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 West Cork > Features > Dursey Cable Car

Dursey Cable Car

Dursey Island is five square miles of beautiful rocky land that has been amputated from the end of the Beara Peninsula by the erosive power of the Alantic Ocean. At its nearest point, it is about two hundred yards from the peninusla but the intervening channel is a really treacherous length of water. Since 1969 Irelands only cable-car links Dursey Island and its inhabitants with the mainland. It is licensed to carry three people and a cow (simultaneously?). When it was being installed some of the elderly locals were rather sceptical of the project. One wizened old sceptic dismissed the finished product as "a tin-can hanging from telephone wires" and declared that he would prefer to die in his bed.

 


When it was inaugurated in 1969 by the then Taoiseach (Prime Miniser) Jack Lynch, many of the locals admired his courage when, with a couple of other dignitaries, he boarded the cable-car for its inaugural flight. To everybodys relief (and surprise?) it did not spill them in the ocean. Incidentally, a few years later Lynch's successor as Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey atoned for this omission by accidentally sailing his own private yacht onto the rocks not far from here, and had to be rescued by the local life-boat.
The cable-car is an efficient but not luxurious means of transport. Locals who regularly use it say it is like "travelling in a big biscuit-tin" or "crossing in a cupboard". To the tourist, it offers a unique and fascinating travel experience and the island, which is about four miles long and one and a half miles wide is well worth a visit. The well marked Beara Way walking trail extends onto the island and makes the exploraton more enjoyable.
Near the spot where the cable-car passengers disembark is a place known as "Pairc an Air" - the Massacre Field. It is said to be the place where a large number of the
O'Sullivan Clan and their followers were killed in an ethnic cleansing operation by Crown Forces under the command of Sir Peter Carew. On the island are the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey and in the nearby graveyard is the family vault of O'Sullivan Beara.
From the furthest tip of the island, Dursey Head, there is a magnificent view. Off the headland, there are three little islands: The Bull, The Cow, and The Calf. The Bull has the largest gamet colony in Ireland and both it and The Cow have been designated as areas of wild-life protection.
 

 

 
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