Destination Guide: West Cork - The Gloss Magazine

Destination Guide: West Cork

Dotted with inlets, coves and harbours, the West Cork coastline is a dream for coastal fans and those for whom walking, swimming or lazy beach days are integral to any holiday. This is our Fly The Flag Destination Guide To the best of West Cork …

Celebrate an Irish Summer with our Fly The Flag Destination Guides featuring travel tips, restaurant recommendations, luxurious hotel stays and a focus on Irish shops and produce. If you are planning an Irish getaway – scroll and save for your next trip …


Skyros, Schull

Best for: a design-led self-catering stay. Meticulously designed by Irish architect Niall McLaughlin, Skyros is a contemporary masterpiece in Schull, crafted from poured concrete and clad entirely in Kilkenny limestone. Fusing modern architecture with minimalist style, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow the landscape to echo throughout the clean interiors, with stunning south-facing views over beautiful Roaringwater Bay and its collection of islands. Sleeping up to six guests, short breaks are from €2,053 and week-long breaks are from €2,458;

Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Clonakilty

Best for: a luxury beach and spa escape. Just outside Clonakilty, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa sits on a beautiful Blue Flag beach, and lends itself to bracing walks and sea swims, picnics on the headland, which can be prepared by the hotel, as well as whale watching, surfing and kayaking. On site there is a seawater spa (a first in Ireland) which offers a range of thalassotherapy treatments in addition to body and facial rituals by Elemis. The hotel has always championed West Cork and its surroundings and this summer, as part of its 25th anniversary, the hotel has committed to planting 3,000 native Irish trees in the vicinity to support local biodiversity. Currently on offer is a three-night break with breakfast each day, lunch in Dunes Bistro one day and dinner one evening in the Gulfstream Restaurant, priced from €470 per person sharing;

Wild Atlantic Glamping, Bere Island

Best for: water sports enthusiasts. Wild Atlantic Glamping is located at the east end of the island in Ardagh; the project grew out of owner Caitriona Hanley’s love of the island where she spent childhood holidays. There are eight luxury bell tents available to hire, overlooking Bantry Bay, each named after a hidden gem on the island. Popular activities include the Bere Island festival, Heritage Week, summer sailing courses and a water sports club. Wild Atlantic Glamping has teamed up with Bantry Bay Kayaks to offer guided tours, kayak rentals and night time kayaking tours. This season, Caitriona has also teamed up with The Happy Pear for an extended weekend retreat Go Wild with The Happy Pear. Prices for the retreat start at €525 per person sharing. Accommodation, meals, and activities are all included in the price;

Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen

Best for: a lush, pastoral idyll. A stay in Liss Ard Estate, outside Skibbereen in West Cork, is an opportunity to overdose on the sensory from land to sea to sky. The 163-acre estate was planned as a collection of garden rooms: the lakeside walk, the waterfall garden, the woodland garden, the water garden and arboretum and the wildflower meadow. Particularly impressive is The Sky Garden, a massive naked eye observatory, by American land artist James Turrell, which gives the viewer a totally unique opportunity to admire and enjoy the “celestial vault”. Complementing the restful exterior space, the 25 bedrooms are minimal and unpretentious. An overnight stay with breakfast costs €230, based on two people sharing;

Dunmore House, Clonakilty

Best for breezy Atlantic walks along great beaches and beautiful gardens. Dunmore House is part of the West Cork Garden Trail, a collection of 23 gardens open to the public. Dunmore’s garden comprises the Cliff Garden and the Ocean Garden, an organic kitchen garden — that overlook the Atlantic. With polytunnels, extensive outdoor raised bed areas with herbs, seasonal salads and edible flowers, the Dunmore House horticulturist, Sinead, and her team use permaculture principles with a dedicated organic and active composting area using seaweed and other natural manures along with companion planting to increase fertility and to assist with biodiversity. The best thing is seeing how the hotel’s Michelin-recommended Adrift restaurant incorporates the home-grown organic produce into its appealing menus. To sample, an overnight stay costs from €300;


Paula Flynn of and THE GLOSS collated a fabulously diverse and exciting list of independent retailers around Ireland for The Best Shops Ireland and we couldn’t resist featuring some of them in our Irish Destination Guides for the summer. Look no further, here is where to shop in West Cork.

Forest & Flock, 10 New Street, Bantry

Based on the success of the Forest & Flock pop-up shop in 2017, Bernie O’Sullivan found a permanent home for the business the following year. Showcasing Irish arts, crafts, and design, Forest & Flock features the work of more than 70 Irish artists and makers. Also home to a petite coffee bar, Piccolo serving coffee, hot chocolate, and delicious treats.

Kinsale Leather, 46 Main Street, Kinsale 

For Dee Mangan the importance of creating a beautiful environment to showcase her handmade leather bags and accessories was instrumental in her opening her shop. The Irish Accessory Designer of the Year appreciates people that want to know the story behind what they are buying and being in the shop allows Dee to share her process with her customers. @kinsaleleather Photography by Kate Bean.

Arran Street East, Main Street, Schull

Award-winning Dublin pottery and weaving shop/studio Arran Street East is owned by Laura Magahy. It offers a unique first-hand experience in the production of ceramic goods. Customers can view pots being thrown, glazed, and fired, and textile looms in action. This summer Arran Street East opened a creative hub in Cork. The pretty, two-shades of pink shopfront houses a charming outpost that hosts pottery, weaving, and baking workshops. And, of course, there is the full range of Arran Street East’s gorgeous ceramics and textiles. Photography by Zoe Choy O’Byrne in Schull and Matthew Thompson in Dublin.

Michelle Mitton Design Gallery, 28 Pearse Street, Clonakilty

Michelle Mitton Design Gallery is a design-led gift shop in West Cork established by Michelle Mitton in 1999. As well as goods for the home, there are gifts for every occasion and everyone. Rest assured, Michelle understands the finer details of gift giving and the importance of a beautifully presented package. Photography by Dermot Sullivan.


Top tips and hidden gems as recommended by our Food Editor Ciara McQuillan …

Adrift, Dunmore House

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Dunmore House and dining at Adrift on a sunny summer evening is idyllic. Casual dining in The Boatyard Terrace is heavenly on a sunny day but for a Michelin approved meal, Adrift is where you want to be. As you might expect, there is a lot of seafood on the menu, but seasonal dishes such as homemade ricotta with blood orange, toasted pistachio and garden leaves or wild nettle ravioli with garden leek velouté, and parmesan just scream summer. A window table is a must and staff are attentive yet discreet. Plus, I find a family run business to be endearing in every way.

Arundel’s By The Pier, Ahakista

If you happen to make it as far as the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Arundel’s by the Pier in Ahakista is the perfect pit stop for lunch. A summery plate of Castletown Bere crab, lightly dressed with mayonnaise, citrus, chili and coriander and served on brown bread is the epitome of Irish holiday food and nabbing a bench out front will make it taste all the sweeter. The mussels with ‘nduja are also a good choice and a scoop of ice cream is a simple yet effective way to round off a late summer lunch. A word of warning is do check food service times as some days Arundel’s operate on a drinks only basis.

Dede at The Customs House, Baltimore

Still on my Irish dining bucket list is the rock star restaurant that is Dede at The Customs House. Chef Ahmet Dede and his partner Maria Archer are at the helm of this summer’s bucket list leader and if the reservation widget is anything to go by, I am not alone in the desire to visit. Two Michelin stars helps, but dishes like Coolea cheese with pickled onion and honey vinegar that make me misty eyed. One of these days…

Heir Island Cottage, Heir Island, Skibbereen

Boating to lunch feels more Corfu than Cork to me but there is something immensely intriguing about taking a boat to a remote island for lunch, and the coastal West Cork location merely adds to the intrigue. A no choice menu and a set lunch for €20 (plus ferry fare of €6) and this is on certainly on my West Cork list.

The Fish Basket, Long Strand

What started as a food truck for Elaine and Peter Shanahan is now restaurant proper, bricks and mortar included. Prior to setting up The Fish Basket, Elaine worked as a chef and a baker, while Peter worked in the fisheries industry, so really, it was written in the starts that this was where their career paths would take them. Nowadays, you will find the pair at Long Strand Beach where they are open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, coffee and cake. There is fish and chips, mussels, fresh scampi and fish tacos to gorge on and if you are lucky enough to visit on one if the planned Session By The Sea live music events then lucky you.

The recently opened Jacks at Pilgrim’s in Rosscarberry for brunch, Sunday roasts and evening meals from August, and in bohemian Ballydehob, lunch at Bud’s, followed by dinner in Michelin star Restaurant Chestnut sounds good to me. Don’t forget to check out Levis for any food pop ups. It may require you having two lunches in one day, but from all I have heard, it would be worth it.


From the remote, craggy peninsulas of Beara, Sheep’s Head and Mizen, to the soft sands at Barleycove, the area of West Cork has plenty to offer for visitor of all ages. The latter is a great place for a day on the sands, big enough for proper shore-line walks and backed by romantic dunes. Mizen Head has pretty views and an old signalling station, joined to the mainland by a fine old arched bridge, worth the scenic crossing.

Garnish Island

Garnish Island, a short scenic cruise from Glengariff, is renowned for its 15 acres of manicured Italianate gardens, created by former owner architect Annan Bryce with the garden designer Harold Peto in 1910. Inside the garden, visitors will find a Martello Tower, Grecian Temple and Italian Tea House. While adults inspect the rare specimens and abundance of azaleas, roses and rhododendrons, children love the island’s colony of seals;

Galley Head

It’s possible to tick off several iconic lighthouses on a stay in West Cork. Fastnet Lighthouse on Ireland’s most south-westerly point is a must-visit where the Keeper’s House is reached by following the 99 steps over the iconic arched bridge to the Mizen Signal Station (watch out for basking sharks and humpback whales along the way). Galley Head Lighthouse, outside Clonakilty, sits at the headland of Dundeady Island. At the time of its construction in 1875 it featured the world’s strongest lighthouse rays. In 1915, the lightkeepers observed the sinking of the Lusitania after it was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale. It’s also possible to stay in the Galley Head Lightkeeper’s House, one of many that can be booked via Irish Landmark Trust. Stays are from €568 for two nights;

West Cork In A Nutshell: Style editor (and regular visitor) Aislinn Coffey’s recommendations:

Eat: The Black Pig Kinsale for the best gourmet tapas and its extensive wine list;
Drink: The Bulman Bar & Restaurant, Kinsale. Situated next to Charles Fort, it’s an institution with breathtaking views of harbour and has a smart restaurant to boot;
Coffee: Drip coffee truck on Warren Strand, Rosscarberry has just opened a bricks and mortar store this week. It’s a must for extraordinarily good gourmet sweet bites: @drip_at_the_warren.
Shop: The Old Mill Stores, Leap. This design-led eclectic home gifting and accessories shop has a unique aesthetic;

If you visit any of these spots on your next trip to Connemara, Co Galway, be sure to let us know! Tag us on Instagram using #FlyTheFlag and @theglossmag. Or email us on, we would love to hear from you …

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