Ireland’s most loved poet, Seamus Heaney, was not the first to notice that the country’s late night radio fog reports, melancholy in tone, were a poem in themselves, and Mizen Head, at the furthest outcrop between Dunmanus and Roaring Water Bay, figures prominently in an evening’s somber Litany of danger points.
Opened in 1910, the Mizen Head Signal Station has guided many a wary craft through black Atlantic storms and perilous fog and away from wave-tortured rock. In 1993 the station was made automatic, and the Keeper’s House was turned into a visitors centre the following year. It is now a local attraction, with meticulous upkeep of the engine room, and special exhibitions devoted to birds and sea or stormy activity. Entrance is over a 58m concrete suspension bridge, built in 1908, which spans a deep chasm in the rock. From the summit of the head at 241m, views to the south and west give a taste of the tension the keeper must have felt on a wild night. You can also see Three Castle head, the ruins of the promontory fort of the O’Mahony chieftains.
On the north shore of Dunmanus Bay, Sheep’s Head lies at the tip of the peninsula, commanding splendid views of the Caha Mountains on the north side of Bantry Bay. A classic hidden gem on your tour of Ireland.