Winter getaways: 5 Munster lighthouse experiences

With five Great Lighthouses of Ireland experiences dotting Munster’s coastline, a winter road trip along these shores is a must. Uncover heritage, history and even wildlife on overnight stays or delightful day trips.

Peppered across counties Cork, Kerry and Clare, get planning your ideal break!

Valentia Island

A Black Light | Ballycotton Lighthouse

The idyllic East Cork fishing village of Ballycotton boasts renowned eateries, superb seafood and endless Atlantic vistas. The inspiring horizon itself showcases a black beacon known as Ballycotton Lighthouse.

Perched offshore on beautiful Ballycotton Island, this lighthouse has stood firm on the seascape since the 1840s. Take the exciting boat trip over (April-October only) with Ballycotton Sea Adventures and imagine how past lightkeepers felt as they made that same crossing. Expert local guides will show you around the iconic lighthouse and the picturesque island itself – watch out for the resident goats!

Although closed during the winter season, you can still admire the lighthouse from the village shoreline, it's also just 15 minutes from Castlemartyr, with its luxury resort and golf amenities, and 20 minutes from Midleton, home to the popular Jameson Distillery Experience.

Ballycotton

Galley-Ho! | Galley Head Lighthouse

Two hours away over in West Cork, among the top-notch food destinations and scenic sites, you’ll find Galley Head Lighthouse. A 19th-century lighthouse station, when it was first built Galley Head boasted the most powerful lighthouse light in the world.

Today it showcases two self-catering lightkeepers’ cottages – making a trip here simply irresistible. Wake up to incredible views, revitalising air and keep your eyes peeled for the whales and dolphins known to these waters.

There are plenty of sight-seeing options on the doorstep too. The lighthouse sits just 10 minutes’ drive from historic Clonakilty and its gourmet gems and of course, Blue Flag Inchydoney Beach. For those looking for even deeper passages of history, the Megalithic Drombeg Stone Circle is just a 25-minute drive away too.

Ireland’s Teardrop | Fastnet Rock & Lighthouse

Long known as ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’ – it being the last sight of home for emigrants on departing ships – Fastnet Rock is quite the enigmatic outpost. The lighthouse stands offshore, southwest of captivating Cape Clear Island in West Cork. A 19th-century lighthouse, it’s the tallest and widest rock lighthouse tower in Ireland and Great Britain, jutting 177 ft out of the Atlantic. In 1912, the Titanic sailed by Fastnet after leaving Cobh on its ill-fated voyage to New York.

Although Cape Clear Ferry tours don't run in the winter season, the quaint fishing villages of Baltimore and Schull offer lots to enjoy like pony trekking, a planetarium, whale watching, sailing and golfing.

 

Fastnet Rock

Island Paradise | Valentia Island Lighthouse

An island already boasting tales of transatlantic communication, pre-historic sights and incredible panoramas over the Skellig and Blasket Islands – this lighthouse is the icing on the proverbial cake. Once home to a lone lightkeeper and his family, Valentia Island Lighthouse has sat on these wave-thrashed shores since 1841.

Although the visitor centre isn't open during the winter season, you can still explore its placement on a 17th-century fort and the astonishing fossilised dinosaur footprints on the island’s shoreline, right by the lighthouse. Valentia Island, with its elevated Bray Head viewing point, makes an ideal day trip for anyone touring the Skellig Coast, the Ring of Kerry or Portmagee.

Valentia

In the Loop | Loop Head Lighthouse

Whale watchers, star gazers, gourmet geeks and lighthouse lovers are all well served on the idyllic Loop Head Peninsula. Nestled at the very end of this picturesque corner of West Clare, this delightful lighthouse – complete with nifty self-catering cottages – has been a coastal stalwart since the 1800s.

Although the visitor centre is closed during the winter season, you can still enjoy an overnight lighthouse trip in the quaint lightkeepers' cottages. The Loop Head Peninsula’s landscape and lack of light pollution also makes it an ideal location to observe stunning constellations like The Plough and the Big Dipper, so be sure to look up!

Loop Head

Whale and dolphin fans can take a boat trip from Carrigaholt (just 20 minutes from the lighthouse) to spot some of Europe’s largest group of bottlenose dolphins – about 200 frequent these waters!

And after all that sight-seeing, don’t forget to treat yourself to the best of the area’s local produce and a well-earned, delicious meal.

Feeling inspired? Discover more Great Lighthouses all over the island of Ireland.

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