|We used HERE Maps to get around Ireland. It's like Google Maps but downloadable and usable offline.
Usually it did a great job but sometimes it would send us down narrow unpaved roads like this one.
Where We Be
|Mizen Head & Skibbereen, Ireland
We took advantage of a rare non-rainy day to go
on a day trip to the most southwesterly point of
Ireland, Mizen Head, about two hours south of
Cork. It was even more beautiful than expected,
with dramatic lookout points over a rocky
coastline. The Dunlough Bay overlook (shown
left) was especially gorgeous. We saw seals far
below and visited Mizen Head Signal Station. At
a great distance we could see Fastnet Rock
Lighthouse, an impressive lighthouse perched
on a small islet far out to sea. This was the last
piece of Irish real estate seen by emigrants as
they left Cobh seaport for North America.
We drove to Mizen Head by way of Dunmanway
and Drimoleague and returned via Schull and
Skibbereen, all quaint towns. Near Skibbereen
our HERE Maps app took us on a truly back road
through hilly, isolated terrain, but the scenery
was so grand we didn't mind. Just the name
Skibbereen was enough to make us stop and
have a look around -- what a cute little town.
|You'll do a lot of up and down climbing at Mizen Head (€6), but vistas
like this one at Dunlough Bay overlook make all the steps worthwhile
|At the visitor center we learned that Marconi performed some
of his first transatlantic wireless experiments near Mizen Head
|We had no real idea of what Mizen Head looked like ahead of time, so we were
really impressed by just how rugged and spectacular this corner of Ireland is
|The cliffs, the rock formations, the pounding waves, and the
extensive trail system make this a terrific day trip destination
|The furthest point you can walk out to is Dunlough Bay overlook
|The views are breathtaking from here. This is where the currents meet
from the west and south coasts and come crashing into the land.
|The surf is particularly loud as it surges in and
out of this narrow inlet near the lighthouse
|You'll cross Mizen Bridge high above a
gorge on your way to and from the lighthouse
|Looking down from the bridge, you might see seals
and their pups. Those two small dots far below are seals.
|Zooming in on the two seals for a closer look
|We were blown away by some of the
rock formations -- especially this curving one
|From the lighthouse you can climb down a few steps to another overlook
offering the chance to see dolphins, whales, and basking sharks
|Heading away from the lighthouse and Mizen Bridge, there are
still more paths to explore following along the Wild Atlantic Way
|The furthest path in this direction is called Sea Arch Path -- and it's a steep one. You
descend towards the ocean to an observation platform that gets you close to the surf.
|Here's the sea arch as seen from the observation platform
|Fastnet Rock Lighthouse is so far out to sea this was the
best I could manage with my camera zoomed all the way in
|Heading home, we took a different route that passed through the town of Skibbereen. The name struck our fancy
and we decided to stop for a look around once we reached it. Getting there took us through some pretty countryside.
|The road took us through some wild,
isolated country on our way to Skibbereen
|Sometimes off the beaten path is best:
the orange flowers along this route were specacular!
|Through the arch in the trees up ahead is a stone house. What
a pretty spot -- thanks HERE Maps for helping us discover it!
|We rented the tiniest car we could for our Ireland trip. Technically it's a "city car"
but it let us breathe a little easier on the ultra-narrow roads of Ireland.
|We eventually reached the small town of
Skibbereen and parked for a look around
|Strolling through town past all the quaint shops, we counted
our good fortune to have a full month to explore southern Ireland
|We passed the Skibbereen heritage center near the river, and Robin liked the idea
of coming back someday to use the genealogy services here to trace her Irish roots
|One last look at the river running through Skibbereen --
then it was time to head home after a successful day trip
|Arriving at Ireland's most southwesterly point -- the point closest to North
America -- we climbed towards Mizen Head past beautiful coastline
|This visitor center photo gives a better idea
of the dramatically situated lighthouse