Dursey Island: Ireland’s Cable Car Paradise

If you’re looking for the perfect way to kick off your summer, a scenic staycation to Dursey Island is the way to go! And if you’re looking for something a bit more special, a hidden island off Cork could be the perfect spot. That’s because the stunning Dursey Island is accessible by Ireland’s only cable car operated and maintained by Cork County Council.

The Dursey Island cable car is situated at the southwest tip of Beara Peninsula, West Cork, and provides a unique experience when travelling to and from the island. Opened in 1969, it is the only Irish cable car that traverses open sea water in Europe and can carry a maximum of six passengers, with a journey time of approximately fifteen minutes each way. The cable car rises approximately twenty-five metres above the sea. 

The Island has a length of 6.5km and a width of 1.5km. It is bordered on one side by a narrow body of water known as Dursey Sound, which has very strong tidal flows. The island has a reef in the middle of the sound which is submerged during high tides.

The island is sparsely populated with only a few semi-permanent residents. The cable car links the island to the mainland.

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Via Cork City Council


Originally, the island was divided into 3 villages, or ‘townlands’. These are on the east and west sides of the island respectively. These villages were Ballynagalliagh on the east and Kilmichael on the west. Many of the old buildings that made up these villages are still standing today. 

Dursey Island is renowned for its rich history, with the Signal Tower on the island’s highest point having been constructed over two hundred years ago as part of the Napoleonic wars. It is also home to the ruins of Kilmichael Church, which is believed to have been established by monks from the nearby Skellig Rock, as well as O’Sullivan Beare’s castle, from which islanders were famously thrown into the sea in 1602 by English soldiers. Visitors can explore the island on foot or by cycling, as well as take in the sights of Dursey Island Loop.

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The rich waters around Dursey are home to dolphins and whales, as well as a variety of seabird and butterfly species.

There are no shops or pubs on the island, so visitors should bring their own food and water. A coffee dock is available at a cable car landing during the summer months. There is also a bus service on the island.

Dursey Island

Via West Cork Islands

After more than a year of closure, Cork County Council has confirmed that the cable car will be re-opened within the next few weeks, meaning it will be open to the public throughout the summer.

Cork County Council said in a statement this week that they are in the final stages of carrying out load testing and carrying out detailed inspections.

They added that “until statutory inspections are completed early next week and the necessary consent has been given by the Commission for Railway Regulation, we will not be able to provide an official date for the re-opening.”

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Via Dursey Island Tours


1. Old Dursey Schoolhouse

This building was built in 1891 and served as the island’s national school for several decades. It has a long history and is one of the oldest buildings on the island. It is situated on a hillside and overlooks the second village. The building is the highest on the island and offers some of the most impressive and commanding views on the island.

The property has been completely renovated in the last few years. The open-plan accommodation sleeps 4 comfortably. Electric heating, all modern features and a wood-burning stove are available (wood supplied).

2. Harbour View B&B

Located on the mainland, just a short walk from the Dursey Island cable car station, Harbour View B & B provides comfortable accommodation with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Open year-round, there is still a working farm in the fields around the property. All rooms are en suite and include a TV, Wi-Fi and facilities for making tea and coffee.

Many tourists also choose to stay in Allihies, the final village stop along the Beara peninsula. This picturesque spot is renowned for its copper mining past, with a beautiful white sandy beach which was created from the crushing of quartz rock from which copper ore was mined. Another option is Eyeries, which is situated at the foot of Maulin mountain and is one of Ireland’s most colourful villages. It is about 30 minutes drive to the cable car pick-up point.

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Via Dursey Island

In conclusion, the cable car on Dursey Island offers a unique experience that connects people with nature and provides access to a remote and fascinating island. With careful maintenance and the commitment of the community, the cable car has been operating safely and reliably for decades. With its stunning views and its historical importance, the cable car is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Beara Peninsula.

Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for an adventure, the cable car at Dursey Island promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe and captivated by the stunning beauty of Ireland’s southwest coast. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to discover a hidden gem and experience the magic that is Dursey Island.

Luvya Bhatia
Luvya Bhatia

An upcoming M.Sc. Communication and Media student at University College Dublin, with a B.A. (Honours) in English Literature from Amity University, Noida, India. Previously worked as a travel journalist, content proofreader and social media intern in India with a number of different media organisations. Specialises in working on Travel and Lifestyle pieces for Babylon Radio.

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