The Cork Gaeltacht

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  • Aspects of County Cork

Irish language

The Gaeltacht of County Cork consists of four native Irish speaking communities in Baile Mhúirne (Ballyvourney), Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary), Cúil Aodha (Coolea) and Oileán Chléire (Clear Island).

The Cork Gaeltacht, or Múscraí as it is known locally, has a population of 3,530 people, which is 4 per cent of the total Gaeltacht population. It covers a geographical area of 262km squared. This represents 6% of the total Gaeltacht area.

Cape Clear Island

Cape Clear Island or Oileán Chléire is Ireland's most southerly island. It is a 45min boat trip from Baltimore or Schull in West Cork (about 8 miles away). The island is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and has a population of 120.

Cape Clear is divided into two halves by an isthmus, which is a narrow strip of land that is bordered on both sides by water. It is a very popular destination for bird watchers and the island is home to a bird observatory.

Cape Clear also hosts an international storytelling festival each year. The festival is packed with well-known storytellers who entertain the public with their well-crafted tales. There are also workshops organised for aspiring writers and live Irish music as well.

Similar to other Gaeltacht area, the island also runs summer courses for students looking to improve their Irish. These courses have been run since 1965 and as well as learning Irish, students are taught Irish dancing, drama, singing and games.


Múscraí is situated in the valley of the River Lee in West Cork. It is an area with a strong religious history, as churches and monasteries from the 6th century will prove. Guagán Barra was home to St. Finbarr (he founded Cork City) in the 7th century.

Guagán Barra is also home to a forest park which is 142 hectares in size. Strangely, there were hardly any trees planted there up until 1938. The main types of trees found there are lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce and Japanese lurch.

Guágan Barra is unusual among forest parks in that it provides drive around facilities for the motorist and a motor trail can be followed right along the ring road.