My trip to Cape Clear Island involved an 8 mile ferry ride from the charming small coastal town of Baltimore in West County Cork, in the South West of Ireland.
There are also at least seven towns in USA called Baltimore. I wonder how many inhabitants of those towns have any idea what it means. I used to assume it meant big town, from the Gaelic (Irish language). Baile means town and mór means big. But I recently looked it up and apparently it means town of the big house. Baile (town) + Tí or Tigh (house) + Mór (big). So, Baltimore is an anglicisation of the Irish name Baile Tí Mór = town of the big house. The big house seen in the top of this photo above is Baltimore Castle, originally built in 1215.
Just hanging about, waiting for the ferry.
On the ferry out of Baltimore Harbour one can see the Beacon. It was constructed in 1884 and marks the headland of the strait between Sherkin Island and the mainland at the entrance to Baltimore harbour.
Approaching Cape Clear Island.
These photos were taken from the boat.
Approaching the Island’s North Harbour.
Just next to the harbour is this old ruin, St. Kieran’s Church, dating from about the 12th century.
At the harbour there is a tourist information centre, cafe, pub, heritage centre/museum, all of which were closed, due to the covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time. A map outside the tourist info centre would have been useful, but there was none. Food and tea/coffee were available from a kiosk, where the woman serving was run off her feet with the visitors from the ferries.
Nothing to do here on this 3 x 1 mile island but walk, nothing wrong with that on a beautiful sunny day. Of course I took the usual hundreds of photos on this walk around the roads of the island, which is very hilly, up and down, up and down… and very short of signposts.
The sight of old ruined stone cottages is a common one all over ireland. Over the years, particularly the past two centuries, people have left their homes and many emigrated for a variety of reasons, mostly because of poverty, famine, eviction etc. Some, in better times, simply built a new house nearby and let the old one decay.
Cork has many islands but only about 7 of them are inhabited.
There are about 100+ inhabitants on this island, although pre-famine (mid 19th century) there were over 1000. They would like to attract more people there now, particularly young families. If I were younger I’d give it some thought!
Capr Clear is a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) island.
Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. This is the closest I could get to it. There is a ferry trip from Baltimore that goes to the lighthouse, as well as calling at Cape Clear Island. I would really love to have done that trip, but due to my propensity for sea-sickness, I had to give it a miss. But now that I’ve seen the boats (they’re quite big and stable) I think I should do it next time.
The island’s South Harbour, above.
The old lighthouse and signal station unused since 1854, when the first Fastnet Lighthouse was built.
The lighthouse is in amazingly good condition, with its precision cut granite block construction.
I suspect these harbours would normally be much busier. Covid-19 has taken its toll on tourism and marine leisure activities.
Glamping has come to Cape Clear; there are some yurts for holiday rental.
Time to return to the mainland.
Leaving Cape Clear Island.
Back at Baltimore. A gorse/heather fire was on the hill, creating a lot of smoke. Farmers burn the gorse and heather to create more grazing land. Don’t know why they don’t use goats.
Baltimore Harbour, with the big house, or castle, overlooking the harbour.
I was going to split these photos into two separate posts, but I decided to put them all together. Thank you for your patience if you have reached the end. I hope you enjoyed the trip to Cape Clear with me. Thanks so much for viewing my post.
More West Cork photos on my website: https://www.helene-brennan.com/c865-west-cork