A Cork Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point

Heir Island

Heir Island or Hare Island, also called Inishodriscol, is one of the Carbery’s Hundred Isles in Roaringwater Bay in the southwest of County Cork, Ireland.

It has a small population of approximately 30 people. The island is 2.5 km long and 1.5 km wide. It is the fourth largest of the local islands after Sherkin Island, Cape Clear Island and Long Island. There are no hills except for the slight incline up from the harbour but after that it’s a easy walk around the island. It is a peaceful and special place.

Where To Go on the Island

Head away from the harbour until you come to a cross roads. Take the left road to go down to the beach or go right to find a lovely little spot where you can treat yourself to a woodfired pizza at Pizzaheiria. If you go straight on from the crossroads you may walk to the very end of the island. This area is known as Paris. From here you can see Sherkin Island to the left and Cape Clear Island straight ahead. You should be able to also see Fasnet Rock in the distance with it’s lighthouse. To the right, looking out from Heir Island you can see the Mizen peninsula. Its a fabulous panoramic view, a great reward for a very easy hike.

The Babies Cemetery

Along the way you will pass the old schoolhouse and Gort NaCille, a graveyard for unbaptised babies. It is sad to think that, not so long ago, unbaptised children were not allowed to be buried in their family graves but instead were buried at night in a separate place. The inscription on the plaque says ‘A Cillin was a graveyard primarily used to bury unbaptised children. Unlike normal burials, internments in the cillin took place at night. The burial was usually carried out by the child’s father with the aid of a male relative or neighbour.’

Gort Na Coile on Heir Island

Wildlife & Nature

The island is home to a wide range of habitats from farmland, sandy beaches, rocky shore, heath, bog and salt-marsh. The native wild flowers are stunning in the summertime. Hedgerows of orange monbrieta, red fushia, white wild rose, purple thistle and red clover mix together in perfect harmony. There is a very healthy population of butterflies which is a joy to witness, long may it last.

Heir Island’s marshlands are home to many species of birds. Several migrant bird species may be spotted including Merlin, Purple & Curlew Sandpipers, Hen Harrier, Pintail, Black-necked Grebe and American Golden Plover.

Heir Island is the perfect spot for hiking, birdwatching and watching nature do its thing!

How to get to Heir Island

The passenger ferry ride over to Heir Island is only four minutes from Cunnamore Pier costing €6 per adult return or about 20 minutes from Baltimore (check locally for ferry prices).

The next stop on the route is Sherkin Island. You can get a ferry to Sherkin from Cunnamore Pier or Baltimore Harbour.