- For other places with the same name, see Baltimore (disambiguation).
Baltimore is a village in County Cork near the southwest tip of Ireland. The harbour is large, and sheltered by islands - several are inhabited and are also described on this page. The main reason to visit is for activities such as sailing, scuba-diving and sea-angling.
In the early 1600s the village thrived on pilchard fishing and piracy. Everyone was in on the piracy: the sailors, the law and customs officers, the landowners; probably even the pilchards were in on it. But in 1631 Baltimore was attacked by a rival band of pirates from North Africa; the village was destroyed, at least 100 were carried off into slavery, and the survivors fled inland to Skibbereen. The village was virtually abandoned until the 19th century, and its regeneration was hampered by famine and remoteness. It's nowadays a resort village with a population in 2016 of 232, but many more in summer.
By car leave N71 at Skibbereen and follow R595.
Get around the village itself on foot, and also the islands in the bay: they're too small to merit a bike. You need wheels to reach Skibbereen as the road is narrow and busy with no sidewalk.
1 Baltimore Harbour has foot-passenger ferries to the islands. The main routes sail daily year-round, as islanders depend on them eg to get to school; additional routes are summer only. There are no connecting ferries between the islands, you have to back-track via the mainland. No bicycles, but small cargo is carried: a sack of potatoes or a lobster pot would be €0.70.
- - Sherkin Island ferry sails hourly, 10 min. Adult return is €12, child €4.
- - Cape Clear ferry sails 2-4 times a day, 40 min. Adult return is €18, child €8. They also sail to Cape Clear from Schull, and operate trips to Fastnet.
- - Heir Island is usually reached by the 5 min ferry from 2 Cunnamore, which sails every 2 hours. Adult return is €6, child €3. The summer service from Baltimore didn't sail in 2020.
Cape Clear and Sherkin Island both have a minibus, which you don't need unless arriving with luggage and small children. The few cars on the islands are decrepit and wouldn't be legal on mainland roads.
- The harbour is the lively centrepiece of the village.
- 1 Dún na Séad Castle (Baltimore Castle). Daily 11:00-18:00. This castle overlooking the harbour has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. The name means "fort of the jewels", presumably because it collected taxes from visiting vessels. The present building is a tower house from 1620: it fell derelict in the 20th century then was restored as a private residence. It's partly open for visits, and the Great Hall has an exhibition on local piracy, but you mainly come for the views from the battlements. Adult €5.
- 2 Baltimore Beacon or "Lot's Wife" stands at the harbour entrance. Built in 1849, it's simply a day-mark and never had a light.
- 3 Spain Tower is a 19th century lookout, though it was Napoleon rather than Spain they were anxious about. The landowner has blocked access to the tower but you can admire the view. Also inaccessible is the "29 EIRE" marker 200 m south. These were set up around the coast during World War II, from #1 at Dundalk clockwise to #82 at Malin Head, to show aircraft that they were flying over neutral Ireland.
- 4 Lough Hyne 5 km east of the village is a lake almost completely closed off from the sea, so the tides rush in and out through rapids. It's a nature reserve.
- Carbery's Hundred Isles is the flowery name for the archipelago in Roaringwater Bay off Baltimore, though the number is more like 50 if you discount tide-washed rocks. Several are inhabited and can be reached by a short ferry ride. You can stay over, but they have limited accommodation or other facilities, so most visitors just day trip.
- 5 Sherkin Island has a ruined abbey and sandy beaches.
- 6 Cape Clear Island, 2 km further west, can also be reached from Schull. It has several standing stones, a passage tomb, a Napoleonic-era signal tower, and a museum and heritage centre.
- 7 Heir Island (or Hare) can also be reached from Cunnamore. It has beaches and a nature reserve.
- Ringarogy Island 1 km north of Baltimore is an island nowadays linked by road. It's just farmland.
- Inish Beg is a smaller island (the name's a clue) just north of Ringarogy. It's likewise farmland and linked to the mainland by road.
- Long Island or Inishfada is reached from Schull.
- 8 Fastnet is a wave-lashed islet with a lighthouse, 13 km beyond the Cork mainland, which gives its name to a sea area on BBC shipping forecasts. It's the most southerly point in Ireland and for many transatlantic emigrants it was their last glimpse of the old country. It's often used as the turnaround point in yacht races: best known is the Fastnet Race from Cowes (Isle of Wight) to Fastnet and back to Plymouth, 1126 km. (In 2021 the race finishes in Cherbourg). The main rock has been unpopulated since the lighthouse was automated in 1989, so you can probably guess the population of Little Fastnet 10 m south. Boat trips visit in summer from Baltimore and Schull - these are highly dependent on the weather, as Atlantic conditions can turn foul so quickly. A wind gust of 191 kph was recorded here in 2017, and in 1985 the lighthouse was hit by a 48 m wave. A storm during the 1979 Fastnet Race cost the lives of 15 competitors and 4 rescuers, sank five boats outright and overturned 75 more.
- Whale Watch West Cork have regular trips.
- Scuba diving operators are Baltimore Diving and Aquaventures, both near the harbour. All levels from recreational to technical, but this is dry-suit territory.
- Fastnet boat trips are run by Cape Clear Ferries. They sail from Baltimore via Cape Clear Island April-Sept, and from Schull July-Aug: all trips are highly dependent on the weather. The trip from Baltimore sails 2 or 3 days a week and takes 3 hours, €45 pp.
- Gala Convenience Store (aka Cotter's) by the harbour has groceries, newspapers and a cashpoint.
- La Jolie Brise, The Square, ☏ . Th-M 08:30-22:30. Pizzeria, eat outside for sea views. Run by Waterfront Hotel next door.
- Casey's of Baltimore does good seafood, see Sleep.
- Customs House, Baltimore P81 K291, ☏ . M 09:30-19:00, Tu-Sa 09:00-22:30, Su 09:30-16:00. Turkish-meets-Irish cuisine, gets great reviews.
- Glebe Gardens (next to Casey's). This was closed during 2020.
- 1 Rolf's Country House, The Hill, ☏ . Closed until March 2021. Clean welcoming hotel in an old farmhouse at edge of town, with great restaurant.
- 2 An Sibin, Rath (off R595 near bridge to Ringarogy), ☏ . Daily 11:00-00:00. Trad Irish restaurant.
- Bushe's Bar, The Square, ☏ . M-Sa 09:30-00:300, Su 12:30-23:30. Cracking little pub with great bar food and harbour view. They also have rooms.
- Other pubs are Algiers Inn, Jacob's Bar within Waterfront Hotel, and West Cork microbrewery part of Casey's Hotel.
- Cape Clear Distillery on that island produces gin. They don't offer tours.
- The nearest campsite and caravan park is in Skibbereen.
- Waterfront Hotel, The Square, ☏ . Small hotel right by the harbour, with bar, pizzeria and restaurant.
- Casey's of Baltimore, Baltimore P81 YW66, ☏ . Smart mid-range hotel with good restaurant, Casey's Cabin pub and micro-brewery. They also run the Townhouse B&B plus self-catering. B&B double €110.
- B&Bs include The Stone House, Fastnet House, Beacon Shore Guesthouse and The Slipway.
As of Nov 2020 you'll manage a mobile call in Baltimore itself with Three or Vodafone, but Eir has no signal. There's no coverage of the approach roads, countryside or islands. Important calls, eg to let your accommodation know of your approach, are best completed before leaving Skibbereen.
- All roads out lead through Skibbereen. East from there brings you into softer coastal country towards Clonakilty and eventually Cork.
- Turn west for Schull and Mizen Head.
- Bantry a few km north is a good base for all three western peninsulas: Mizen Head, Sheep's Head and Beara.