The islands in Roaringwater Bay




Birds of the Islands

Seabird colonies breeding on several of the islands include Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull. Roaringwater Bay is also nationally important for their population of Black Guillemot Puffins and large number of breeding Terns. Furthermore, the area has an important concentration of Choughs and Peregrine Falcon; both birds are protected European wide.



The islands of Roaringwater Bay are particularly rich in plant species - 592 different flowering plants have been found in an area of only 10km. Grasslands, heath lands and rocky ground dominate the islands providing various environmental conditions to support the variety of plants.




The two mammal species protected under the EU Habitats Directive found in this area are otters and grey seals. Otters can be found in all types of wetland such as rivers, streams, lakes and coastal areas. They use hollow trees or dense vegetation as hideaway during the day or more permanent holts such as holes under tree roots. There are the two species of seals known to inhabit Ireland, the Grey Seal and the Common or Harbour Seal.





Roaringwater Bay is located in the extreme south west of Ireland and derives its name from the sound of the waters, powered by Atlantic gales, crashing against the numerous rocks and islands. Due to the strong influence of the Gulf Stream the climate is moist and mild. Strong winds can be expected, especially in winter but the area experiences little or no frost. Regular sightings of cetaceans include harbour porpoises, dolphins and whales. Cape Clear, Sherkin, Heir and Long Island enjoy a vibrant community life all year round.


Roaringwater Bay, also known as Carbery 100 Isles, contains various terrestrial and marine habitats. Five of these habitats are protected because of their importance at a European level. The protected marine habitats are the large shallow inlets and bays, the marine caves and the terrestrial habitats under protection are the heath and sea cliffs. The entire area is considered as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which gives the bay additional protection.

Roaringwater Bay


Most of the islands in Roaringwater Bay are formed from Old Red Sandstone, deposited approximately 350 million years ago during the Devonian age. The outcrops and erosion of these rock formations are responsible for the jagged scenery, which features cliffs and rough rocks. The entire area was glaciated during the Pleistocene approximately 10,000 years ago. The movements of the ice sheets left scratches on boulders, which are also called striae. Many of the islands contain narrow points, called waists, cutting them nearly in two as a result of sandstone erosion by the sea.


Our morning trips of 2.5 hours departing from Baltimore harbour are typically heating south of the islands first to try and spot whales and dolphins, whilst on the return leg we come back through Roaringwater Bay so that you can enjoy the views of the lovely land and seascape in this area of special designation. The afternoon tours are around 3.5 hours long. For large group bookings up to 75 passengers we can tailor the trip duration and location to your wishes including the islands of Roaringwater Bay, a stop over on Sherkin or Heir and a cruise on the river Ilen

These trips are subject to minimum numbers and weather dependant - therefore please check details beforehand. These trips can be prebooked by email or phone Rianne on 087 7961456.



In addition, there are regular year-round ferry services to the islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear from Baltimore's ferry pier and to Heir (or Hare) Island from Cunnamore Pier. For ferry details and timetables please use the following links:

Sherkin Island Ferry website

Cape Clear Ferry website

Heir Island Ferry website


Spanish Island

Inis Bhreac means Spotted or Striped Island. Spanish visitors often took residence here.

Quarantine Island

Quarantine Island was used for cattle quarantine from visiting ships, which might have contagious diseases.

Sandy Island

Oileán na Gaineamaha, does not contain any sand!

The Catalogues

Na Ceirtleoga meaning little balls of yarn or rags.

Heir Island

Inis Uí Drisceoil = O’Driscoll’s Island. Heir (or Hare) Island is accessible by boat all year round.

The current population is around 20 and Heir Island is well known for its sandy beaches.

The Skeams

The Skeams consist of two islands. Skeam East has an impressive rock arch on the western coast. Skeam West has a 9th Century church ruin.

Horse Island

Each Inis = Horse Island is a low-lying island situated east of Castle Island. The island can accommodate summer visitors since the refurbishment of old houses. Copper and other minerals were formerly mined on the island.

Castle Island

Meadhon Inis = Middle Island and derives its name from an O’Mahony castle, the ruins of which are near the east end.

The Calves

The West, Middle and East Calf Islands form a chain in the very centre of Roaringwater Bay. All three islands are exposed and treeless. The last inhabitants left only in the 1940s. East Calf is occupied in the summer.

Long Island

Inis Fhada = Long Island. This low lying island has a maximum elevation of 29m and is situated at the mouth of Schull Harbour. The only activity on the island is farming. The current population is around 10.

Sherkin Island

Inis Earcáin meaning island of the sea-pig or dolphin. This island is home to a historic Franciscan Friary and the ruins of an O'Driscoll clan castle, both of which date back to the 14th century. The diverse flora and fauna of the island, together with the intriguing rock formations, make Sherkin Island the gem of the West Cork Islands. Home to several world-renowned artists, writers and sculptors, visitors will enjoy the solitude and fun on Sherkin's wonderful sandy beaches at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, repairing to the island's hostelries for excellent artisan food and drink with the locals.

Cape Clear

Oileán Cléire = island of the clergy. Cape Clear is the largest and hilliest island in Roaringwater Bay situated 13km from Baltimore. The current population is around 130. The main income on the island is from farming, tourism and fishing.


The Carthy's

Oileáin Uí Charthaigh which means O’Carthy’s Island. It derives its name from an Irish clan inhabiting the west Cork area.



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