommodation and things to do – see capeclearisland.ie
Irish College on Cape Clear
Coláiste Pobial Chléire is one of the most sought-after places to go to Irish college each summer! Cape Clear offers a unique setting for students to study; not only is it an Irish-speaking area in which the language is still very much alive, it is also an island! This provides students with a whole series of after-school adventure opportunities and a safe environment in which to learn.
Classes are held each morning with games, leagues, competitions, swimming, treasure hunts, and céilís. Other fun activities are organised in the afternoons and evenings.
There are two Irish language colleges on the island. Find out more here!