A run down the West Coast of Ireland to Cork 

30th August - 6th September 

150830 8 Katherine on Anchor Arran Islands Dun Eochla.jpg

Just 25nm west of our anchorage in Galway were the Aran Islands. Formed from a limestone ridge the three islands are called Inishmore, Innishman and Inisheer. Inish being the Gaelic word for Island. Innishmore being the largest island at just 13km long and 3km wide has a relatively new harbour that had it not been filled with local sailing and fishing boats along its wall we may have contemplated using. Instead we opted for the more tranquil solution of sitting on anchor in the bay and taking the dinghy to shore. 

150830 3 The Aran Islands Knitwear.jpg150830 10 Dun Eochla Inishmore Aran Islands.jpg150830 16 Cafe with great carrot cake nishmore Aran Islands.jpg

The Aran Islands are famous we now know from our visit for their knitwear, endless stonewalls and prehistoric forts. Transport on the island for tourists, most of whom are day visitors, is by bicycle, horse and cart or 20 seater mini buses. Having met John Faherty on the dock the day of our arrival we opted to take on his “bus tour” of the island as he had sold his services with such enthusiasm. Well John’s ”tour” turned out to be more like a “taxi” service dropping us off at different areas along the island from which we would walk to the point of interest and from which he would return to collect us “there about’s that time.”

First stop not on the agenda was Dun Eochla, situated on the highest point of Innishmore it is the remains of a circular  fort with two terraced walls thought to be from the late stone age period. Situated beside these remains are those of a lighthouse from the nineteenth century that apparently was so badly placed it was never of any effective use but the view it provided of the island and its surrounding coastline were excellent. Continuing on we drove past the beautiful white sand of Kilmurvery Beach which would have been inviting had it just been a wee bit warmer. A short stop at the “The Seven Churches” of which incidentally there were only ever two, dating back to the 12th Century, then onto our final stop the Dun Aonghasa. Dun Aonghasa is a prehistoric fort that is situated on the edge of a cliff face and consisted of four series of concentric walls. Much speculation still exists as to the purpose of the forts from a defensive nature, however the location of the fort high on a cliff side definitely indicated that the citizens of the fort wanted to make access difficult. The day was topped off by the best carrot cake we have tasted to date in Ireland at one of the local cafes whilst waiting for John to return “there about’s that time”.

150831 1 Aran Island to Dingle Dolphins.jpg

From Aran we made a run south to Dingle, in the county of Kerry. The long days sail was made special by the number of Dolphins we saw along the way - we lost count after several hours of pod after pod passing by. In Dingle Harbour we had our first pontoon complete with power and water since leaving Stornaway. Till now we had been predominately making water along the way and running the generator. Dingle was a very pretty town with a real upmarket feel and endless quality craft stores specialising in everything from Leather, Glasswork, to of course Wool. The town has an unofficial mascot Dolphin by the name of Fungi who has been around for some thirty years entertaining tourists in the bay. Fungi was obviously busy on the day of our arrival but we did catch a glimpse of him on our departure. 

150903 15 Dingle for Crookhaven Passing Little Skellig Andrew.jpg

Just south of Dingle are the impressive islands of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig rising out of the sea. Approaching from the north it was easy to understand why a film crew had been filming the day prior for a scene in a future Star Wars movie. Skellig Michael is listed as a World Heritage site for its monastery remains that were believed to have been established between the sixth and eighth century. It would have been fantastic to have climbed the thousand steps to the monastery remains but there is nowhere to anchor near the island and access via dinghy would have been foolhardy if not simply impossible. 

150903 25 Brookhaven most southern pub.jpg

The next few nights were spent on anchor in the beautiful bays of Crookhaven, Cape Clear Island and Glendore. In Crookhaven we enjoyed a pint at Irelands most southern pub, at Cape Clear Island we could have stayed for the Story Telling Festival that was just starting, particularly as Sundays session of “Two birds and a g-string” did make one wonder. While in Glendore we found ourselves amongst a Dragon sailing boat race before enjoying a relaxed evenings meal at a restaurant where we literally sat roadside overlooking the bay and Katherine on anchor. 

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The biggest highlight though of these few days was rounding the southern corner and seeing the Fastnet rock. Fastnet Rock is a small islet that lies off the most southern tip of Ireland and was historically known as the “Teardrop of Island” as it was the last site of Ireland that emigrants would see as they sailed to America. Today Fastnet is known more to the sailing fraternity as the turning point in the Fastnet Race - a race that starts and finishes in Cowes and covers a distance of 603nm. Held every two year since its inception in 1925 the race this year attracted 356 yachts from 25 countries. Though we did not race around Fastnet we were fortunate to have good enough conditions that Andrew could put Pete and I off in the tender to take some photos of Katherine sailing past this infamous rock lighthouse. 

150906 3 Passing Cobh and St Colemans Cathedral.jpg

So Sunday 6th, Fathers Day in Australia, we meandered up the long inlet to Cork passing along the way the picturesque town of Cobh from which the Titanic had left on her fatal voyage. We have a great location alongside a pontoon literally in the city centre of Cork from where we have begun a little bit of land touring. 

But that update is for later. 

(Click for more photos) 

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain