West Cork is hosting 2 very classy festivals and they're a true feast for the senses
Brought to you by Discover Ireland.
What comes to mind when you think about West Cork?
Perhaps it's the gorgeously rugged coastlines, picture-perfect boreens (where a traffic jam is likely just a flock of sheep), sumptuous seafood - cooked to perfection in a delightful gastro-pub in Schull, Skibbereen or Bantry - or the outstanding hospitality.
West Cork has all of these and more.
It's not just a place of unspoiled natural beauty, but also a destination for those who love classical music and books, thanks to two sister festivals in Bantry that have become an indispensable part of summer along the Wild Atlantic Way.
First up, there's the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, which runs from June 28 until July 7. Audiences tend to return year after year because the music is divine and the venues are both intimate and atmospheric.
Some of Bantry's loveliest spots play host to classical musicians from both home and abroad with the stately Bantry House hosting several of the performances.
This wonderfully maintained mansion is over 300-years-old and its gardens are justly famous in the area. Its grand drawing room is the perfect place to listen to Beethoven, especially when combined with those sweeping views of Bantry Bay.
There's an all-star cast performing at the festival this year, including one of our finest home-grown pianists, Finghin Collins, and Christopher Marwood of RTÉ’s resident string quartet — the Vanbrugh Quartet — who was also the founder of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in 1996.
A week later, on July 12, the West Cork Literary Festival gets under way in the town until July 19, with much of the programme also centred on beautiful Bantry House.
In a country of book lovers where there is a huge choice of literary festivals to choose from, this one really captures the imagination. The Wild Atlantic Way location helps, of course — it's beautifully wild and it's the perfect place to awaken the senses — but so too does the outstanding roll-call of established and emerging authors on the programme this year.
Former President Mary Robinson and broadcaster Graham Norton — who grew up in West Cork — are among the marquee names taking part. Don't miss the acclaimed Sebastian Barry and crime writer Tana French, whose 'Dublin Murder' series is being adapted for a big-budget BBC television series.
Booking is now open for the 2019 West Cork Literary Festival! Graham Norton, Mary Robinson, Tracey Thorn, Joseph O'Connor, Laureate for Irish Fiction Sebastian Barry, Kit de Waal, Anne Carson and many more. https://t.co/TwQCoICQWb pic.twitter.com/BBTUWuFL5y
— West Cork Literary Festival (@wcorklitfest) 18 April 2019
The programme also includes up-and-coming writers like Sarah Davis Goff — publisher at the much admired Tramp Press — and Wendy Erskine.
There will be readings, signings and masterclasses and an opportunity to meet like-minded bookworms.
No matter which of the festivals takes your fancy, you'll be spoiled for things to do in this wonderfully scenic part of Ireland.
Motoring enthusiasts looking for a road trip with beauty at every turn should make the time for a journey around the Sheep’s Head peninsula.
Even better is to leave the car behind and take in the winding roads and undulating landscape on two wheels. You'll find yourself stopping repeatedly to gaze out at the Atlantic views, and you might be lucky enough to spot a whale.
No trip to the area is complete without a visit to Dursey Island. Getting there is an adventure in itself: you jump on board the country's only cable car. It's been running for 50 years and you will have photos to savour for a long time.
Foodies have long been spoiled for choice in this part of the country. West Cork is synonymous with farmhouse cheese, artisan producers and 'slow food' eats. It also has a disproportionately large number of superb restaurants featuring the best of seasonal produce as well as atmospheric pubs that serve sumptuous dishes to accompany their pints.
Get to Donemark West for a scrumptious (and a little plush) mix of Irish, seafood and European cuisine, and the Fish Kitchen for a whole host of foodie options including vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
One of the region's great food destinations is Schull. You'll have a world of choice when it comes to places to eat. Crookaven — the most south-westerly village in Ireland — is perfect for an alfresco drink with Atlantic views. You're bound to work up an appetite by taking a nature walk to Crookhaven Lighthouse too!
So whether you're into food, art or music, these two festivals are bound to make your break.
Brought to you by Discover Ireland
A festival makes your break, so click on the image below to discover even more things to do that'll make your break in Ireland something really special. Go to our festival hub here on Her to see more of what's happening too!