Ireland: West Cork Rowing


Ireland: West Cork Rowing

Duration :   7 Days 6 Nights
Max People :    14
Start Location:   Cork, Ireland

Rivers, Harbours and Islands

We love Ireland, and are thrilled to offer an Ireland rowing tour in County Cork. It is a lovely sampler of some of the best that Ireland has to offer. We begin with a visit to Cork City and a row on the River Lee. Skibbereen, on the River Ilen, is the home of the famous and funny O’Donovan brothers, who won the first Olympic rowing medal for Ireland at Rio 2016. They entertained the world by describing their race strategy as “eat steak and spuds and pull like a dog”.  We will have a more leisurely approach, taking time to enjoy the magnificent scenery we will pass on our rows out of Kinsale and Baltimore, exploring the sheltered harbour, islands and coastline.  We might eat some steak and spuds, but the seafood is magnificent. Enjoy a new and different taste of Ireland.

Pirates Bring a Ireland Rowing Tour Connection

Here is a good trivia question: why does Baltimore, Ireland have a pub called Algiers Inn? Yes, as in Algeria on the Barberry Coast of North Africa. The answer: pirates.  Back in June of 1631, Baltimore was sacked by a band of Moroccan, Dutch, Algerian and Ottoman Turk pirates. The objective was the capture of slaves, and more than 100 villagers were captured, most never to see Ireland again. Apparently some lived out their days as galley slaves, “rowing for decades without ever setting foot on shore”. That is probably too much rowing. We won’t do that.

Cliffs, Pebble Beaches and Sea Birds

In addition to the rich history of the towns and villages in this part of Co. Cork, a big attraction is the sheer beauty of the scenery. Cliffs plunge to the sea, islands dot harbours and follow the coast while in between little beaches entice you to stroll. Look-outs and headlands offer views inland over green rolling hills laced with trees, stone fences and winding lanes. Seaward are the great shipping channels and yacht racing courses of the untamed Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can stay on shore and explore the Wild Atlantic Way. We will use the shelter of the rivers, islands and lakes to get a wonderful taste of easy river and coastal rowing in spectacular scenery.

Read some of our blog posts about this trip:

How to Choose: Italy or Ireland?

Ireland’s West Cork through Rowing – memories of June 2023 coastal adventure.

Trip Details

Single Supplement$635$875€605
Fully independent non-rower$1,995$2,755€1,900
Semi-guided non-rower$2,480$3,265€2,255

Non-rowing companions welcomed. Program for non-rowing companions includes cycling, walking, kayaking and sightseeing options. To learn the difference between fully independent and semi-guided companion option check out our FAQs.

Difficulty & Daily DistancesBoatsGroup Size

15-25 km per day
Coastal coxed quadsMinimum is 8 rowers, maximum 14


  • Six nights’ accommodation in a charming town inn, a spa hotel, as well as a chic city hotel
  • Five days of rowing
  • All breakfasts and lunches (except arrival and departure days), four dinners (beverages and alcohol not included, with the exception of the welcome drink)
  • Use of quality coastal rowing shells and coxed touring quads
  • Guide services and tour support. Trip guided by Ruth Marr, Hans-Jürgen Koch and experienced local coastal rowers.
  • Transfers within the tour region
  • Additional cultural visits and alternate activities for poor weather days

Weather and tides are important factors in this region, which may mean that the itinerary must be modified from what is indicated here. In particular the sequence of the rowing from Baltimore could vary. Safety is a priority. The trip involves coastal rowing, and while the boats are very stable and adaptable to many conditions, we will select each day’s row based on wind, waves and weather. This trip is perfect for classic (flatwater) rowers who wish to experience a bit of coastal rowing – in a safe environment with experienced coxswains and without the extremes that some coastal races and events offer.

Schedule Details

Day 1

Arrival in Cork. There is a lot to enjoy in Ireland’s second largest city. History and culture is everywhere to experience, perhaps best done by strolling the distinct districts and sampling its food and pubs. But leave room for our welcome dinner with a briefing for the week ahead.

Day 2

The rowing begins. After breakfast, we will explore Cork from the River Lee, out of a base at Shandon Boat Club or an alternate location in the area. The tides and wind will determine the final itinerary, but we should be able to row both upriver through the downtown as well as heading downriver towards Cobh. This is the setting for the famous, or maybe we should say infamous, Ocean to City race. Originally conceived as a traditional fixed boat race, modeled after London’s Great River Race, all manner of rowing shells are now welcomed. There is a real history of hard rowing in this area! Our paddle will be significantly more relaxing, followed by a pleasant lunch. Relax for the rest of the afternoon, with dinner on your own.

Day 3

The Bandon River rises in the Shehy Mountains in west Cork and flows east through Dunmanway, Ballineen, Enniskeane, Bandon and Innishannon to Kinsale Harbour.  We will commence our journey at Innishannon and meander through the countryside, for around 15km, until we reach the sea at Kinsale.

We will tour the inner and outer harbour capturing amazing views of this historic Irish town. Kinsale is either at the start or end of the Wild Atlantic Way, depending on your direction of travel. It is often referred to as the gourmet capital of Ireland, and is famous for its scenic harbour and yachting marina, narrow streets with quaint colourful shops, restaurants, art galleries. History is evident with the solid presence of Charles Fort and stories swirling around the Battle of Kinsale.

Day 4

We will drive in the morning to get to West Cork. A rowing tour of West Cork would not be complete without experiencing the open water of the Atlantic Ocean and where better to set off from than Courtmacsherry Rowing Club located at the mouth of Courtmacsherry Harbour.

Courtmacsherry is a gorgeous fishing village nestled amongst the coves and beaches of the Seven Heads Peninsula. Maritime history is central to the village. The first lifeboat was established in Courtmacsherry in 1825 – one of the first to be found in Ireland. Over 100 years ago, the crew of the RNLI lifeboat Kweiza Gwilt rowed for more than three hours to make it to the sinking of the Lusitania. Courtmacsherry was also home to adventurers, down through the years. A local man Patrick Keohane, was part of R.F. Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica. After our row and exploration, we travel on to Baltimore and settle in for the rest of the tour. 

Day 5

Today we row between the Skibbereen Rowing Club and Baltimore. The clubhouse is a modest building for the fabulous success that it can claim. Our coastal rowing quads will be waiting for us here. We will launch and row down River Ilen to the sea. Timing the tides just right means that we can take a lovely little branch of the river, only passable at high tide. We will row the boats to Baltimore. We will wrap up the day with a walk to the Baltimore Beacon, also known as Lot’s Wife, guarding the headland. Alternately we might begin in Baltimore and end in Skibbereen, all depending on tide and water conditions. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Day 6

Today is our opportunity to enjoy the local waters of Baltimore on this Ireland rowing tour. We will explore the Carbery Islands, rowing around Sherkin, Heir and the Sceams. We will be able to land on various beaches, with our non-rowing friends joining us by ferry for a picnic lunch. Once the boats are back and washed, it is a short stroll from the harbour up to Bushe’s Bar. It is packed to the hilt with seafaring paraphernalia. There are amazing photos and terrific maps including one that lights up the lighthouse that flash at the same pace as the real ones do – or so we are told. A fond farewell dinner tonight in a restaurant by the sea.

Day 7

After a final Irish breakfast, we will transport the group to Cork airport. From there it is also easy to get to the train station or other destinations. We hope that you enjoyed this taste of Irish river and coastal rowing!


Can I book a private tour?
What other trips will be run in 2023?

What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Coastal Coxed Quad
  • Coastal Rowing Shells
  • Cultural Program
  • Guide Services
  • Meals
  • Transportation


  • Rivers
  • Sampler style

Meet our guide

Hans-Jürgen Koch

Hans-Jürgen was a competitive rower in his early days in Germany and has re-discovered the more leisurely tour rowing a few years ago. Today based in Switzerland he is an active member of one of the rowing clubs around Lake Zürich. He spends the summer months ...

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