Live music and music festivals are a way of life in West Cork. Bantry holds an annual Chamber Music Festival every July. Ballydehob holds an annual Jazz festival. For traditional Irish music, the Masters of Tradition is held every August and the Chief O'Neill Music Festival is held in September.
In addition to annual festivals, live music can be enjoyed at many venues. The Mariner, The Westlodge Hotel, JJ’s and Ma Murphys offer diverse choices. Or try Levis Bar in Ballydehob.
For movie buffs, the Fastnet Film Festival is held in Schull every May.
During National Heritage week in August the Ellen Hutchins Festival is being held in Bantry, Glengarriff and Ballylickey. Ellen Hutchins was Ireland's first botanist and the festival celebrates her legacy with botanical walks, art exhibitions and demonstrations.
The West Cork Literary Festival is held every July in Bantry. This week long festival holds workshops and readings which include big names in the literary world. The festival this year hosted literary heavyweights Colm Toibin and Booker prize winner Anne Enright. Tickets for the event with Graham Norton sold out in record time.
Bantry's tourist office is a great resource for local information and attractions. Click this link to visit their informative website.
Whilst guests have the convenience of strolling straight out onto the glorious 18 hole Bantry Bay Golf Course, if they want to try other courses, Glengarriff's picturesque 9 hole course is a short drive away.
Walkers are spoilt for choice and can find a wealth of walks along the Wild Atlantic Way. Alternatively, there is a range of walks from short and easy to long and strenuous in the beautiful Glengarriff Nature Reserve and Gougane Barra National Park. Every June Bantry holds a Walking Festival. Pony trekking is another delightful way to explore the rugged countryside.
Water sports abound in the area. You can kayak with seals out of Glengarriff or scuba dive with dive centres in Schull and Baltimore. The West Cork Sailing Centre in Bantry offers sailing, kayaking and canoeing. Check out The Bantry Blueway for kayak and canoe trails. For anglers, sea and river fishing is also available.
There’s always the chance of seeing seals and otters in local harbours and rivers or you can take a boat trip to go whale and dolphin spotting.
Donnemark Falls is just a stone’s throw from Caher Lodge where you can see the Atlantic salmon leap up the waterfall on their way to their spawning grounds.
Bird lovers will find boundless opportunities to spot seabirds along the coastline. Closer to home, you can watch a variety of garden birds in Caher Lodge's gardens.
There are restaurants and cafes in and around Bantry to suit all tastes.
For delicious seafood dishes try The Fish Kitchen who source local produce including Bantry Bay mussels. (Their seafood chowder is the best we’ve ever tasted.) Looking for somewhere to eat within walking distance? Look no further than Donemark West for a superb dinner.
Organico, The Stuffed Olive and Mannings serve great lunchtime ranges of salads, innovative vegetarian options, cakes & pastries.
For something more traditional, try The Bake House in town for a simple lunch or Seaview House Hotel in Ballylickey for a traditional Irish dinner. If you want to push the boat out for a special event, dinner at Blairscove in Durrus might fit the bill.
The Friday market in Bantry is a must and a great way to sample an array of local produce.
Places to visit
The stately home which is Bantry House and Garden commands a fabulous site on the edge of Bantry Town overlooking Bantry Bay. Visitors can explore the gardens and house and learn about the history of the First Earl of Bantry and his family.
Take a short boat ride from Glengarriff to Garnish Island via the seal colony on Seal Island to explore the beautiful gardens and learn about the history of the island and the Bryce family.