A Cork Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point

Galley Head

Galley Head Lighthouse County Cork

Galley Head near Roscarbery in County Cork is home to Galley Head Lighthouse which stands over 100 metres above the Atlantic ocean, and is separated from the mainland by an old Norman wall. The lighthouse was built in 1875 and in conjunction with it’s nearest neighbouring lighthouses at Old Head of Kinsale and Fastnet carries out an important function in guiding shipping along these coasts. It, along with the Fastnet lighthouse are two of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe.

The light from Galley Head lighthouse is unusual in that it also arcs landward because, it is believed, the Sultan of Turkey, who was visiting nearby Castle Freke at Rosscarbery wanted to see the light.

There are no public tours of the lighthouse but it is open during Heritage Week each year in late August. However, it is possible to stay in one of two restored lightkeepers cottages.

Nearby Beaches

This area of coastline offers wonderful expansive Atlantic views and is just minutes from Clonakilty. Galley Head lies between two beaches, Red Strand and Long Strand. Long Strand is about a mile and a half long (hence the name!) of sandy beach and dunes popular with surfers.

Red Strand is a great family beach with plenty of rock pools to explore.


Clonakilty itself is a great place to visit. It is known as a food lovers town and not just because of it’s famous Clonakility black pudding. It has a market each Friday where you can sample local organic produce. The restaurants in Clonakilty are spoiled for choice with cheese, wild foraged food, seafood, grass fed meat and organic vegetables of top quality all available locally. The town itself is pretty and well kept with meandering streets, great pubs and a vibrant music scene.

The next Discovery Point on the route is Toe Head Bay, a 45 minute drive from here. En route you will pass near Union Hall, a pretty fishing harbour, and Castletownsend both with a good selection of restaurants and accommodation.

View from Galley Head County Cork

How to get here

Galley Head County Cork