Clonakilty (Pop. 3200) Is a seaside town with an interesting collection of historical buildings. Its colourful narrow streets contain a magnificent array of traditional hand painted shopfronts many using the Irish language.
Clonakilty is West Cork’s only heritage town and one of its oldest buildings is the Market House of 1696. A 19th century mill building has been restored and adapted for modern use and now houses the Council headquarters for West Cork and the town’s Library. This building received the prestigious Europa Nostra Award in 1987. The old Linen Hall, Courthouse, Quayside warehouses and the extensive Brewery building with its red bricked chimneys, add to the historic collection. The town has four splendid Church buildings.
The Cathedral sized Roman Catholic Church is impressive with fine stained glass, mosaics and its tall spire dominating the skyline. The Church of Ireland overlooks the town from its hillside position, while the Methodist Church sits by the town’s little river. The Presbyterian Church is now Clonakilty’s unique Post Office.
In 1292, Clonakilty received a charter from Edward 1st to hold a market every Monday. In 1378, the Castle of Clogh Na Kylte was recorded in a plea roll. The town became a Borough in 1613 when Richard Boyle (later the Great Earl of Cork) received a charter of incorporation from James 1st. Clonakilty was once the seat of the combined diocese of Cloyne & Ross.
Michael Collins, one of the great heroes of the 1916-1922 period was born at Woodfield Clonakilty in 1890. He was General of the Free State Army and his dynamic and powerful personality made him a legend in his own lifetime. His birthplace 7kms (4.4 miles) west of the town is a national monument. Clonakility museum contains a Collins exhibition.
The father of Henry Ford the world famous car magnate was born at Ballinascarthy, Clonakilty. There is a very lively music-pub scene in Clonakilty from traditional – to modern. The town buzzes with activity and a growing number of artists and musicians are choosing to live here.
Things to do around Clonakilty
Michael Collins House
Michael Collins House, Clonakilty is a new museum dedicated to Michael Collins. Offering an insight into the life of ‘The Big Fella’ and brings the history of Irish independence to life for all the family.
The museum, which opened in 2016, is an excellent resource which presents a large period of Irish history in an easy to understand and personal manner.
Learn of the local patriots who went before Collins and dedicated their lives to an independent Ireland, influencing the path which Collins would take. Explore the life of Michael Collins himself, the farmers son, the rebel, the politician, the soldier, the leader, the ‘Big Fella’.
Michael Collins House prides itself on being an accessible and enjoyable experience for all ages and levels of interest with a family friendly atmosphere promoting interaction and intrigue. To do this it utilises guided tours, interactive displays, activity sheets, Audio Visual, artefacts and information boards all aimed at providing an educational but fun experience for everyone. Popular with schools, Tour Groups and individuals alike, the museum provides an interesting, educational and entertaining activity, not just for rainy days but every day and all year round.
MODEL RAILWAY VILLAGE
“A fun day for all the family”. A visit to the West Cork Model Railway Village is a treat for all the family. Ireland’s only Model Village in Clonakilty is a fully scaled handmade model of the historic West Cork Railway Line with fully working miniature trains and the towns that the railway served during the 1940’s. Take a spin on the iconic Road Train through the beautiful town of Clonakilty. Indoor and outdoor play areas. Relax and enjoy a cup of coffee/tea in the Village Café or visit the Gift Shop in an authentic train carriage. Open daily 11.00am-5:00pm
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Was erected in 1890 by the Earl of Shannon as part of the town’s public water system, and is still in use.
Michael Collin’s Birthplace, Coppingers Court, Castle Salem,
Drombeg Stone Circle, Timoleague Abbey.
SPORTS FEILD & TENNIS COURT
All weather pitch, Clonakilty . Tel: 086 6093131
With ten miles of sandy beaches within a five mile radius and ten major festival events every year, Clonakilty is aptly named “The Beach and Entertainment Centre of West Cork”.
Inchydoney Blue Flag Beach
This Blue Flag Beach is located at Inchydoney, Clonakilty, County Cork. Blue and Green Flag Beach Awards take place each year in early June.
Historical Walk of Clonakilty and its Seafront – (Available at local outlets). This excellent guide book and pull out map takes you on a trip through the streets and seafront of historic Clonakilty. Follow the steps of Irish Chieftains, Norman Settlers, English Puritan settlers. Pass by the Old Linen Hall – the historic wheel of fortune water pump, the Old Market House of 1696 and the elegance of Emmet Square with its fine Georgian houses.
2 Hour parking limit on streets, parking also at church, Behind the library, and the community college and by the bypass.
The Islands of West Cork
Bere Island is the largest of the West Cork islands. The island was a former British military base and a number of forts survive from those times.
Is one of Carbery’s Hundred Isles that lie scattered throughout Roaring Water Bay and beyond. It has an incredible diversity of landscape for such a small island.
Cape Clear Island
Ireland’s southernmost island and is one of the surviving Irish language speaking areas in the south west of Ireland. Ireland’s southern most inhabited Gaeltacht island, 3 miles long by 1 mile wide, lies 8 miles off the coast of West Cork. 3 miles west of the island stands the solitary Fastnet Rock. Saint Ciarán, the island’s patron saint was born on Cape Clear. Saint Ciarán’s well is one of the first features you encounter on arrival at Trá Chiaráin where the Islanders gather each year on the 5th of March to celebrate his feast day.
Sherkin Island is located in the beautiful Roaringwater Bay and is the second largest of Carbery’s Hundred Isles.
Whiddy Island is located in Bantry Bay, which is one of the world’s finest deep water harbours.
Dursey Island is located at the extreme south -westerly tip of the Beara Peninsula. Access is by the only cable car in Ireland, a dramatic experience as it carries you across the spectacular Dursey sound.