Hook Head is entirely exposed to the elements, serene in good weather – though very dangerous for swimming – and excitingly wild in a storm. The rocky shoreline has a wealth of fossils and it’s a popular location for birdwatchers, who visit to spot migrations, as well as whale- and dolphin-watchers. The Hook Lighthouse was built by William Marshall in the early thirteenth century to guide ships safely into the Barrow estuary on their way to his thriving port of New Ross, replacing an earlier beacon. Apart from a short period during the 1600s, it has functioned ever since and became fully automated in 1996. Guided tours lead to the lighthouse’s top, some 36 metres high, and recount its history, paying note to the monks who were the first light-keepers here.