Beautiful Baltimore

No, we’re not in Baltimore, USA – we’re in the very pretty former fishing village of Baltimore on the south-west coast of Ireland…

Coast at Baltimore Beacon
Coast at Baltimore Beacon

Intro

My wife and I spent our first holiday together in Ireland many years ago. We first drove along the south coast in a small hire car and then a little way along the west coast. It wasn’t called the Wild Atlantic Way back then, as it was only opened 10 years ago.

Where the south coast merges into the west coast is the small town of Baltimore. We liked it so much back then that we spontaneously spent two or three (?) nights there, in a small B&B right by the old harbour.

Sherkin Island Lighthouse
Sherkin Island Lighthouse (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

I was there again recently, on my motorbike. Baltimore has become much busier than it was back then, there were more visitors, there was construction and there are now more holiday homes and other accommodation. The former fishing village has now grown into a small town, but fortunately has managed to retain much of its charm.

This is partly due to the old harbour, which is a small sheltered bay within a larger bay. It is also due to the small but charming Baltimore Castle, which watches over the old harbour.

Baltimore Castle
Baltimore Castle (photo by Lisbeth Zeeman on Google Maps)

It is also located at the incredibly beautiful Baltimore Beacon, a whitewashed sea mark that shows ships and boats the way into Baltimore Bay.

And it’s on Sherkin Island, a beautiful island off Baltimore that you can explore by excursion boat or ferry. There are also other, smaller islands along the coast that you can see from the boat.

Boats near Baltimore
Boats near Baltimore (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

And then there is this fascinating landscape in which all this splendour is embedded: when you arrive in Baltimore from inland, you first drive over rocky hills, then catch sight of the Atlantic Ocean in its sheer endless expanse.

You see the island world of the south-west coast in front of you and then you roll down the hill and immerse yourself in the scenery that you previously overlooked from higher up. Simply beautiful!

The Baltimore Beacon is a little to the west of the old harbour. You follow the road until it ends and hope for a place where you can park.

Baltimore Beacon
Baltimore Beacon (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

There aren’t many of them, so in summer you should try to get here as early or late as possible and preferably during the week (not necessarily at the weekend). Outside the summer, it’s much less busy, like everywhere else on the coast, and then you won’t have a problem.

The advantage of fewer car parks is that the Beacon itself is not very busy! You climb up the little hill and if your camera was still in your bag before, you’ll pull it out now – guaranteed!

The view at the Beacon is so beautiful that I must have spent an hour just there. You can see Sherkin Island on the other shore. On the left, facing the Atlantic, you can see the old Sherkin Island Lighhouse. Further to the right, an old monastery ruin lies picturesquely between the hills. This is the Mainistir Inis Arcáin or Sherkin Monastery. It is located right next to the ferry terminal.

Sailing boat at Sherkin Island coast
Sailing boat at Sherkin Island coast (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

You are standing directly above beautiful cliffs that drop precipitously into the sea and the coasts around you also have wonderful cliff landscapes.

Why around you? Because from the Beacon you can not only look out over the Atlantic, but also backwards, into Baltimore Bay.

Fishing boats chug past you, a few sailing boats slowly approach and then just as slowly move away again. A few cows graze on the craggy rocks and an unbelievable calm lies over the beautiful scenery, interrupted only occasionally by the cries of seagulls circling overhead.

At the cliffs of Baltimore
At the cliffs of Baltimore (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

If you’re lucky, you might also see seals, dolphins or even a whale. The south-west coast is known for whales and dolphins that come close to the coast and you can also go on boat watching tours from Baltimore.

What to do and see in Baltimore

Baltimore Castle: Baltimore is located in the very south-west of Ireland and is one of the southernmost places on the island. It was originally called Baile an Tí Móir, which means place of the great house and refers to the castle above the harbour. You can visit the lovely little castle – see: https://www.baltimorecastle.ie.

Sherkin Island: The ferry to Sherkin Island leaves from below the castle and docks in Sherkin Island at the old Franciscan monastery from the 15th century. Sherkin Island has a few streets and houses, the old Sherkin Island Lighthouse. There is also a lovely sheltered bay and two beautiful sandy beaches, Cow Strand and Silver Strand, on the Atlantic side. See: https://www.sherkinferry.ie.

Scuba diving: The southwest coast is a paradise for divers and there is also a diving centre in Baltimore where you can go on beautiful diving trips. See: https://www.baltimorediving.com.

Photo: baltimorediving.com
Photo: baltimorediving.com

Whale and Dolphin Watching: Whale watching is big in Baltimore, there are several providers of whale watching tours and boat trips. See: https://baltimoreseasafari.ie, http://www.whalewatchwestcork.com, https://aquaventures.ie.

Sea Kayaking: The base of this provider is on Lough Hyne, a little way out of town. The lough is not a lake, but a bay that is open to the sea. See: https://www.atlanticseakayaking.com.

Photo: aquaventures.ie
Photo: aquaventures.ie


Conclusion

Baltimore is no longer the sleepy fishing town it once was, but has been discovered and developed for tourism over the years. However, it is still a very small town.

Although it’s busier in summer, it’s still a small, charming place on a small, charming harbour with lots of small, charming boats – nestled in a magnificent landscape of islands, bays, cliffs and rocky hills. I’ve been there twice – and would love to come back again!

I hope I’ve been able to make you a little curious about this beautiful part of the world and wish you lots of fun in Baltimore!

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Picture credits cover picture: Baltimore coast, photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tourswww.irland-insider.dewww.ireland-insider.com)

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg