These pages describe ByRoute I between Cork Harbour and Tralee (Co. Kerry).
Passage West (Co. Cork / South)
Passage West (An Pasáiste Thiar) (aka “Passage“)(pop. 7500), on the western shores of Cork Harbour, is a suburb of Cork City.
Home of the old Royal Victoria dockyards, the area was previously quite heavily industrialised, and then suffered a period of high unemployment before its current incarnation as a desirable residential district.
Passage West was the birthplace of Captain Richard Roberts of the Sirius, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic in 1838. A memorial near Glenbrook recalls this historic crossing.
Monkstown is a very highly desirable (i.e. posh) residential suburb overlooking Cork Harbour.
Monkstown is the home of Culturlann na hEireann (the Irish Cultural Institute), supposedly Irelands’ leading cultural movement. A variety of traditional Irish entertainment is presented here throughout the summer months.
Monkstown Castle / Castle Mahon (now the clubhouse for Monkstown Golf Club) was built in 1636 by Anastasia Gould as a surprise for her husband. She is said to have stipulated that the workmen must buy all their food from her, so that when the budget was balanced the building cost her one penny. It is one of the best preserved examples of a C17th great gabled house.
Seapoint is a popular spot for windsurfers.
Ringaskiddy (Co. Cork / South)
Ringaskiddy (pop. 450) is a small town on the eastern side of Cork Harbour, and one of only two Free Ports in Ireland.
A Martello Tower on the hilltop at Ringaskiddy affords panoramic views of Cork Harbour.
The Port of Cork‘s deepwater berth at Ringaskiddy is of huge importance to the region both from a commercial and a tourism perspective. Facilities can handle a range of cargo types, including roll-on / roll-off, lift-on / lift-off and dry bulk. Ringaskiddy port handles much of the vehicle imports for the southern part of Ireland each year.
Swansea-Cork Ferries operate a service connecting Ringaskiddy to the Welsh port, and Brittany Ferries link Ringaskiddy with Roscoff, France.
The National Maritime College of Ireland opened its doors to students in October 2004. Located near the bridge to Haulbowline Island on a Naval Service site, the college is one of the most sophisticated centres of its kind in the world.
Ringaskiddy is now a major industrial centre – particularly for companies in the pharmachem industry, including GlaxoSmithKline, Centocor, Novartis, Recordati and Hovione. The Pfizer production facility in Ringaskiddy, said to be the largest in the world outside the USA, produces active ingredients for their most famous product, Viagra.
Currabinny is a beautiful wooded promontory at the mouth of the Owenabue River Estuary with great views of Crosshaven and Lower Cork Harbour.
Currabinny Woods are mostly deciduous, and the forest trails, unusual in that they were originally laid out for horse and carriage, are wide and airy. Interesting features in the Woods include a pre-historic burial cairn known as the ‘Giants Grave’ and a gazebo erected by C19th landowners to have ‘tea with a view’.
Currabinny Hill overlooks Drake’s Pool, where Sir Francis Drake, the English Admiral credited (along with the weather) with the defeat of the 1588 Spanish Armada, is said to have taken shelter in 1589 when his five-ship squadron was being chased by a fleet of Spaniards, who kept to the main harbour channel and, although they travelled right up to Cork City, were unable to find their prey.
In 2005 a sculpture commemorating the 1589 arrival of Sir Francis Drake was unveiled. A sail-shaped monument designed by local artist Peadar Drinan, made of marine-grade stainless steel and marble and accompanied by a plaque featuring an etching of Drake’s original ship, The Golden Hind, the sculpture was erected at the behest of the local Lions Club. Surprisingly, although the local authorities were rapidly reminded of Drake’s leading role in the Rathlin Island massacre of 26th July 1575, when over 200 defenders and 400 women and children followers of Sorley Boy MacDonnell were brutally put to the sword, this Insult to Ireland has not yet been removed. (Photo by Olivia O’Brien)
Coolmore is a fine Georgian mansion, built in 1788 by W Newenham, ancestor of the current owner. The entrance is flanked by eight lodges built in 1815 in the “Gothic Cottage” style, forming a crescent around the magnificent wrought-iron gates with an archway. Coolmore is the headquarters of the South Union Hunt, which has traditionally played a prominent role in the area. The house is not open to the public.
Carrigaline (Co. Cork / South)
Carrigaline (Carraig Uí Leighin) (pop. 16,000) used to be a village, but since the late 1970s it has become one of the fastest growing towns in Ireland, with the second highest proportion of foreign nationals in the county (behind Midleton), mostly of Eastern European, Asian and African origin.
The mainly young inhabitants live in sprawling housing estates and drive to work in Cork City & Environs. Carrigaline lacks urban amenities, does not have its own town council and remains under the authority of Cork County Council.
Rock & Castle
The Rock (An Carraig) from which Carrigaline derives its name is a prominent outcrop of disputed etymology; while some say that it was called after a family called Ui Leighin / Leighne / Lyons / O’Lyon / O’Lyne, others maintain that the lost or distorted original Gaelic toponym actually meant Rock of the Pool.
Carrigaline Castle on The Rock, known locally as (de) Cogan’s Castle, was built shortly after thearrival of the Normans by either Milo de Cogan or Philip de Prendergast (both surnames are still common in the area). The stronghold was originally named Beauvoir, and the medieval village that grew up at the base of the steep rockface was called Bébhor.
The castle later became the property of the Earls of Desmond.
In the mid-C16th local unrest served Sir Wareham St Leger as a pretext to take possession of the castle and secure surrounding districts in 1568. James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, leader of the 1st Desmond Rebellion, recaptured the castle with little resistance in June of that year, but it fell, badly damaged by cannon fire, to Crown forces under Sir Henry Sidney in October 1569.
The property was later acquired by Richard Boyle, the entrepeneur who became the 1st Earl of Cork, and is still owned by his descendant, the current Earl of Shannon.
The present ruins consist of a typical Norman Tower, another, probably later, building with a pointed roof and several outhouses, one of which is still used by the farmer who works the land around it.
As the castle declined in importance, the village moved to its present location at the head of the Owenabue River Estuary.
St.Mary’s church (CoI), scenically located overlooking the estuary, was designed by George & James Pain and completed in 1824 to replace an earlier edifice built near the Rock in 1723.
Ravenswood is a private country estate overlooking the Owenabue River, on a site inhabited since Neolithic times, as evidenced by ancient artefacts now displayed in Cork Municipal Museum. The main house was built in 1847 by Ralph Westrop, whose granddaughter, Constance E. Westrop, was a notable painter of local scenes.
Ravenswood Mews is a pretty C18th mews, set within its own walled courtyard and modernised to 4 Star standard, including an indoor heated swimming pool, available for vacation rental.
Mount Rivers House, former home of the Roberts family, is the headquarters of Carrigaline Art Group, host of many fine exhibitions.
Ballea Castle west of the town was built about the end of the C16th by the MacCarthy clan and acquired by the Hodder family, who held it until c.1900. It is one of the oldest residential castles in Ireland, famous for the white horse painted on the rock beneath it.
Carrigaline Pottery, founded by Hoddie (Hodder) Roberts in 1928, came to employ over 200 people until it‘s closure some years ago. Part of the premises is going to be part of a large shopping centre and a new Town Square.
Carrigaline cheese, handmade locally by Anne and Pat O’Farrell in a variety of flavours, has won several international awards.
Carrigaline is not far from Inishannon on ByRoute 3.
The old railway line between Carrigaline and Crossshaven is now a very pleasant riverside walk.
Crosshaven (Co. Cork / South)
Crosshaven (Bun an Tabhairne) is an attractive village of in a picturesque setting on a hillside overlooking the Owenaboe River Estuary, with fine views of Carrabinny, and has been a favourite summer resort for Cork residents since Victorian times.
Headquarters of the Royal Cork Yacht Club since 1966, Crosshaven has long been recognised as a major international sailing centre. Two marinas are available for visiting yachts, both offering excellent facilities. It was from here that Tim Severinset off on his historic re-enactment of the ancient Irish Saint Brendan’s voyage to America in a hide-covered boat, and Sir Francis Chichester‘s Gypsy Moth V was constructed locally. Crosshaven is also home to the Cork Harbour Lifeboat.
Crosshaven House, a rather barracks-like pile built in 1769, has recently been extensively restored and can now be hired for functions such as weddings, corporate and charity events, exhibitions and auctions.
From Crosshaven a network of roads and lanes lead to beautiful coastal scenery and a series of small coves with bathing nooks – Church Bay, Weaver’s Point, Grabbal Bay, White Bay, Myrtleville, Fennell’s Bay and Fountainstown. These routes make for pleasant summer walks. The end of the Point Road in particular affords excellent views of the Cork Inner Harbour.
Fort Meagher (originally known as James’s Battery, then Ram’s head Battery, and renamed Fort Camden in 1795 after the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland of the time, John Jeffreys Pratt, 2nd Earl (later Marquess) of Camden) occupies a site that has been fortified since at least 1550, and strengthened with each new threat of invasion – the Spanish, the Cromwellians, the Williamites, the French, and the Germans.
Like its twin Fort Davis (formerly Fort Carlisle) on the opposite side of Cork Harbour, the current edifice was built in 1780; convict labour from Spike Island was used to extend the Fort to its present dimensions in 1875/80.
Installations for the Brennan Torpedo, the world’s first guided missile, invented in Australia in 1877, were built into the cliff in 1893.
As Cork Harbour was a Treaty Port, Fort Camden was not handed over by the British to the Irish government until 1938, when it was renamed. Fort Meagher was last occupied during “the Emergency” and sporadically used thereafter by the Irish Navy, the FCA etc.
The government handed Fort Meagher to Cork County Council in 1989 for use as a military, naval and maritime history museum, still at the project stage. Due to the efforts of a Crosshaven Community group, parts of the complex are open to the public during the summer.
Bunnyconnellan Bar & Restaurant, reached by a long windy driveway up a hillside overlooking Myrtleville, and long aka “the cottage on the rock2“, is a castellated villa built in 1824 by Sir Nicholas Trant who, together with his daughter Clarissa, had a well-deserved philanthropic reputation. Converted in 1949 by “Jock” McNeil Porteous, who named it after a small village in northern County Mayo, it has been owned and run by the O’Brien family since 1976
Minane Bridge and Tracton are pleasantly unspoilt rustic villages. The nearest swimming points are Robert’s Cove and Carrigada Bay, popularly known as Rocky Bay.
Nohoval is known for its clay-pigeon shooting facilities. Coastal walks, horse riding and water-sports are all available locally, and there is swimming at Novohal Cove.
Belgooly & Oysterhaven (Co. Cork / South)
Belgooly (Béal Guala) (pop. 550), an agreeable village with two good pubs, was where a German Luftwaffe Ju 88 was shot down by the RAF’s 615 squadron on 26th August 1941.
The Belgooly Show, an atmospheric agricultural fair, has been run every June since 1941, while the Belgooly Festival takes place in August.
The Belgooly Inn is a pleasant old country house offering good B&B facilities.
Oysterhaven, at the mouth of the Belgooly River, has a stony beach, visible when the tide is out; at other times the sea comes right up to the wall.
Walton Court dates its origins to 1645; the beautiful Georgian house was built in 1776. A beautiful garden sloping down to the sea is a popular venue for weddings and festivities. Two attractive courtyards are surrounded by converted cottages and apartments, available as B&B accomodation and / or on a self-catering basis.
The Oysterhaven Centre, established by Oliver and Kate Harte in the 1980s, runs sailing and sailboarding / wind-surfing courses for youngsters, adults and corporate teams, provides facilities for canoeing and other water-sports, and leases several self-catering holiday cottages.