A brilliant staycation at Galley Head lighthouse, West Cork, Ireland surrounded by stunning scenery. The lighthouse is situated at the most southern point of the headland known as Dundeady Island and close to the town of Clonakilty.
Eight girls on tour staying in two private and interconnecting houses at Galley Head Lighthouse. Among us, Joanna Bourke, a Ballymaloe trained cook, who keeps us well fed and watered throughout! Check out Joanna’s fabulous food blog, The Chopping Board, for lots of great recipes and upcoming events.
Chilled out vibes are set as we approach the lighthouse driving along the rugged coastline with the beautiful, tall, white structure in the distance, striking against the blue sky and green fields. Up and around a long winding road towards the first locked gate that opens to a private road that takes you to another locked gate, which opens into the private property of the magnificent lighthouse. Stunning. It feels like we are the only people on the island of Ireland, and on this part, we are!
Four of us arrive on the first day with the remaining four arriving the next day. We are lucky with the weather on day one, a clear blue sky and a stunning sunset – a thick fog is forecast for the rest of the long weekend but it does not dampen our spirits.
We are greeted by Lighthouse keeper, Gerald Butler and his partner Maria, who show us around the accommodation and promise to give us a private tour of the lighthouse during our stay. The rooms and kitchens are good-sized with fantastic views of the sea and lighthouse. Fully furnished, utensils, dishwasher, towels, blankets etc., plus some books, jigsaws and board games but there is WiFi for those who do not want to escape from the world completely.
After settling in, we pack a small picnic bag with beer, wine, cheese, crackers, Pringles and fancy plastic wine cups (our Ballymaloe trained chef has not arrived yet!) and head off to explore the surrounding area. We meander back down the bendy road a short distance to the nearby cliffs, wrapping up warm and settling down to watch the beautiful sunset. In the distance, and as the sun goes down, the beam from the lighthouse is visible and breath-taking.
The walk back to the lighthouse is fun and a little eerie but the beaming light guiding us ‘home’ is reassuring. The fire is lit and we relax around the kitchen table catching up over wine. It’s a clear night, so we grab some blankets (and the wine) and lie on the ground outside looking up at the stars as the lighthouse beam rotates around the sky. It is beautiful. The only sound being the sea beneath us.
The following morning I wake up to spectacular views from my bedroom. The rest of the gang arrive and we get out and about to explore. Gerald stays true to his promise and comes back to give us a wonderful tour of the lighthouse – just before the fog rolls in.
The rest of the weekend is spent chilling, eating, catching up, enjoying great food, stories, music, singing, new friends, old friends, wine and more wine, open fires, walks and laughs, lots of laughs.
Throughout our stay I feel the ebb and flow of the sea and the energy from the lighthouse, even in the fog it shines brightly. I sleep better than I have slept in a long time. The energy among friends and place is electric and one of the best I have experienced.
Gerald has written a lovely book titled, ‘The Lightkeeper’ detailing his memories as a lightkeeper for Irish Lights and his experiences serving at many lighthouses on the Irish coast during his 21 year full-time career. An extraordinary story-teller and charming man, Gerald says: “The secret to staying happy is about being constantly curious, being open to new things and to go with the ebb and flow of life.” This lovely, short video of an interview with Gerald captures him and the stunning scenery around Galley Head perfectly!
If you are planning a break away with family or friends I cannot recommend a stay at Galley Head lighthouse highly enough! A magical experience. Galley Head is an Irish Landmark Trust property and to book a stay, check out their website. Also, check out the Great Lighthouses of Ireland website to find out more about the lighthouses on the island of Ireland.