Though isolated at the end of a stubby peninsula to the southwest of Skibbereen, BALTIMORE comes as a lively surprise, bustling with fishing and pleasure boats and ferries to Sherkin and Clear islands. In fine weather, there are few pleasanter spots in Cork than the small, sun-trap square above the harbour, filled with café and bar tables. Overlooking the square stands Dún na Séad, a thirteenth-century tower house that was the chief residence of the infamous pirates, the O’Driscolls, but fell into ruins from the end of the seventeenth century until its painstaking recent restoration as a private home. It’s worth a visit in summer (June to mid-Sept daily) to see the imposing great hall on the first floor and to take in the commanding views of the harbour and Roaringwater Bay from the battlements. Basking in the shelter of large inshore islands, the port is particularly busy during the regatta held in early August, but there’s also a fiddle festival in early May (wwww.fiddlefair.com) and a combined food and sailing festival during the last weekend in May (wwww.baltimorewoodenboatfestival.com).

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