In the third of a series on Irish holiday destinations, Eimear McGovern stays in a yurt and goes whale watching in Ireland’s most southerly inhabited island
Situated alongside the Fastnet Rock, Oileáin Chléire is a Gaeltacht community populated by roughly one hundred people. It is home to a diverse group of people from around the world who have been attracted to the island’s beauty. The islanders call Ireland an island off the coast of Cape Clear.
Although Cape Clear has recently acquired a helipad, your average tourist will opt to travel on one of the three boats that sail to the island several times a day. Choose from a water taxi or the two ferry services from Schull and Baltimore. Upon arrival in the North
Harbour, Bus Chleire awaits to take you anywhere on the island for a fee of €2. Accommodation options include self-catering apartments, guest houses and more student-friendly alternatives, including a hostel and a campsite. The campsite is popular for its tepees and yurts that are available to rent on a nightly basis. The yurts suit those who are looking for a more luxurious trip, with double beds and hot plates included.
An Siopa Beag is the only shop on the island, which is also a restaurant, pub and café. However, this isn’t the only option for dining out. Ciarán Danny Mikes serves pub grub both indoors and in their beer garden, which overlooks the South Harbour.
Although Cape Clear is regarded as a peaceful place, there is never any shortage of nightlife. Club Chleire has live music on Tuesdays, while Cotters has karaoke every night during the summer months. All that aside, Cape Clear offers a wide range of activities for both tourists and regular visitors. Particularly popular are bird and whale watching, both for which the island is renowned. Just as popular are canoeing, hiking and story-telling festivals. A visit to the goat farm, where you can sample some of the delicious goats’ milk ice-cream and cheese, is a must, while the museum is interesting if history is more your thing.
A visit to Cape Clear Island is a magnificent, enjoyable and above all, undeniably unique experience.