Sheep's Head

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Sheep's Head, Bantry, County Cork, Ireland

'Sheep's Head is the headland at the end of the Sheep's Head peninsula, situated between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay in County Cork. It has also been known as 'Muntervary', from the Gaelic Rinn Mhuintir Bháire.

The peninsula is popular with walkers: the Sheep's Head Way, a long-distance walking train runs for 55 miles around the peninsula, following old tracks and roads. The trail is well signposted.

Offshore lies Owen's Island, and isle of about two and a half acres.


Sheep's Head Way, Bantry, County Cork, Ireland

The peninsula has three villages, Durrus (six miles from Bantry), Ahakista (twelve miles from Bantry), and Kilcrohane (sixteen miles from Bantry). Durrus has been identified as one of the key staging posts on the 'Wild Atlantic Way' driving route along the Irish coastline and here the renowned Durrus Cheese is made.


The peninsula was named as a European Destination of Excellence for Sustainable Tourism in 2009. In March 2015, the Sheep's Head won Silver at the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards, and was longlisted for 'Best Destination' in the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015.

The area's tourism cooperative won a special judge's commendation at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards in 2015.



  • Boulder Burial, Ballycomane
  • Burial Ground, Brahalish, Clashadoo, Coolcoulaghta, Dunbeacon, Kilvenogue,
  • Cairn, Coolcoulaghta, Moulinward
  • Castle, Dunbeacon
  • Church, Moulinward (in repair 1639; ruins 1699)
  • Fulacht Fiadha (cooking pit), Dunbeacon (Celtic Iron Age, 600 BC - 400 AD)
  • Graveyard, Moulinward
  • Holy Well, Dunbeacon
  • Mill Stone, Brahalish
  • Promontory fort, Coolcoulaghta (Celtic Iron Age, 600 BC - 400 AD)
  • Ring forts, Ballycomane, Brahalish, Clonee, Drumtahaneen, Dunbeacon, Gortyalassa, Kealties, Rushineska (Celtic Iron Age, 600 BC - 400 AD)
  • Shell Midden, Dunbeacon
  • Standing Stones (Gallauns), Ballycomane, Coolcoulaghta (Stone Pair, Bronze Age, 2200 - 600 BC, Kealties, Parkana)
  • Stone Row, Moulinward (Bronze Age 2200 - 600 BC
  • Stone Circle, Dunbeacon (Bronze Age 2200 - 600 BC)
  • Tower House (mediæval post 1200 AD), Rossmore (O'Mahony/McCarthy?)


  • Ardahill, Ardintenant, Caher, Caheragh, Derrycluvane, Drumnea, Faunmore, Gortalassa, Gortaneish, Killoveenogue, Knockroe, Raferigeen, Letter East, Rossnacaheragh, Tullig Ringfort (Celtic Iron Age, 600 BC - 400 AD)
  • Aughaleigue, Gouladoo, Laherandota, Letter East, Holy Well
  • Ballytransna, Kilcrohane, Cashel
  • Ardaneig, Caher, Farranamanagh, Gortnakilla, Killonoveenogue, Letter West, Kilcrohane, Burial Ground
  • Caherurlagh, Holed Stone for healing
  • Dooneen, Galladoo, Keelovenogue, Promontory Fort (Celtic Iron Age, 600 BC - 400 AD)
  • Dromnea, Bardic School Mediæval post 1200 AD, Ornamental Tower erected Lord Bandon, Holy Well (tober na nduanairidhe well of the poets), possible fulach fiadh
  • Farranmanagh, Stone Row Bronze Age, Children's Burial Ground, Souterrain, Tower house (O'Daly), Gallaun (standing stone
  • Gouladoo, Holy Well
  • Letter West, Children's Burial Ground
  • Kilcrohane, Souterrain
  • Signal Towers, Tooreen

Natural history

At Sheep's Head itself is a coastal heathland which includes rare plants Viola lactea (pale dog violet), Tuberaria guttata (spotted rock-rose) and also has choughs and fulmars.

The Sheep's Head peninsula contains Special Areas of Conservation for peregrine falcons and choughs.

Offshore, Owen's Island, an island of two and a half acres, is noted for wildlife.

In literature

  • Sheep's Head features as a central location in David Mitchell's 2014 novel The Bone Clocks, being referenced throughout and providing the setting for the book's final section. A character in that section, Mo Muntervary (also a main character in Mitchell's debut novel Ghostwritten), takes her surname from the headland.
  • Following his retirement from active writing, novelist of Irish descent JG Farrell moved to Sheep's Head, where he was later swept away to his death in a storm at the age of 44.


  • McCarthy, Ann: 'Under the Shadow of Seefin' (2001)
  • O'Mahony, Frank: 'Kilcrohane' (Book 1: Kilcrohane - the Holy Ground—Book 2: O'Mahony - the diary of Frank) (1990) p148
  • Westropp, Thomas Johnson: 'Fortified headlands and castles in western County Cork' Vol. 1: From Cape Clear to Dunmanus Bay. Dublin, 1915. (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy / C. Vol. 32, no. 17)
  • Grant, Donald: 'White Goats and Black Bees' (Joseph, 1975) ISBN 0-7181-1294-6
  • Keller, Wolfgang: 'Off the beaten track: the Sheep's Head Way as an example of rural tourism in the South West of Ireland' (University of Goettingen, 2003) 128 p. (Dipoloma thesis)
  • Walking:
    • Clarke, Amanda: 'Walking the Sheep's Head Way' (2014) ISBN 1500198552
    • Keane, Barry: 'The Beara, Sheep's Head, and Mizen Peninsulas: 40 walks and scrambles' (Collins Press, 1997) p 87 ISBN 1-898256-29-2

See also

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Sheep's Head)