The island of Ireland is not enormous, that’s true. However, I can assure you there are thousands of spots to discover that will leave you breathless. Ranging from the north to south and passing through its 4 provinces and 32 counties… There must be something hidden, right? Of course there is, and adventurers like me will want to visit them all!
Therefore, let’s start from two of the outermost places in the Emerald Isle: Mizen Head and Milen Head, Ireland’s northernmost point and southernmost point, respectively. They are both far away from the capital, but their beauty is worth the journey!
Located at the extremity of Kilmore peninsula, in County Cork, Mizen Head stretches out majestically into the Atlantic Ocean attracting thousands of tourists to contemplate this heritage attraction.
In the place, between the high cliffs and the crashing waves, there is hidden the Mizen Head Signal Station, an old military complex with a lighthouse and a weather station. The construction was made to warn ships and now has become a museum which explains its duty for shipping and communications. Inside the museum you can find all kind of maritime artefacts, such as the Marconi Radio Room, the engine room or the Stations Keeper’s Quarters.
I hope you aren’t afraid of heights, because to get to the Signal Station you need to take 10 minutes descent down the famous 99 steps path. And it does not end there! Next, you have to cross the high Arched Bridge to reach your destination. Still, it is worth it, but believe me the panoramic views of the cliffs and the ocean are spectacular and if you are lucky you might see seals, dolphins or even whales!
The visit will take 1 or 2 hours, or as long as you want to spend there. The opening hours vary, so it is better you to check the opening times on the official website of Mazen Head here. Finally, I suggest you go in summer time because it is always better to experience the place in good weather!
What’s in the surrounding area? In County Cork there is much to do. It is a place full of lovely towns, ancient buildings and stunning landscapes. However, I will tell you my top three favourite places that you should visit when you go.
Close to the city of Cork, there is a medieval fort called Blarney Castle. After many modifications, the current building was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, in 1446. At the top of the castle lies the Blarney Stone, well-known as the ‘Stone of Eloquence’. Legend states that if somebody hangs upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone you will be blessed by the gift of eloquence.
Next, on the south cost we can find the medieval town of Kinsale. It is a lovely, picturesque fishing village that has always been a centre of populations, trade and fishing for many centuries. Today it is visited by many tourists and considered a lovely place to have a quiet break enjoying good restaurants and a beautiful environment.
Finally, I would suggest you drive around the circular route of Beara Peninsula. It is very similar to the Ring of Kerry in County Kerry, but different at the same time. There you will find an amazing landscape of intricate coasts and sharp mountains. It is a paradise of nature.
Exactly on the other side of the island we can find the northernmost point Milen Head, in Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal. It is not as amazing as Mizen Head, but in this place we can find a unique piece of history. The northernmost tip is Banba’s Crown, named after one of the mythical queens of Ireland, and on the top we can find a weather station. During war times a military watchtower and a signal stations were built there, but today there remains only of the weather station used for the North West part of Ireland.
What’s in the surrounding area? Donegal is probably one of the most picturesque areas in Ireland so if you travel up there to visit Malin Head, you need to take full advantage and discover all it has to offer. So, what else can you see?
Firstly, you can visit the fascinating Glenveagh National Park where I have witnessed the most beautiful sunset in my entire life. This wild but peaceful place is perfect to enjoy on foot, so park your car and go for a wander through the wilderness. Furthermore, there is an ancient castle, which now has become a luxury hotel where you can have a cup of tea.
If you keep travelling south you can find the Assaranca Waterfall, a really nice, green place that you can enjoy even in rainy weather.
Even more southerly, is hidden what is in, personally speaking, the best beach I have ever seen on the island: Silver Strand. The place is difficult to find, located at the end of the gravel road in Malin Beg. To access the fine-sand beach you need to go down steep stairs from where you can enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of the ocean.
Finally, finish your trip by visiting some of the most spectacular cliffs in Ireland. I am talking about the Slieve League, one of the island’s best-kept secrets.