IRELAND is arguably one of the most scenic countries in the world, with its sprawling mountains, picturesque landscapes and glorious coastline.
No matter how much time you spend on this relatively small island, there will always be more to explore, and a great place to start is the little-known Sherkin Island.
Sherkin Island, also known as Inis Arcain, is located just ten minutes from the small fishing port of Baltimore in Cork and is just three miles long.
The island is home to about 100 people and is the ancestral home of the O’Driscoll clan.
There, visitors can find incredible beaches, fuchsia-lined lanes and magnificent views of the Atlantic.
DELVE INTO HISTORY
For those interested in history, Sherkin Island has an abundance to offer.
The oldest archaeological monument to date on the island is a Wedge Tomb located on the western end of the landmass near Sherkin Point,
Shaped like a box, the megalithic tomb is one of the most common from its age and dates back to around 2500 BC, providing evidence that there was human life on the island up to 4,500 years ago.
THE FRANCISCAN FRIARY
Known locally as ’The Abbey’, the Franciscan Friary is located overlooking the pier and was established in 1460 by Fineen O’ Driscoll, chieftain of the area.
The building had a turbulent past which saw the Friary and its residents at the forefront of reprisal on the O’Driscoll Chieftain in 1537.
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Most of The Franciscan Friary was laid to ruin by 1601 until in 1650 when Cromwellian soldiers confiscated it.
It was then given to the Beecher family, who became the island's most prominent landlords.
Sherkin Island has been the site of a number of archaeological digs over the years.
In the most recent dig, exotic Chinese porcelain dating back to the 16th century was discovered in an excavation of The Franciscan Friary.
DUN NA LONG
If all that history wasn’t enough, why not take a trip to Dun na Long castle built overlooking the entrance to Baltimore Harbour?
It has been suggested that an earlier castle may have been built on this site by the Norman family called Sliney and destroyed after the Battle of Callan; however, the earliest recording of the castle appears on Petty’s Down Survey map of 1658.
It is widely believed that the castle was a much larger complex then as its ruins stand today with blockhouses, a sloping pier and defensive walls.
For those looking to get up close and personal with wildlife, Sherkin is the perfect haven for you.
At night foxes and three species of bat can be found rambling around the field and in the night sky, while hares are occasionally seen during the day.
Otters are also frequent and are found along the entire coastline, with Grey Seals commonly seen from the west and southern shores, while Harbour Seal is the more familiar species in the north and east.
Common Dolphins can also be found along the coast, with Minke Whales often spotted daily just off the island.
Humpback Whales have become regular guests over the past decade, while Fin Whales, which can reach an incredible 30 metres in length, have also been spotted.
After a day filled with exploring and adventure, visitors can unwind at Sherkin North Shore with a delicious meal.
The centre also provides an ideal coastal location for training in yoga, art, mindfulness, team building, and a full range of group activities.
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If you fancy a few pints and a bite to eat, The Jolly Roger may be the place for you.
The pub promises a great atmosphere, with large south-facing windows boasting panoramic views of Sherkin Island and Baltimore’s cliffs, as well as ocean views.
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