Welcome to the site

Welcome or ‘Failte Romhat’ as we say on Cape Clear Island.

About Cape Clear Island

Cape Clear Island is  a small inhabited Gaeltacht island off the coast of West Cork, especially well known for its bird sightings, its unusual flora and fauna, and its unspoiled landscape.

Around 150 people live on the island permanently, and this can double or treble in the summer months with visitors.

Cape Clear Island is serviced by an all year round ferry (via Baltimore), extra ferries during the summer months (via Baltimore and Schull). There is also public transport on Cape Clear Island.

Where Is It and Why Go There?

birdwatcher took this on a day trip to Cape Clear Island, thought it was nice.

Cape Clear Island (Oileán Chléire) is the most southern point of Ireland, being a small inhabited Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) island off the coast of West Cork.  It lies eight miles out to sea and is three miles long by 1.5 miles wide.

Despite its size, Cape Clear is an island of extraordinary character and history.  There are a multitude of reasons to take a holiday on the Island.  Cape Clear Island is also developed enough to provide proper infrastructure for inhabitants without over-development.

There is a standing population on Cape Clear Island of about 150 people, but in the summer this can bloom to about 500 people with Gaeltacht students and other tourists.

It should be noted that Cape Clear Island is very busy during the summer, and very quiet in the winter.

Infrastructure and Services on Cape Clear

Cape Clear Island is a fully functioning community and so has a decent infrastructure to make Island life easier.
To that end there is:
  • Shops, incl Grocery & Newsagent
  • Pub(s with daily food and regular music)
  • A church (Services on Sundays)
  • A bus service
  • A daily ferry service to the mainland
  • a Nurse service, living on the Island
Cape Clear Holiday Home

Cape Clear North Harbour

Historic & Significant Cape Clear Features

Cape Clear is historically significant.  Found amongst the wild heather, gorse and fields is evidence of life on the island going back around 5000 years with a confirmed passage grave on the island.

Other significant buildings include the ruins of a 12th century church and the remains of a 14th century castle (Clann Ó Drisceoil).

The Island has also a very well deserved reputation as one of the most important bird observation points in the Europe as the geography, remoteness and climate combined to give a unique mix of bird variety on the island.  Many birdwatchers get distracted by the multiple annual sightings of whales, sharks, dolphins and turtles around the island.

Check out the multitude of things to do on the Island.

Things to Do on Cape Clear Island

There are always plenty of things to do when staying at a Cape Clear Holiday Home.  

Fun for all the family, from swimming to traditional music, its all available during the holiday season (lets be honest, you have to be tough to swim in the sea when its not summer) 🙂 .

There is no way to tell you about everything, heres a taster of what is available.


Museum and Heritage Centre

Despite its size, Cape Clear is a very active little island, and has its own Heritage Centre.  The Heritage Centre includes a museum, exhibition area and archive.

The Museum and Heritage Centre is open daily, June to September and thereafter by arrangement locally with the Visitor Information Bureau, Library and island Co-op Office.

Island Tours by minibus and boat hire trip can also be arranged.

Lankford Cape Clear Island Museum Archive

An archive of Cape Clear Island related materials is available from September 2016, and will be surely fascinating.

For more information click here

Irish Language Courses on Cape Clear

Youth Courses (upto 18 years)

Coláiste Phobal Chléire runs several summer courses to teach Irish to younger students.  This is very beneficial to their understanding of the language, and increases their ability to tackle state examinations. By promoting a positive approach to the language and having fun filled lessons, the courses greatly promote the learning process.

Different courses focus on different age groups, so if interested make sure you book in plenty of time, and pick the course that s suitable for you (or your kids). Broadly speaking the age group is between 12 and 18.

There is even a Leaving Cert preparation course for those interested.

For full details, check out this link: http://www.colaistephobalchleire.ie/Menu2

Adult Courses (over 18 years)

Ionad Foghlama Chléire provides language courses throughout the year for adult interested in the culture and language or Ireland and can be a mix of lecture and practical usage (learning through activities).

For full details, check out this link:  http://www.gaelsaoire.ie/default.aspx?treeid=256

Bird Watching & Wildlife Appreciation

hello 681x454The Cape Clear Bird Observatory is Irelands only manned station as it copes with Cape Clear Islands famous bird population.  A combination of weather and geography has created a ‘hot spot’ of a huge variety of birds.  Many of the birds spotted on Cape Clear are rare to this part of the world.  A list of all of the varieties of birds spotted on the Island can be found here.  If you are lucky enough to be on the Island when a rare bird is seen, prepare for the invasion of the ‘twitchers’ who will come from all parts to see the sight.
If you are interested in Bird Watching, there is no better location than Cape Clear, and the locals and the Observatory staff are all willing to assist in any way they can.

Bird Watching / Wildlife Courses are organised by The Cape Clear Bird Observatory.
hese popular courses have limited numbers so book early to avoid disappointment.

For full details, check out the official page.


There are usually several Festivals held throughout the year on the Island.

Some of the ones to look out for are:

Story Telling Workshop

This is held annually usually across the October weekend, This small but very popular event has attracted some of the finest storyteller names over the years.  It is partially funded by the Government as acknowledgement of the cultural impact of such a course.  It entails roughly 15 hours of ‘classes’ which are both informative and enjoyable to all.

For more details, or check out prior years, please visit here.

Story Telling Festival

This is held annually for the first week in September and is incredibly popular.  A combination of workshops and performances, most of the activities are in English and some in Irish.  There are often storytellers from all around the world, from Cork to the USA!.

Early booking and accommodation sorting is recommended as this is sure to be a sell-out.

Check out the Festival website here.

Cape Clear Walking Talking Festival

The Cape Clear Walking Talking Festival weekend is made up of a series of guided walks focusing on the history, folklore, bird watching and ecology of the Island.  The walks are led by local experts and there is plenty of interaction and participation of the groups encouraged.  Other events, such as a dinner, are arranged also for people to attend.

To check out the details, please checkout the website.


When:  Year Round (weather permitting)
Where: Baltimore and Cape Clear (Pre-arranged)

The great thing about Cape Clear is that you cannot but help to be close to the sea and the lakes.  But, believe it or not, there are no fish in any of the freshwater lakes !!!
However, you are more than made up at the availability of sea fishing opportunities to be had.  You can fish off shore, or on a boat.  Fishing trips can be organised to go fishing out to sea also, where the big ‘uns are.  Its fishermans paradise, enough said.  There are many boat owners who will, by prior arrangement, take groups out to sea for fishing trips.


Whale Watching Tours

When:  Spring to Autumn (weather permitting)

Where: Baltimore (scheduled) and Cape Clear (Private Hire)

Tours are available both from Cape Clear and Baltimore.

Check out Nic Slocum’s Whale Watching Trips Here.  Other trips may be available locally (i.e. from the Island etc).

Historical Buildings & Sites

Cape Clear is a remote Island and has been largely unspoiled by some of the developments that happened under the Celtic Tiger.  With a standing population of around 150 the society is rural and ‘development’ is kept to a minimum. As a result there are some fascinating places to visit on the Island that may otherwise have been destroyed over the years.

Passage Grave

Cape Clear has its own passage grave, and although access is somewhat restricted it is always something special to say you’ve seen one of these, they are after all some of the oldest buildings in the world.  This particular one is dated at about 5,000 years old.

The Marriage Stones 

Most likely part of a stone circle, these stones are dated to about 2,000 years old. They are fascinating to view and are well worth the trek.
They can be part of a

The O’Driscoll Castle Ruins (16th century) and the Church Ruins (12th century) are both worth take a ramble to, as they give an idea of the past of the island.

Useful Links

Following is a list of links that may be useful to check out Cape Clear Island and its infrastructure: Cape Clear Island Website Cape Clear Bird Observatory Cape Clear Storytelling Festival Website Chuck Krugers Homepage Co-Op Information page (to May 2011) Ferry Service – From Baltimore, to Cape Clear (year round) NB Discount if booked online (10%) Ferry Service – From Schull to Cape Clear (from June on) Kayaking and Snorkelling on the Island – Phone Kate (085 2029094) Nurse Resident on Island (086 7871581) West Cork Tourism Site

Whale Watching in West Cork Website

Places to Stay on Cape Clear Island

There are lots of places to stay on Cape Clear Island, or alternatively you can stay on the mainland (why, oh why, would you do this !) if you so wish.

Initially this site was set up (very successfully) to advertise a specific  holiday home on Cape Clear (the one in the photo here) but thats now a private house again.  Since the site is set up, and paid for, I’ve kept it going so others can discover this beautiful Island.

There are lots of type of accommodation on Cape Clear, from holiday homes to camping sites to hostels etc.  There really is something for everyone.

A good place to start when looking for accommodation is some of the notices on this site, or at the following link.