Cape Clear Island
The small heritage centre has exhibits on the island’s history and culture, and fine views north across the water to Mizen Head.
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The pretty harbour is dominated by the remains of the Dun na Sead . Inside are seasonal art displays, but the best way to appreciate this 13th-century survivor is from a distance.
The Republic’s only planetarium, the Schull Planetarium, on the grounds of Schull Community College, has an 8m dome and a video and slide show. It was founded by a German visitor who was charmed by the town. A 45-minute star show starts at 4pm or 8pm during the rather complex opening hours; call to confirm times.
You can see photos of Fastnet Lighthouse under oceanic assault at Tom Newman Photography in Schull.
Constructed on the site of the town’s old gasworks, the Skibbereen Heritage Centre houses a haunting exhibition about the Famine, with actors reading heartbreaking contemporary accounts. A visit here puts Irish history into harrowing perspective. There’s also a smaller exhibition about nearby Lough Hyne, the first marine nature reserve in Ireland, and a genealogical centre.
Travel a world of plants at Kilravock Garden , which has been transformed over two decades from a field of scrag and stone to a feast of exotic plants by one green-fingered couple.
The castle, sitting imposingly on the waterfront, is a rocky fantasy. Huge mullioned windows obviate any authenticity of the decorative defensive touches. The seven guest rooms range from one with an old four-poster, where you can play ‘royal and consort’ games, to small but bright rooms, some with terraces and views.
Clonakilty to Skibbereen
On an exposed hillside, with fields sweeping away towards the coast and bothered cattle braying in the distance, the Drombeg Stone Circle is superbly atmospheric. Its 17 uprights once guarded the cremated bones of an adolescent, discovered during a 1960s excavation.