At the most south westerly point of Ireland is Mizen Head. This rocky outcrop is home to the Mizen Head Signal Station, a fog warning station for shipping built in the early twentieth century.
Mizen Head is one of those attractions that’s not hidden behind a velvet rope so it’s great fun for exploring. Ninety-nine steps lead down to the white-arched Mizen Footbridge which connects the signal station to the mainland and a treasure chest of dramatic photo opportunities. There are also numerous pathways that all lead to points giving slightly different wild coastal views, but all spectacular.
A visitor centre provides an exhibition for learning all about the lives of those stationed at the site in times gone by and on the Fastnet Lighthouse which lies a little further out into the ocean. There’s also a tour of the keeper’s cottage. So for an arduous journey, unlike Malin Head in the north, there is plenty to make the journey worthwhile.
As with lots of sightseeing in Ireland, it’s as much about the journey as the destination. Starting off from Cork, the pretty string of towns in West Cork or even Killarney, the bleakly beautiful drive to Mizen Head really does feel like starting off at the base of a triangle and heading towards the point. The roads get narrower (probably not too suitable for the novice driver), the views more windswept and signs of life sparser.
Just before arriving at Mizen Head is the lovely Barley Cove Beach. An excellent additional stop, this secluded spot in a sheltered bay offers a good sandy beach and nice views. After all, for a likely roundtrip of least three hours it’s wise not to pin your hopes on one experience with potential sea mist coming to mind.