Things to do


Join skipper Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch to experience some of the best whale watching in the North Atlantic. Colin is Ireland’s longest established whale watch operator and has been enthralling wildlife enthusiasts and visitors to West Cork since he commenced whale watching in 2001.
Trips depart from Reen Pier, 5 minutes outside Union Hall.   Colin has been observing whales and dolphins off the Cork coast in a maritime career spanning over 45 years. Colin’s passion for the marine environment, combined with his unique ability to find whales are legendary. The Cork Whale Watch team has over 60 years of experience observing and researching whales along the Cork coast, and is the only operator to offer year-round, dedicated, whale watching trips.
Cork Whale Watch actively support whale and dolphin conservation in Ireland by reporting sightings to the Irish Cetacean Sighting Scheme. Colin has co-authored scientific publications on fin and humpback whales along the Irish South coast and is an advocate of sustainable fisheries management. Colin’s whale watching trips have featured on many Natural History programmes such as: RTE’s “Wild Trials”, “Living the Wildlife” and “Wild Journeys”, BBC “Autumnwatch”, “Winterwatch”, the “Great British Year”. See our 5 Star reviews on Tripadvisor.
Our rates are as follows:  
  • Adults €50
  • 3rd level student €40 (valid student card),
  • Children (under 18 years): €40 1st child, €30 (2nd child and any others)
For bookings, see or Ph. 00 353 (0)86 3850568 or visit us on Facebook


Enjoy half day and full day Kayak Marine Safaris, exploring the beautiful coastline, nighttime kayaking tours, island trips and much more. Visit or contact Jim Kennedy on 028 21058. Atlantic Sea Kayaking are based at Reen Pier Between March and the beginning of July, in the twilight before sun rise, beautiful bird songs fill the air of forests, hedgerows, parks and gardens throughout Ireland. Bird calls can be heard at various times through the day. The sounds that create the internationally celebrated Dawn Chorus are different, these are called bird songs. Before the sun rises, birds cannot search for food as it is too dark. Instead they defend and mark out their territory, and attract female mates as it is the males who generally sing their unique bird songs. In parts of Ireland with a bit of careful listening you can pick out many different bird songs from a whole chorus. We are lucky in West Cork to have one such magical place. It is a sheltered inlet surrounded on both sides by woods and has a natural echo so the sounds are magnified. There is nothing more beautiful than to drift unobtrusively in a kayak and listen to the birds world wakening up with the dawn. When we finish our trip Carol's Cafe in Union Hall opens extra early for us to have breakfast . Duration: approx 2 hours. Times: Every Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday morning from March to July. 45 Minutes before dawn. Price: €45 p/p, 10 % for group of 10 or more. Suitable for all. Available any morning for groups of 4 or more people. You can also experience a full, half day or moonlight trip, Seaweed Foraging Trip and Certified Training Courses Contact Jim Kennedy email:


The presence of Mackerel at the pier is a great bit of excitement for young kids. You can denote their close proximity by the peculiar ripple on the surface of the water. It’s been known to happen at certain times in the year so much Mackerel comes into the Union Hall pier area you can literally put your hand into the water and pick them out. Although this is often to the disappointment of the true fisherman it can be a great thrill to young children. It’s an amazing site to see the fish flapping around being chased by dogfish and the likes. Many a days have been happily spent crab fishing at the pier. If the tide is out you have great opportunities to find lug worm on the sand. You may be lucky enough to find some scallop, mussles or razor clams either washed up by the tide or having fallen from the sky by a seagull. There are a number of well orgaised lakes in the area that are used for fishing. Shreelane Lake in Shepperton stocks Trout while other species are found in the nearby Lough Ine or Rivers like Roury River and the Ilen River.


Situated approximately 1km away, Glandore Harbour Yacht Club was founded in 1985 by a group of sailing enthusiasts from the shores of Glandore Harbour and further afield. In the 25 years of its existence the Club has developed steadily to become an important part ofthe sporting, cultural and social life of the area. The Club offers a sailing and training programme for Cruisers, Keelboats and Dinghies between May and September. Membership is growing and new members are always welcome. Our unofficial clubhouse is The Glandore Inn, where you will find us after sailing most Sunday afternoons from May to September. Glandore Harbour offers visitor moorings and is the gateway to West cruising. There are club racing fixtures during the season - from May to September. The highlights of this are the SCORA championship Regatta on the June Bank Holiday Week-end, the village Regatta – which dates back to 1830 - in mid-August, and a Dragon championship most years. In addition there is the Classic Regatta, every second year, usually held in July. The Classic Boat Regatta was first run in 1992 and the 10th Classic Regatta takes place in July 2011. This has developed into an outstanding event where the masterpieces of the great age of sail mingle with traditional West Cork sailing workboats for a week of sailing and spectacle. The closing parade of sail and fireworks display have become a ‘must-see' on the sailing calendar.


Union Hall is surrounded by the sea and hides many coves where it is possible to have your own private beach.  The coves and inlets around Union Hall are ideal for exploring the sea life of West Cork. Rock pools abound and are full of shrimp, guppies, sea-anemones, hermit crabs and periwinkles.  Collecting treasure can provide hours of fun even in the rain!   Going to the beach around Union Hall is less about the bucket and spade and more about a shrimp net and a crab line.  It is important with some of the coves to check the tide to ensure there is enough beach.  The wind direction can also make a big difference as to how pleasant your day is.  Be prepared to shift beach if the wind is blowing the wrong way!  Click on this link to check the tide times.
Keelbeg Strand
Location:  Next to the main fishing pier
If it’s sand you are looking for one of the more popular spots is on the far side of the old pier at Keelbeg.  This is a lovely sandy beach with easy parking.  When the tide is in full, there is only a small beach but when out it reveals a lovely sandy strand.  It is very popular with locals and it is always very social where you can be guaranteed the loan of a bucket if you forget your own.  If you have older children, with the tide in, it makes a wonderful spot for jumping and canon balling.  Hours of fun for older children and teenagers.  The pier is also a great place for crab fishing.  It is attached to the pier, so there is always loads to see.  A tap at the top of the pier means that you don’t have to take the whole beach home with you.

The Cusheen
Location:  Head out for Reen Pier and take a left at the League continue along the road until you come to a double gate which is private property.  The right of way to the beach is just at this point.
A wonderful hidden sandy cove complete with it’s own cave.  This is a gem of a strand but not easy to get to.  There is lovely sand, rocks to sunbathe on, very clean and (relatively!) warm water.  It is almost always sheltered here.  There is only very limited parking (maximum two cars) and the walk down is not suitable for very small children.  The path leads down through fuchsia and honeysuckle hedges but is very narrow and watch out for nettles! You really need to check the tides for this beach.  When the tide is in, there is no beach. You need to plan your visit for when the tide is going out and this will give you maximum time on the beach.  It is perfect to reach it by Kayak from Myross slip.  For the very agile it is possible to walk to Myross over the rocks from the Cusheen.

Myross Slip
Location at Myross Island, to the right as you cross Myross Bridge
This is a very popular place with my children.  You can have hours of fun crab fishing off the bridge and when the tide is out you can walk along the beach and rocks to find many private inlets. There is no sand here just wonderful clean gravel!  A great area to find marine life.  The water off the slip is quiet warm for swimming and when the tide is in full, the slip is great for jumping off.  There is no problem to park here.

Reen Pier
On the far side of Reen Pier there is a small gravel strand with lovely water for swimming when the tide is in.  When the tide goes out, it is possible to walk for a long way out the headland while looking over at Castletownshend.  Also with the tide out, children may really enjoy playing under the pier.  This is a great place to collect periwinkles. Colin Barnes takes anglers and whale watchers out from this pier, so if you time it right you may get to see some wonderful fish being brought in.  Joe Neill also lands his catch here, and children are fascinated to see his catch of brown crabs.

The League
The League is a wonderful place to take small children.  It is a spit out into the sea surrounded by water with beautiful views up to Rineen and down Castlehaven harbour out to the Stags.  As you arrive at the league there is a gravel beach on the left.  (The right hand side is muddy and not as nice).  This beach provides loads of shells to be collected and shiny bits of sea glass.  Parking is very easy on the league and you have a good vision of your children if they wander off.  Jim Kennedy often takes Kayaking groups from here and they add some atmosphere as they head off.   Many people walk their dogs on the League and it can be a very social place to meet locals.

Squince Beach
Location:  Myross Island
This is the finest beach in the Union Hall area and ticks most of the boxes.  This beach is of fine gravel and spans  400m.  There is always beach here regardless of the tide.  When the tide is out, there is access to some wonderful rock climbing and rock pools.  This is a very popular strand with locals as there is plenty car parking and it is an excellent place to keep kayaks and very safe for children to practise.  There is a wonderful view over to Rabbit island from the strand.  While the water is always cold here (our opinion), it is also very clean.  Check it out!

Tra Lan
Location:  Take a left at the old School House, keep going until you reach a t-junction and take a left
This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in Union Hall.  It has lovely soft gravel, the best view and the cleanest water.  The access road is extremely narrow and steep and parking is very limited  which makes it off limits for nervous drivers.  It offers a beach on both sides so regardless of the direction of the wind you should be able to find a sheltered spot.  There is only limited beach when the tide is in full.  However what a beach when the tide is out!  It comes complete with very manageable rocks for children to climb and caves to explore.  Again looking over at Rabbit Island, it is possible from here to see all kinds of bird life.

Blind Harbour
There are two beaches on Blind Harbour.
Blind Harbour Sandy Beach
Location:  Head for Reen pier and just before the pier, take the upper road to the left (cul de sac) and follow to the end.
This is strand you will either love or hate!  I believe it is ideal for small children.  The parking is easy with no walk to the strand.   It is a relatively long strand with stones on the top and then a type of sand/mud.  It is a very shallow strand and does not get deep. It makes the water that bit warmer.  It is easy for children to walk on.  Not a popular beach with locals so you should have it to yourself.   On a fine day, it is possible to spend hours here.

Blind Harbour Gravel Beach
Location: Heading for Reen Pier, take a left at the League
There is no parking on this beach so mostly we park on the League and walk over as there is little traffic on the road and it adds to the outing.  The access to the beach has been cleared and it is now very easy to reach.  It is a gravel beach and little used.   It is however an excellent place to relax and very sheltered.  My children enjoy lifting the rocks here when the tide is out to find crabs  and there are many shells on the beach to collect.

Location:  Go left at St Brigid’s Church and continue straight all the way to the sea!
Carrigillihy is another stony beach with a wonderful view out the harbour to the Stack of Beans and Rabbit Island.  It is a very colourful harbour in the summer full of small boats.  There is plenty of parking just above the beach and a monument to those lost at sea.  The beach is made for pottering around on and it is possible to dig for clams here.  A beautiful harbour!


Community Centre Playground and Tennis Court. Situated within the village. Tennis camps usually available each summer. West Cork Quad Adventures , Castletownshend, Skibbereen Contact Skibbereen Farmers’ Market - every Saturday - (9:30am - 1:30pm) Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland. Golf Course Licknavar, Skibbereen 028 21227 18 hole, 5,967 yard course, set against the backdrop of the beautiful, internationally renowned Lough Hyne. The courses ‘Amen Corner’ is challenging and has outfoxed many visitors. Rosscarbery Golf Range 023 48054 Proprietors: Geoffrey & Mary Wycherley Indoor and Outdoor Bays Golf Lessons (By Appointment) Club Hire Panoramic Views Automatic Ball Machine in Operation Open Daily -- All Year Round Canoe, Pedal & Row Boat Hire The lagoon 0877462720 A day out at ROSS LEISURE is a day of fun for all the family. Located on a picturesque lagoon that is just 3ft deep, you can paddle and row to your heart's content, admire the incredible birdlife or relax over a coffee with a delicious homemade cake or an ice-cream in our coffee shop. Safety is our number one priority and our staff are all trained in water safety best practices and first aid. Cinema West Cork, Link Road, Clonakilty 023 34141353 The Quay, Bantry - 027 55777 Bantry - Indoor Swimming Pool Rosscarbery Co Cork Tel: 023 8848722 Dunmanway 023 8845349 Baltimore 028 20622


  • Cape Clear Island – ferry runs daily from Baltimore and Schull
  • Sherkin Island – ferry runs daily from Baltimore
  • Fastnet Rock Lighthouse – Ireland's most south westerly point – days trips available
  • Garnish Island – ferry runs daily from Glengarrif March – October
  • Bere Island – ferry runs daily from Castletownbere
  • Whiddy Island – ferry runs daily from Bantry Pier ◦Dursey Ieland – Ireland’s only cable car runs daily from the Beara Peninsula


  • Mizen Head Visitor Centre Goleen, West Cork 028 35591
  • Model Railway Village Clonakilty, West Cork 023 33224
  • Ceim Hill Museum - Contact Theresa O' Mahony 028 36280
  • Heritage Centre & Famine Museum – Upper Bridge Street, Skibbereen, West Cork 028 40900 Housed in the beautifully restored, award winning Gasworks Building. For those on a quest to unravel family history or strike gold, you can access not just census and population records, but a comprehensive, store of local and national church records
  • Schull Planetarium Colla Road, Schull, West Cork 028 28552


For those looking for something a little different, there is a spectacular selections of well organised events and festivals throughout the year. For a snapshot of festivals that Cork has to offer Each July, Union Hall has it’s very own festival. Last year there was a great selection of fun & frolicks on offer. How some of the participants survived to tell the tale we will never know. Shore/Sea fishing competitions, crab fishing, fun races, fish filleting competitions etc. all on offer. Never a dull moment!

Other festivals include:
  • Skibbereen Arts Festival
  • West Cork Chamber Music Festival
  • West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry
  • St. Barrahane's Church festival of music, Castletownshend, Co. Cork, +353 (0)28-36193 or +353 (0)28-33752, email
  • Cork X Southwest
  • A taste of West Cork Food Festival. Unique mix of food markets, demonstrations, cookery competitions, brunches & banquets, childrens' events and more.