Lively Skibbereen, the soul of the south west, is a hive of activity and a town lit up by colourful, traditional shop fronts dotted along its bustling streets. This is the perfect pit stop for delicious sea food meals made from fresh local catch – or for a pint and a rousing music session in a traditional pub.

Steeped in history Skibbereen suffered very badly during the great Irish Famine and between 8,000 and 10,000 famine victims are buried in the Abbey Cemetery west of the town. The fascinating Skibbereen Heritage Centre, located in a beautifully restored old riverside gasworks building will bring you on an insightful and often sad journey through this tragic period in Irish history. The famous Irish patriot Jeremiah O’ Donovan Rossa, who spent a significant part of his life in Skibbereen, is commemorated in the attractive O’ Donovan Rossa Memorial Park, while a life size statue celebrating Canon James Goodman, a renowned collector of Irish music, stands in the grounds of Abbeystrewery Church.

Nestling in the fold of hills 7km from Skibbereen is Lough Hyne, Ireland’s first marine nature reserve with a salt water lake fed by the sea through a narrow tidal channel known as The Rapids. You can get closer to the Rapids on a kayak trip – or discover peace and tranquillity on a romantic moonlight paddle.

An area rich in flora and fauna, step it out for a hill walk boasting magnificent views. Just minutes from Skibbereen is the magical Liss Ard Country Estate where nature, art, modern luxury and elegance come together in perfect harmony.

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