Although some 30 kms from Kinsale, Drombeg is easily visited on the way west to Skibbereen and Killarney. and roughly two kms before reaching Glandore. Drombeg is one of the better known stone circles in Ireland and is probably part of a small settlement. The circle has 17 (seventeen) stones and is roughly 9 metres in diametre. There is one of the stones that is directly in line with a notch in the nearby hills at the winter solstice in December passing over the axial stopne or altar to the portal stones opposite. Close by is an outline in stones of a couple of huts, and also a hut having a cooking trough where water was boiled for cooking meat. It has been proven fairly recently that it was possible to keep over 250 litres of water boiling for up to 3 hours here. The circle dates back to about 150 BC/150 AD, although in the centre of the circle were found pieces of pottery and a pot containg human remains that have been carbondated to 8/900 years BC.
Quite easy to find by following the R597 from Rosscarberry towards Glandore. The signpost is there but you really have to watch for it. Turn left and after it is pretty well marked. From the car park just follow the obvious track for about 500 metres through hedges of splendid wild fuchsia.
Silly me, I always thought that the Old Head of Kinsale was more or less within the town itself - it's not; it's several miles drive further into West Cork. The signposts just say "Old Head", which can be a bit confusing - at least, I found it confusing and I'm Irish (no Irish jokes here, please). They should, perhaps, just add the words "of Kinsale" to make it clear.
Anyway, when I put two and two together I followed the signs to the Old Head of Kinsale.
This area is really stunning, with the headland surrounded by the ocean on both sides. However, it did strike me that (unusually I might have thought) two of the most scenic parts of the area have been taken over by private development.
The first is a gated development of houses right on the headland and blocking one of the more breathtaking views in the area - I cannot believe that any Planning Council granted permission for this, particularly with the enthusiasm (even passion) in the Irish planning offices to preserve our scenic beauty.
The second is the Old Head Golf Course, which blocks off access to the tip of the headland itself. It's not usual for Irish areas of great beauty to be given over to private enterprise.
Apart from these two spots there is still a lot to see. Put on stout and comfortable walking shoes and clothing suitable for walking over rough terrain in strong winds and along precarious and unprotected cliffs. Bring your camera. The wild flora is also amazing. I stood at the cliff top and listened to the seals barking on the rocks hundreds of feet below at the foot of the cliffs. I am sure I spotted cormorants there, too.
If you visit any other part of West Cork, this must surely be it.
Coming from the Cork side of Kinsale, drive through the town and out the other side, then you are heading towards Garrettstown beach which you will come across on your left hand side after a few miles.
I thought I was lucky living as close as I am to the three mile beach at Tramore, but my first visit to Garrettstown suggests that it is even longer than Tramore beach. It seems to go on for miles - a perfect golden sandy beach with waters lapping the shore. I found the beach to be sandy but the area close to the water was very pebbly and makes paddling something best done when wearing sand shoes.
I watched many surfers, though there wasn't much surf that day and I cannot say whether or not there regularly is.
It is a clean beach and the waters are clean. There is little or nothing in the way of shops in the vicinity - there was one van selling candy floss close to the public toilets. There are no hurdy gurdys or any of the other things you might expect to find in the area of such a great beach.
I saw signposts for one hotel nearby but that was it as far as commercialism is concerned (oh yes, there is at least one B & B).
For a day out at a perfect and almost deserted beach, you must come here.
This is perhaps the most scenic part of the town itself, built as it is on a range of hills with the narrowest streets you'll ever try to navigate. My advice is to leave the car down at the carparking area at the lower end entrance road to Scilly (by the bay wall) and put on stout walking shoes, then brave the hills together with your camera. You will not be disappointed.
Scilly is also the area where many of the famous older restaurants are situated such as Mn Friday, The Spaniard, and The Spinnaker. Many of these places have rooms looking down over the stunningly pretty harbour.
There are many B & B's in this area also.
To get to Scilly, take a sharp left turn on entering the town from the Cork side. There is a large car parking area here on the right facing the harbour. Drive on through this and all of the area uphill from here is Scilly.
When you are in Kinsale, visit the Kinsale Crystal Factory and store. Started in 1991 by a former Waterford Crystal master craftsman, this small workshop produced traditional, full-lead, mouth-blown and hand-cut crystal.
This is not just a shop- you get to see the craftsman create crystal up close. Unlike Waterford which is mass-produced, this is deep cut crystal. This involves cutting the crystal on high angled wheels by hand - a slow, intricate process, but one that produces the most perfect, clear, crisp crystal.
I bought some wonderful pieces which they shipped back to the state for me- including a ring holder, wine coaster and small vase.
Located on Market Street.
The shrine to Our Lady at Ballinspittle was erected for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1954. Its form is reminiscent of the Grotto of Our Lady at Lourdes. During my trips in Ireland I have seen a few such 'grottoes', so it must be a popular way of presenting Our Lady. But this particular shrine is unlike any other in one respect: the 1.75 m high statue was apparently seen to move a few years ago and immediately it became the object of devotion, with pilgrims arriving there from all over Ireland. I looked and looked but couldn't notice any movement. We obviously came too late for the miracle, but we could still admire the abundance of beautiful flowering shrubs surrounding the statue. A true miracle of nature!
After leaving Cork without finding a place to stay, we headed for Dromberg. After getting lost a couple of more times, we found the Dromberg Stone Circle (circa 150 BC). It is a relatively young stone circle and very isolated.
From the Mall you can climb another hill to the Ramparts, carry on up Rampart lane to Blind Gate and back to town via Church street. Alternatively you can do the Compass Hill Walk, a 30 minute circuit which will bring you back to Winters Hill and the Mall and you can then get back down town by the steps to Lower O'Connel Street. All these walks involve a certain amount of effort and uphill climbing but after 10 minutes or so the climb is over and then you are rewarded with incomparable views and a huge sense of achievement. I have moderately severe asthma and I can manage these climbs without too much discomfort. Obviously you could not do all of them on one day but I think if you chose one you would really enjoy it.
On the coastway from Kinsale to Mizen Head (around halfway) you will find this ancient place called Dromberg Stone Circle. The seventeen stones wich together creates the circle dates back to around 150 AD.
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