Mizen Head Signal station – first and last contact with Europe

In the far south-west of Ireland, a rocky peninsula juts out into the Atlantic. On an offshore rock, an old radio station clings to the rock like a swallow’s nest – next stop America…

Mizen Head Signal Station
Mizen Head Signal Station (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Mizen Head is the name of the peninsula. And if you want to visit the Mizen Head Signal Station, you first have the full length of the peninsula in all its beauty before you. From Ballydehob, via Schull, Toormore and Goleen to Mizen Head.

None of these places mean anything to you? Never mind, most people probably do. A rocky ridge forms the backbone of the elongated peninsula. I curve along the narrow road in smaller and larger bends. Further and further to the south-west. To my right I can see the rocky hilltops, to my left the blue sea and in between meadows, pastures and individual houses.

Coast at Mizen Head
Coast at Mizen Head (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

The small villages along the way are quickly travelled through. Palm trees, hedges, another pasture, a few bends and rocks again. At the end of the headland it becomes flatter, but sea level is only reached once at Barleycove Beach, a beautiful bathing beach surrounded by green hills.

Otherwise, the land on the cliffs drops steeply and abruptly into the blue Atlantic. This is also the case at Mizen Head Signal Station, whose peculiar cliffs fascinate and inspire me!

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Visiting Mizen Head Signal Station

I park at the small visitor centre. There is a small shop and a small café and, most importantly, access to the path that leads along the cliffs to Signal Station.

There are two viewpoints along the way, one below the visitor centre and one behind the bridge. And then you can walk up the hill and enjoy the view of Signal Station, the cliffs and the sea from above.

Mizen Head Signal Station
Mizen Head Signal Station (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

A long bridge leads onto the rocky island in front of the station. It huddles against the rock as if it didn’t want to be blown away by the storm. The tour is nice, entertaining and informative.

Some background about Mizen Head Signal Station

The first bridge was built here in 1907 and a fog signalling system was installed in 1909. From then on, it warned shipping of the dangerous cliffs.

Mizen Head Signal Station
Mizen Head Signal Station (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

A radio mast was erected in 1931, which was automated around 60 years later. For a long time, this signal mast was the last radio contact that ships had with Europe before crossing the Atlantic to America. And conversely, for many ships from America, this was the first contact with Europe after several weeks at sea.

The site has been open to visitors since 2001. A small exhibition shows you life on the rock and the history of the signalling station. You can visit the small flat of the “Keeper” and admire the old radio equipment.

See also: https://mizenhead.ie/.

Bridge to Mizen Head Signal Station
Bridge to Mizen Head Signal Station (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

What else you can see in the area

Barleycove Beach is located close to the Mizen Head Visitor Centre. This is a beautiful, large, crescent-shaped sandy beach.

Barley Cove Beach at Mizen Head
Barley Cove Beach at Mizen Head (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

The ruins of Dunlough Castle are also very close by. A walk along a cliff path will take you there, where wonderful views await you!

Crookhaven Lighthouse is one of the beautiful old lighthouses in Ireland with a long tradition, dating back to 1843. Today you can spend the night there in a modern extension. See: https://crookhavenlighthouse.ie/.

On the R592 near Toormore, you will find a Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point in a bend, which is a beautiful viewpoint. Right next to it is the Altar Wedge Tomb, a thousand-year-old place of worship made of large boulders that looks like an altar.

To the south of the Mizen Head peninsula lies the beautiful town of Baltimore. There is a small castle to visit and the scenic Baltimore Beacon, a sea signal at the entrance to the bay. See also: https://www.baltimorecastle.ie/.

Cliffs at Mizen Head
Cliffs at Mizen Head (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


The drive across the peninsula is very beautiful and you can take various routes to the headland and back again. Mizen Head is busy, but there is much less hustle and bustle here than on the Ring of Kerry in summer, for example.

If you like it a little quieter (like me), Mizen Head is the place to be. The cliffs at Signal Station are really impressive and the little station is definitely worth a visit.

I’ll definitely be back again. And I wish you lots of fun on Mizen Head!

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Picture credits cover picture: Mizen Head Signal Station, 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