Friday, 29 July 2016

4 go wild on Kirren Island

We've spent a wonderful 4 days in the wilds of west Cork in Ireland. It's a beautiful place with some fantastic scenery and plenty of exciting wildlife to keep us busy. With no phone or internet access for the majority of the time, we had no excuse but to get out there and go wild!

Our house overlooked the sea and was very remote, accessed by a lane barely wide enough for a car, lined by fuchsia bushes, with swallows swooping overhead.

We had a very friendly stonechat that sat outside the kitchen window and several whitethroats 'played' in the bushes in the garden all day.

Whitethroat (or at least I think that's what they were!)
The beach was close by, so the kids spent a lot of time rock pooling and swimming. The weather was typically Irish, with sunshine one minute and drizzle the next, but it didn't put anybody off (especially as they had wet suits).
Serious rock pooling involves getting in with the creatures!

We even found Kirren Island (from the Famous Five) and managed to wade out to it to explore.
On the way to Kirren Island
We found all sorts of treasures on the beach, including mermaid's purses (the egg cases of sharks), crabs, two types of jellyfish and some enormous mussels.
Shore crabs - to be handled with care!

Mermaid's purse
Compass jellyfish
Huge mussels
Our best beach find was dozens of little blue 'jellies' with a sail, called by-the-wind sailors. They live out at sea, but occasionally get blown ashore when there are gales. They had the most amazing patterns on them and were all over the beach.

When the tide was out we saw little egrets, curlews and hooded crows picking through the sand.

Hooded crow
There was time for a bit of beach art as well.
Toothy the shark
We spent a few minutes watching a thrush crack open a snail for its tea...

... and found a single ragwort plant in the sand dunes with 14 burnet moths on it.
I'm not sure what the collective noun for burnet moths is
We drove out to Mizen Head, the most South Westerly point of Ireland, for more fantastic views. We were quite literally blown away!

The Irish are good at cliffs!

Even up on the top of the cliffs we found shiny green beetles called rose chafers hanging on to the ragwort.
Rose chafer, hanging on tight!
We went on a whale watching trip while we were there, but I'll write a separate post about that!

On the way home we popped into Drumbeg stone circle, because you can't visit Ireland without seeing a stone circle.

Stonehenge has shrunk!
It was a fantastic few days at the beach ... who needs the Mediterranean when you've got beautiful county Cork.


  1. Thanks for sharing what looks to be a fantastic family holiday...Great photos...Have always wanted to visit Ireland, but you may have pushed me into planning a trip..btw how did you book your lodgings? Airbnb, bnb or ??? If you could recommend a site/place, much appreciated. Thanks : )

    1. Thanks Jo, it's well worth a visit as it's such a beautiful place. We use TripAdvisor for self catering, but Airbnb is good for bnb's. Our favourite places are the Burren (Lahinch, Doolen), the Dingle Peninsula and West Cork (Baltimore, Skibereen). Hope you get there! Sue

  2. Fantastic! Never been to Ireland. Looks absolutely stunning. Those by-the-wind-sailors are amazing, well done finding them. Just recently got back from my adventure in France myself, and found some amazing things there too including a beaver! Can't wait to hear about your whale adventure.

    1. Thanks Sean, looking forward to reading all about your adventures when I get home. Beavers ... wow! Sue