Dursey Island

Ireland has a cable car. Yes…..Ireland. Something we’d oft associate with Switzerland or Austria or North America and other alpine places with proper mountains and genuine altitude that can leave you out of breath, exists on the little island where I was born. Which way do cable cars travel? Up right? And down again of course. But what about sideways? From one side to another? That sounds weird and almost unnecessary, that’s why bridges were invented right?
Nevertheless, Ireland just so happens to have a side to side cable car. It’s located right down the bottom in West Cork and links the mainland to a little island called Dursey. Apparently it’s the only cable car that traverses open water in the whole of Europe, how’s that for bragging rights?
It was built in 1969 to serve the local residents of the island and assist them in bringing livestock across Dursey Sound which is a treacherous band of water that makes travelling by boat a risky affair. Livestock was still taken across in the cable car up until a few years ago but that doesn’t mean that humans are the only passengers that still avail of the service.
We arrived at the end of the road on a misty morning and got our first glimpse at the cable car and it’s structure. I always try to be nice to tourism businesses but jaysus this thing looks a bit rickety at first glance! The two pylons are incredibly rusty and the cabling and attachments to the cable car itself are oozing with grease. It does not fill you with confidence that’s for sure. We purchased our tickets and joined the queue of about 10 people and watched the car make its way slowly across Dursey Sound. 

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This fisherman clearly cares little for the dangers of Dursey Sound.
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Our chariot awaits….
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A rather windswept and scruffy looking Sparrow and its better presented chum.

As we waited in line, someone who was clearly a resident of Dursey Island made his way to the top of the queue, joined by his two other companions who proceeded to greet everyone in the line with a quick glance followed by a disinterested move to the next person waiting to board the cable car. As luck would have it, the group in front of us all wanted to go on the same journey together so we got upgraded and it was our turn next. We were going to be sharing the cable car with one of the locals and his two odd friends, excellent. 


The Cable Car pulled smoothly to a halt at our side of the cableway and the local nonchalantly hauled open the doors as he’d probably done dozens of times before. His two companions rushed inside and politely waited for him to enter and take his seat. We stepped inside and took the two spots next to the local. A couple took two more on the other side and another guy took the last remaining seat beside them. The friends of the local remained on the floor between us, eyeing us up and approaching us for cuddles. If we didn’t provide cuddles or ceased to pet them heavily and with great enthusiasm,  we would be dutifully ignored and cast aside for the next available human. Yes, the local’s companions were a pair of beautiful and oh so well behaved sheep dogs! Talk about lucking out on our first trip on the Dursey Island Cable Car! 

We continued to exchange pets and cuddles with the doggies all the way across Dursey Straight, so engaged were we that we neglected to even look out the window and were on the island before we knew it. The local swung the doors open and his dogs blasted out the door, ready to go play with some sheep. They were having the best day and so were we. 

We set off with the people from our car along with the previous group who were waiting for their friends. Making our way up the right side of the car park, we skirted the cliffs and continued onwards into the mist and the expanse of Dursey Island. It wasn’t long before we saw our first wooly friend and they paid us little notice except to briskly walk in the opposite direction as we approached. 
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Awwww who’s a good doggy?! These two were adorable.
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A beautiful little hidden cove on Dursey Island. You can see the cable car pylons on the right.
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Hmmmm either this sheep was having a good scratch or was hoping to earn some extra money…
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Sheep rule this island.
The other group slowed down and soon enough we were by ourselves and venturing further up and over the headland ahead of us. We had hoped to take in some clifftop views but the weather seemed to have different plans (It is Ireland after all) and before long we were debating whether it would be worthwhile continuing on and doing the full walk of the island.
We decided against it and made our way back down towards the first village we came across. The mist started to lift (of course it did) as we drew closer to civilisation and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll past some cottages and farm houses. Everywhere we looked, there would be a sheep or cow staring at you, either from a distant field or in someone’s garden, they certainly outnumbered the human populace which seemed rather sparse.
It turns out we did still manage to get something of a cliffwalk in as the main (only) road back to the cable car ran alongside some rather lovely coastline that we explored briefly and stopped to take a few photos. We enjoyed a brief chat with some cows and topped up on snacks and had a nice conversation with a lady who was manning a little pop-up sweet shop/cafe next to the cable car platform.

We watched the cable car lurch towards us and actually had the whole car to ourselves for the return leg, which was nice. Without the distraction of furry friends we were able to take a peak out the window and actually realise that we were slowly making our way across some rather choppy water in a rickety old cable car. The little prayer tacked to the wall inside the car provided scant comfort as no amount of prayer would help if this thing suddenly found itself careening towards the sea below. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we made it back the mainland, ready to continue the adventure around Ireland. 
We enjoyed a stunning drive around the rest of West Cork that day, even with the incredibly slow tourist drivers who must be the bane of existence for the locals who aren’t interested in taking it all in and just want to go about their business. All in all, a smashing day out and a really pleasant experience and again like Three Castle Head, not a place you read much about in the guidebooks. 
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You can just about make out the village in the mist.
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Plenty of pretty little birdies hiding out amongst the spiny hedgerows.
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The morning’s mist brought out the cobwebs nicely.
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Mowing the lawn.
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Why hello there.
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Another pretty birdy amongst the gorse.
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Peak hour on Dursey Island.
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Pretty gorse and chunky coastlines, it must be the Wild Atlantic Way.
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This idyllic spot is located near to a smaller island right next to Dursey that has a rather tragic and dark past.Β 
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Cheeky selfie onboard the cable car.
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Yeah nah that’s not gonna help much if shit hits the fan.
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Gemma taking care of the essentials by ordering fish and chips while the cable car ventures overhead.
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Gemma spotted these two poking out from the roof of a house on our way. Had to stop and take a closer look.Β 
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This beautiful part of West Cork reminded me a lot of the Sentinel Range back in Tasmania.
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Some fascinating geology whereby the rocks seem to literally bend around the coastline.

3 thoughts on “Dursey Island

  1. Good post. Next time you might start the E8 one of Europe’s long distance pathways beginning Dursey and ending in Istanbul. About 3k miles, maybe kilometers? Regards to Gemma.

  2. Good post. Next time you might start the E8 one of Europe’s long distance pathways beginning Dursey and ending in Istanbul. About 3k miles, maybe kilometers?

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