With the sunny weather set to return this weekend, there has never been a better time to get outside and explore the lush and varied surroundings of Cork County. If you fancy a less obvious adventure, why not take the 40-minute drive out to beautiful Ballycotton in the jewel that is East Cork. For those that don’t drive, the 240 bus offers a service three times daily. The bus station is a mere 5-minute walk from our city centre boutique hotel.
Upon first glance, Ballycotton is a quaint, sleepy village with minimum amenities. Contrary to some of the bigger tourist towns clamouring for attention in the Cork region, Ballycotton has a quiet, reserved elegance to it- an almost “love me for what I am” vibe. It’s silent! It’s peaceful! It’s sleepy! A lone fisherman waits for his next catch at the harbour, some seagulls fly overhead, a few teenagers are getting ready to go kayaking, a bird-watcher fiddles with his binoculars and some walking enthusiasts are heading to do the cliff walk, a 5 mile path connecting Ballycotton to Ballyandreen involving meadows, beaches and stunning sea views of Ballycotton Island. The path is relatively flat making it accessible for most fitness levels and is definitely a worthwhile way to pass a morning if you find yourself craving the great outdoors and some gentle exercise.
If you want to throw a bit of a history lesson into the abundant mix of nature and wildlife on offer, why not hop on one of the boats and take a tour of Ballycotton Lighthouse? Built in 1847 following the shipwreck of the Sirius here in dense fog, Ballycotton Island is a haven for wildlife and all things natural. Watch out for the peregrine falcons near the rocky inlets. Seals and dolphins are regular visitors to the island waters too. There are even some resident goats.
Be amazed by the stories from the former lightkeeper turned tour-guide who used to actually reside on the island for six months a year. His stories of life on the island will make anyone’s “tough day at the office” seem like a walk in the park. Being a lighthouse keeper was a whole lot more than merely managing a light. It was effectively a jack-of-all-trades job involving the upkeep of an entire island, its animals and wildlife with back-breaking tasks like dragging all the month’s coal up a steep hill. It is hard to imagine that light-keepers were living here right up until 1992. Our guide refers to the peace and tranquillity of living on an island- “a way of life” that seems completely foreign to everyone in our tour group. But let’s face it: which one of us isn’t a tiny bit envious of such a life of calm?
Today Ballycotton lighthouse, now automated, is one of 70 lighthouses operating around the coast of the island that continues to play a vital role in maritime safety.
Of course, finish up your day of adventure with a relaxing dinner at Greene's Restaurant where residents of Hotel Isaacs enjoy a 15% food discount. Finally, kick back with one of Cask’s signature cocktails at our award-winning cocktail bar.
Adults: €20. Children (under 15): €10
Family ticket: 2 adults and 3 children: €60
Colette is a hotel receptionist working at Hotel Isaacs Cork. Her favourite part of the job is meeting the many guests coming from all corners of the globe and sharing with them all the wonders that Cork City and County has to offer. One of her great passions is travelling and exploring new places especially museums, galleries and castles. "One of the things I feel very strongly about is how so many people in Ireland are completely unaware of some of the hidden treasures right on their door-steps. When people go abroad, they push themselves to see all the cultural delights on offer but too often, they have no idea how great what is right in front of them, readily available every day is. I came to Cork as a student in 2008 and I too limited myself and didn't push myself to explore. It took a friend to take me off and show me how truly amazing this city and county is and this is what I want to share with my guests and readers.