The picturesque Copper Coast

If you’re travelling in the south-east of Ireland, then you should definitely take a drive along the Copper Coast…

Tankardstown Copper Mine and coast
Tankardstown Copper Mine and coast (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

A drive along the Copper Coast

The Sunny South East is the region in Ireland with the least rain and the most sunshine in Ireland. As the name suggests, it is located in the south-east of Ireland and includes the counties of Wexford, Kilkenny and Waterford.

South of Waterford there is a very popular coastal resort, the town of Tramore. If you follow the coast westwards from there towards Cork, you will drive along the Copper Coast for a good distance. Officially, this stretches for 17 kilometres from Kilfarrasy to Stradbally. In between and a little further inland lies the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark.

Fishing harbour at the Copper Coast
Fishing harbour at the Copper Coast (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

But let’s not be too precise and take a virtual trip from Dunmore East to Dungarvan today. Because even before and after the Geopark, this coast is just a dream!

I’ve been here several times on my motorbike, but of course you can also go by car.

While the east coast is mainly characterised by long, white sandy beaches, here on the south coast we find a wonderful mixture of rugged cliffs and some beautiful beaches. The small, winding coastal road does not always run directly along the water, but there are often new and marvellous views around every bend and on every hill!

Cliffs at the Copper Coast
Cliffs at the Copper Coast (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

If you have visited Waterford, you can take the R684 to Dunmore East from here. This small, cosy coastal town is beautifully situated at the end of a large bay. This is actually the mouth of the River Barrow into the Atlantic. On the other side, you can see a large lighthouse standing on the cliffs. This is the Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world and well worth seeing. You can find my article on Hook Lighthouse here:

We follow the coastal road to Tramore. This is a popular holiday resort on the coast, where it can get quite lively in summer, especially at weekends. There is a big funfair at the harbour with a Ferris wheel and all kinds of amusements. But even without the funfair, Tramore is well equipped for visitors: Eating, drinking, passing the time and staying overnight, all no problem.

I normally avoid places that are too busy, but Tramore has a very beautiful promenade that is really inviting for a coffee or a lunch break. The town is also still manageable in size and so are the crowds.

Tramore Beach
Tramore Beach (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

You can follow the R675 to Annestown or, like me, zigzag along Newtown Cove Swimming Beach on the very small roads to Annestown. Dunhill Castle is situated on a hill above Annestown. It is actually just the ruins of a castle, but from there you have a beautiful view of the landscape. See also:

From Annestown to Dunmore, cliffs and beaches follow each other again and again. Follow the winding road and stop in between, you can’t go wrong here!

A few particularly beautiful beaches on your way are Kilfarrasy Beach (before Annestown), Annestown Beach, Bunmahon Beach, Stradbally Cove and Clonea Beach before Dungarvan.

Beach at the Copper Coast
Beach at the Copper Coast (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

When you get to Tankardstown, you’ll see the ruins of an old copper mine on the side of the road. Make sure you stop here, take a look at the mine and take a walk along the cliff edge, because the cliffs here are super beautiful!

However, this is not the only copper mine on the Copper Coast, but more on that later.

We head via Bunmnahon and Stradbally to the small and beautiful harbour town of Dungarvan. Why beautiful? When you come off Abbeyside beach, you’ll see a beautiful bay in front of you, where many small boats are moored.

Dungarvan harbour
Dungarvan harbour (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

The actual harbour is on the opposite bank and the old town is right next to it. Cobblestones, cafés and restaurants with tables and chairs on the quay in front of the marina. In sunny weather, the atmosphere here is almost Mediterranean.

The small, old Dungarvan Castle is right next door and well worth a short visit. See:

Invigorated and refreshed, you can now continue along the coast via Youghal to Cobh and Cork, or wherever you feel like going. In any case, you have just discovered one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the south-east!

Dungarvan (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

The Copper Coast UNESCO Geopark

You will have noticed unique rock formations along the coast, for example at Kifarrasy Beach or Trá na mBó. And there are many more. These bear witness to volcanic activity under the sea and geological phenomena during the Ice Age.

The Geopark provides the framework for the protection and preservation of these unique landscapes, as well as research and education. Many types of fossils can be found in the rock here, as well as ores.

Old mining lore at Tankardstown Copper Mine
Old mining lore at Tankardstown Copper Mine (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

In the 18th century, copper mines were built here on the cliffs off Bunmahon and lead, tin and copper were mined. Around 1840, this was the most important mining area of the Empire – meaning the British Empire, which also ruled Ireland at the time. The mine shafts even reached several hundred metres under the sea.

Knockmahon was the first really large mine. It was later replaced by Tankardstown, which is still the best preserved mine today.

Tankardstown Copper Mine
Tankardstown Copper Mine (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

In Bunmahon you will find the Geopark Visitor Centre, which is interestingly housed in an old church. You can book guided tours here or get information material and go on a discovery tour yourself. You can also find lots of interesting information on the Geopark’s website. See:


Do you know the TV series “Poldark”? It’s set on the picturesque cliffs of Cornwall in England and is about mines whose shafts reach under the sea. Here on the Copper Coast in Ireland, you’ll be reminded of it! The cliffs and beaches are extraordinary and the copper mines add a very special touch.

I’ve always really enjoyed my trips to the Copper Coast and I’m sure you’ll love it there too – and I hope you have lots of fun!

Cliffs at the Copper Coast
Cliffs at the Copper Coast (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

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Picture credits cover picture: Coastal Road at the Copper Coast, photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (

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