by Steve Wing, Ornithologist
Cape Clear? Why go there? There’s nothing out there to do – or see!
Here’s why! From the moment you leave Baltimore Harbour on the Cailin Oir 11, you are immersed in the beauty of Roaringwater Bay, the 100 Carbery Islands (at low water, admittedly!) and the power of the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer months, the ferry is often accompanied by Common Dolphins, Minke Whales and, occasionally, Basking Sharks, not to mention the hundreds of seabirds, either sitting on the water or flying around the boat. It’s a great way to start a day out!
The entrance into North Harbour, Cape Clear is an experience in itself, with high cliffs on the one side and the pier, marina and Bird Observatory on the other. The Bird Observatory, the only one of it’s kind in the Republic, is a building where visiting birders and naturalists can stay, while they collect data on the passage of birds and marine mammals. They celebrate their 60th birthday this year and, as such, hold one of the largest Natural History datasets in the country. A notice board in the window will tell you the latest sightings.
On the other side of the Harbour, is the Siopa Beag, where you can get excellent refreshments, as you can a little further up the hill, in Cotter’s Bar. A pub with one of the best view ever! If you venture out of the Harbour area, you will encounter some stunning scenery along the waymarked Red Route which takes you up to one of the headlands looking south to Fastnet Lighthouse and beyond. Whales and Dolphins are seen from here regularly (with the aid of Binoculars). The route takes a circular path and leads to Mara Farm, where children and adults can meet tame animals and take a welcome cup of tea and homemade scones, cakes, etc.
Swapping now to the Green Route, via the Mass Track, the Island Church is well worth a visit before turning back towards the Harbour along a road with views across to the Mizen Peninsular. Stop a while at The Goat Farm where you will be gladly shown the goats and kids and have the opportunity to buy Goats milks Ice Cream and cheeses. The road then takes you back to the Ferry and home!
So, while it’s not a big place, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a day or two!