Cape Clear Island
Ireland’s southernmost inhabited Gaeltacht island, 3 miles long by 1 mile wide, lies 8 miles off the coast of West Cork. 3 miles west of the island stands the solitary Fastnet Rock. Saint Ciarán, the island’s patron saint, allegedly the earliest of Ireland’s four pre-Patrician saints, was born on Cape Clear. Saint Ciarán's well is one of the first features you encounter on arrival at Trá Chiaráin where the Islanders gather each year on the 5 March to celebrate his feast day.
To the northwest stretches Mizen Head, the mainland’s most southerly point. Cape Clear’s wild romantic scenery, its sparkling harbours, its cliffs, bogs and lake, all contribute to the island’s unspoilt charm. Heather, gorse and wild flowers cover the rugged hills.
Myriad stonewalls have a patchwork effect on the varied landscape. Megalithic standing stones, a 5,000 year-old passage grave, a 12th century church ruin, the 14th century O’Driscoll castle, (cannonaded in the early 1600’s), all relate to times past. Cape Clear’s remote island location, coupled with its proximity to the continental shelf, makes it the foremost centre for bird watching in Ireland. Whales, leatherback turtles, sun fish, dolphins and sharks are spotted regularly every year. Most of the 120 inhabitants speak Irish and English. Removed from the hustle and bustle of mainland life, Cape Clear offers relaxation, nature and peace. It is an excellent setting for Cape’s two Irish summer colleges.