The hidden Irish ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ gem with unreal sea arch & dolphins
IRELAND is renowned for its scenic landscapes, sandy beaches and glorious coastlines.
And holidaymakers have been left wowed by a secret Cork spot that can only truly be appreciated by boat, that looks straight out of the Pirates of Caribbean set.
Located along the Beara Peninsula, not far from the stunning Dursey Ireland and the location of Ireland’s only cable car is the majestic Bull Rock, close to Cow Rock and Calf Rock.
The incredible formation of Bull Rock – pierced by a natural tunnel in the centre – allows boats to pass through from side to side beneath the arch at the most south-westerly point of Ireland.
Bull Rock’s green sandstone and purple siltstones surface was formed over 300 million years ago.
And according to folklore, the natural sea arches on the island, which is roughly 93m high and 164m wide, have been described were the “path to the underworld”.
Bull Rock was previously known as Teach Duinn – house of Donn, which in mythology was an otherworldly figure associated with death.
It was also the site of a shipwreck that claimed over 100 lives.
There’s no landing spot on the deserted rocky island, but Dursey Boat Trips or Skellig Coast Discovery boats will offer you the best view from the water.
But some old buildings are visible on the dramatic cliffsides of the island – which include a lighthouse and old gasworks.
The Bull Rock lighthouse was built in 1889, to replace the original cast iron lighthouse on the nearby red sandstone Calf Rock, which was badly damaged in a storm.
The lighthouse was manned by lighthouse keepers who lived on the remote island until it switched to manual operation in 1991.
Now no one lives on the abandoned beauty spot.
But Bull Rock boasts an extensive wildlife population, with hundreds of northern gannets, which breed on the island.
Boat-trippers could also spot puffins and razorbills, as well as various gull species that build their nests on the rocks.
And you could even see dolphins and basking sharks on your boat trip through the west Cork waters.
ISLE BE THERE
An island close-by that you CAN visit, but not always by boat, is Dursey.
The popular west Cork island is known for its glorious views of the mountain ranges and colourful villages off the Beara Peninsula.
The location of Ireland’s only cable car, the tranquil spot has been almost inaccessible for months after the service was closed last March for vital repairs.
But after over a year closed, Cork County Council look set to announce a reopening date for the cable car within weeks – meaning it’ll be back in action for visitors across the summer season.
Dursey Island is just 6.5km long and 1.5km wide – and the most south-westerly island off the Irish coast.
The tiny island used to have hundreds of residents across three villages – Ballynagallagh, Kilmichael and Tilickafinna – but that’s dropped over the years to just a handful of full-time residents, as well as farmers and a few holiday home owners.
The island is a bird watchers’ paradise with a nesting colony of seabirds including rare species from Siberia and America.
And there’s plenty of history to soak up on Dursey, with a Signal Tower on the highest point of the island that was built over 200 years ago during the Napoleonic Wars.
There’s ruins at the church of Kilmichael – said to have been founded by monks from Skellig Rock – as well as O’Sullivan Beare’s castle, from where islanders were thrown into the sea by English soldiers back in 1602.
You can take in the sights by walking or cycling the Dursey Island Loop.
But a stay on the island will take you back in time, as there’s no shops, pubs, restaurants or wifi.
So visitors are advised to stock up and bring food and water for any summer trips.
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