About Mizen Head
Mizen Head, in County Cork, is the most south-westerly point of Ireland, known for its dramatic scenery and bridge.
History of Mizen Head
The cliffs and rocks around Mizen Head are dangerous: in the 19th century, they had seen the deaths of many sailors, and the sinking of many ships – particularly problematic as the transatlantic shipping routes ran close by. In 1906, the Irish Lights Board sanctioned the opening of the Mizen Head Fog Signal Station in order to make the area safer by warning ships off the rocks. The station was automated in 1933, but three keepers remained living there on rotation until 1993.
In 1992, locals created the Mizen Head Tourism Co-operative Society in order lease the building and paths and to try and help keep employment in the area, and to drive tourism. The former signal station was transformed into an exhibition space examining the lives of the keepers, as well as detailing Mizen Head’s strategic importance in transatlantic shipping and communications. The 45m high bridge underwent major restoration work in 2005 in order to make it safe for pedestrians and visitors.
Mizen Head today
The cliffs and seascape around Mizen Head is truly spectacular: whether you visit in the summer with bright blue skies and a glittering ocean below, or on a moody, overcast autumn day, the dramatic cliffs and swelling oceans are worth taking in fully. Note that the bridge is closed during periods of high winds or particularly adverse weather, so don’t attempt to go at these times.
There’s a cafe and visitor centre on the mainland, which has exhibitions about wider local history and ecology, as well as the construction of the new Fastnet lighthouse. Allow half a day here for a decent bit of exploring and some clifftop walks.
Hours vary seasonally – the site is open daily from April – October, and some weekends outside of this. Check before making the journey down there.
Getting to Mizen Head
Mizen Head is a decent drive from the nearest decent-size towns – Bantry and Skibbereen. Located at the far end of the Mizen Peninsula, you’ll need to take the N71, before turning off onto the R591/2 (depending on which direction you’re coming from), following this to Goleen. From there, take Mizen Head Drive all the way to the very end of the peninsula. There’s ample parking. It’s nigh impossible to get here without your own transport unless you’re part of an organised tour group.