A Tour of East Cork
East Cork has a character all of its own. Rich plains, clean and unspoiled sandy beaches, historic towns and heritage centres, rocky bays and dramatic coastal cliff walks and scenery, forested landscapes and walks, less crowds, more peace and quiet. There are small towns and villages, castles, ruined monasteries, a living cathedral and a beautifully preserved round tower at Cloyne, a unique coastal bird sanctuary and at Fota a unique Wildlife Park. This is ideal cycling country, and motoring country too. In East Cork there are still undiscovered places and secret sandy bays for you to discover and explore.
Ballycotton – Ballymacoda – Carrigtwohill – Castlemartyr – Shanagarry – Cloyne – Cobh – Fota Wildlife Park & Arboretum – Glouthaune – Midleton – Whitegate – Youghal
Ballycotton fishing village is located on the Atlantic coastline. The village is shielded from the sea gales by an offshore island, with its Lighthouse. Ballycotton is a famous sea-angling resort. A colourful fishing fleet occupies the inner harbour. There is a cliff walk with lovely views rising to 200 ft. above sea level. Steps descend to a swimming point. The Wildfowl Sanctuary at Ballycotton is visited by extremely rare seabirds during stormy weather. The area offers a wide variety of habitats and species. Birdwatchers are recommended to visit Ballycotton Island, Capel Island and Ladysbridge.
The village of Whitegate overlooking the inner harbour is an ideal touring base and lively evening resort. From Ballycotton to Roche’s Point the coastline changes from the open sandy beaches of Garryvoe to cliffs, rocky coves and small sandy bays. There is much to explore along this stretch of coast, like the little rocky cove at Ballyandreen, Ballyshane, Inch Strand, or the picturesque sunny village of Guileen with its own little beach, its cliff walks and private rocky bays. At Roche’s Point lighthouse you can look across the entrance of Cork Harbour, with its splendid and varied traffic of yachts, trawlers, cargo-ships, and assorted small boats.
Ballymacoda / Killeagh
If you are coming from Youghal on the N25 there is a signpost left to Ballymacoda as you leave the town, taking you onto the coastal route. Ballymacoda is a peaceful picturesque little village overlooking Youghal Bay, an ideal place to relax and enjoy the old world atmosphere of quiet and tranquility. There are quiet beaches, coves and inlets, lanes and roads perfect for walking and cycling. From Ballymacoda you will see Knockadoon Head and Capel Island in the distance. Many roads will take you to the waters edge. Capel Island was (is) Ireland’s first bird sanctuary and is a bird-watchers paradise. Salmon, lobster and shrimps are plentiful in the waters near Knockadoon.
Between Midleton & Youghal on the N25, at the end of the village of Killeagh is the entrance to Glenbower Forest Park, with its excellent facilities, walks, and beautiful lake. Part of the wood has a fine echo, giving seven or eight repercussions from one call. There are other forests in this area suitable for walks and picnicking: Ballyedmond (2km N of Midleton) is elevated and provides attractive views; East Ferry with its coastal woodlands, and Rostellan (NW of Killeagh Village) also close to the sea.
Close to Cork at Little Island there is a beautiful Golf Course open to visitors. 3.5 miles from Cork on the Waterford road (near the Dublin round-about) is Dunkathel House, a living example of a 18th c. house overlooking the estuary of the River Lee. See Section 6.40 for full details. Further east is the village of Carrigtwohill, a busy commercial town between Midleton and Cork.
Barryscourt Castle at Carrigtwohill dates from the same period as Bunratty Castle & Dunguaire Castle. It was built on a strategic site in 1206 by Philip de Barry, and was the seat of the Earls of Barrymore until about 1700 when the hunting house at Fota was built. In May 1990 Barryscourt Castle was reopened to the public, after extensive and continuing restoration. The area surrounding the Castle, including the existing Castle out-buildings, is now a Crafts Centre, with a shop and small quality Restaurant. Unlike other castles, the Courtyard and flanking towers are intact. A free brochure is available.
Opening Times. Barryscourt Castle is open to the public from 11am to 6.30pm daily. Guided tours are given on request, and arrangements may be made for visiting groups.
Castlemartyr / Shanagarry
Castlemartyr, off the N25, is an attractive country village with monastic ruins, a Geraldine castle and a nearby forest walk by the lakeshores of Lough Aderra, complete with picnic areas. The lake itself is a managed trout fishery and offers the angler good returns. A few kilometres south of Castlemartyr is the quiet rural village of Ladysbridge, and further south, 4 mls E of Ballycotton at Garryvoe you’ll find a fine stretch of level strand. Shanagarry, 23 miles from Cork City on the main Cork-Waterford road, is the birthplace of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania State. His ancestral home is now in ruins. Nowadays Shanagarry is more famous for its Stephen Pearce pottery centre. A second pottery was established in 1993 in the grounds of Penn Castle. This new facility of 12,000 sq. ft. houses a pottery workshop downstairs, and upstairs an Emporium and Cafe. Visitors are welcome to visit the workshops and emporium and stroll around it at their ease. At nearby at Ballymaloe you’ll discover the famous Cookery School & Gardens. The Edwardian Gardens here have been restored by Darina Allen and greatly extended to incorporate a herb garden laid out in French parterre style, a formal vegetable garden and an ornamental fruit garden. Recent additions include a pond garden with folly, a water garden and memory arboretum.