Guarding the west side of Baltimore Harbour, Sherkin (Inis Arcáin, “Island of the Porpoise”) is a tranquil, pretty island that shares the mixed scrub and pastoral landscape of the mainland hereabouts. On a half-day stroll around the boot-shaped island, you could take in the highest point, Slievemore, to the southwest on the toe of the boot, and the best beaches, Trá Bawn, Trá Eoghan Mhór and Silver Strand, to the north of Slievemore. Ferries from Baltimore land at the easterly pier, behind which stands a plain fifteenth-century Franciscan abbey, with its fifteen-metre tower intact; you can still see the outline of its cloister and the walls of a curious seventeenth-century fish “palace”, where pilchards were salted and barrelled for export to Spain.

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