The thriving town of Skibbereen is the capital of West Cork, centre for all the agricultural, industrial and tourist activities of a wide region.
Skibbereen located on the bank of the River Ilen is the ‘hub’ of West Cork, it is the ideal base from which to discover the choice of beautiful fishing villages – all within 10-15 minutes' drive. Mizen Head, Baltimore, Glandore, Union Hall, Ballydehob and Castletownshend – all quaint and remarkably unspoilt. There is also Carberys Hundred Isles, some of the islands such as Sherkin and Cape Clear just minutes by boat from Baltimore in West Cork.
Skibbereen is situated just 1hr 20 minutes from Cork or 2hrs from Kerry.
Skibbereen things to see and do:
Skibbereen Heritage Centre located in the restored Old Gasworks Building riverside in Skibbereen town is where you will find a number of interesting Exhibitions including, The Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition and The Lough Hyne Interpretative Centre.
Follow the Skibbereen Trail, a historical walking tour of old Skibbereen and visit sites which have direct links with the Great Famine. Include the West Cork Art Centre, a focus for many of the activities of local artists, craftspeople and writers who have come to live in this area.
In the immediate area, there is an 18-hole golf course, game and sea angling, coarse fishing, walking and cycling, scuba diving and sites of international archaeological interest. Experience on a boat trip some of West Cork's now renowned sea life activity Dolphins, Whales and more, who seem to favour our Irish waters. Also nearby is Lough Hyne, Irelands first Marine Nature Reserve.
How to find Lough Hyne
Lough Hyne can be found just a 10 minute drive from Skibbereen town centre. Wonderful to explore in all weathers but particularly on a fine day. The area is popular for Kayaking, Snorkelling, exploring the Marine Life, swimming, forest, road walking and more. From Skibbereen town centre you will follow the N71, then 2nd exit at the roundabout following the R595 and at the next roundabout again take the 2nd exit and then the next left, slight right, left again at arrive at Lough Hyne West Cork.
Find out about the history, folklore and formation of this renowned natural phenomenon at Skibbereen Heritage Centre. But Skibbereen, the town, has more to offer. When the Irish Famine took its toll in the mid 1800’s, the town of Skibbereen was one of the worst affected in all of Ireland, a fact testified by the mass graves at Abbeystrewry, where almost 10,000 are buried. This era is remembered in The Great Famine Exhibition at Skibbereen Heritage Centre. There are also guided historical tours around Skibbereen so why not explore its history. Skibbereen Festivals include Skibbereen's annual Carbery Agricultural Show in July. The West Cork Garden Trail is held annually throughout June and you can find local gardens to visit i.e. Pinetree Lodge Garden, Drishane House & Gardens Castletownshend and Glebe Gardens Baltimore.
Cycling in West Cork and the Skibbereen area
There are 3 main routes such as the 3 hour Atlantic Coastal Loop taking in many of West Corks beautiful headlands, the 3 house Baltimore Loop, and around the Lough Hyne area, and finally the Mount Kid Loop a 3 to 4 hour cycle taking in Roaringwater Bay, Mount Kid and back to Skibbereen. If you have not brought your own bicycle you can hire a bike in Skibbereen town and away you go. Cool off at the local Tragumna Beach for all those swimmers and paddlers. Drive up to Toe Head and take in some wonderful views.
Skibbereen's Farmers Market held every Saturday morning in Skibbereen's town centre is a delight, where you can purchase local produce such as fruit, vegetables and herbs, freshly baked breads and cakes, local West Cork Honey, cheeses (such as the well-known award winning Gubbeen Cheese) and organic meats, and locally caught fish, what could be better, and local crafts such as Bog Wood Sculptures, Hand Crafted Furniture from Irish Timber and Local Pottery.
With 26 pubs in the town and award winning restaurants scattered all around, there is also plenty to do in the evening. Skibbereen truly offers the visitor an a la carte menu, with something for everyone's taste – great places to visit, superb shopping, boating, cycling, whale watching, rowing, not to mention the famous Olympian rowing local stars the O'Donovan brothers, excellent accommodation, a wide selection of Skibbereen pubs and restaurants and that relaxed atmosphere that has made West Cork famous throughout the world.
Local towns, villages and islands close to Skibbereen:
Sherkin Island accessed by boat from Baltimore
Cape Clear Island accessed by boat from Baltimore
Heir Island accessed by boat from Castletownbere
Long Island accessed by boat from Schull