Cape Clear Island Museum

Cape Clear, Co. Cork, Ireland

About Us

Cumann Iarsmalann Chleire / Cape Clear Museum Society was set up in 1981 as a voluntary organisation to:

  1. Source, collect and preserve records concerning all aspects of Cape Clear island life.
  2. Organise the collection of artefacts of folk, farm and maritime life and see to their exhibition and preservation.
  3. Develop an Exhibition Centre and Heritage Archive to house both artefacts and documentation of island interest.

What we do

With the help of the island community, and Irish State Agencies the Museum Society has restored and equipped an old schoolhouse, which now holds a large collection of exhibition material and documentation relating to island life and history.
There are to date, over 100 framed exhibition panels in the museum collection which deal with fourteen different themes of island heritage. Each theme may have around six to fourteen exhibition panels, however, only a few of these may be exhibited at any one time. Interpretative exhibition panels cover island settlement patterns, folk and farm life, genealogy, folklore, placenames, education, telegraph and maritime history. Archaeological, geological, botanical, ornithological and genealogical surveys of the island have been undertaken and data relating to these aspects is either on exhibition or housed in the Island Archive.

Among international events organised by the Museum have been:
The Naomh CiarĂ¡n-St Piran Millennium Jubilee Pilgrimage from Cornwall to Cape Clear and Seir Kieran, Co. Offaly (2000); Click for details. The Famine of 1847 & 1863; Click. The 25th Anniversary of the 1979 Fastnet Race Remembrance Ceremony (2004); The 25th Anniversary of the O Driscoll Clan Gathering-Heritage Exhibition (2011); Click.

Anniversary Exhibitions include: The 100th Anniversary of the Baltimore Fishery (1987); 75th Anniversary of the loss of the Thomas Joseph (1993); Cape Clear & World War 11 (1995); The 100th Anniversary of the 1894 Loss of the Florence (1994); The 100th Anniversary of Cape Clear Primary School at South Harbour; The 150th Anniversary of the building of the First Lighthouse at Fastnet Rock (2004). Click.

Details of Ferry Services and Opening Hours

There is a ferry that goes to Cape Clear island from Baltimore or Schull and the journey takes 40 minutes. Click the links to see the timetables and information. Click here

Visiting Cape Clear Museum

The Cape Clear Island Museum is open daily from June to early September. Between September and May 31st, visits to the Museum can only be made by making prior arrangements. For details contact: Oifig Eolais / Cape Clear Island Information Bureau. Email:, Tel: 353 (0)2839119
Arrangements for visiting the O Driscoll & Island Archives
Consultation of documentation in the Island Archive is confined to those who have either O Driscoll, Driskell, Driskill or Cape Clear island family and genealogical connections or who have a particular interest in some aspect of O Driscoll or Cape Clear island history, archaeology, language and heritage.Click here for more info

Some Exhibition Areas

The Fastnet Lighthouse and Fastnet Race Display at the island museum is a 20 minute audio-visual presentation with mounted exhibition panels recording other aspects of both the building of the lighthouses on Cape Clear and the Fastnet Rock. The accompanying exhibition on the biennial Flagship Fastnet Race event pays particular attention to the daring rescue operation conducted by the Rescue Service of the RNLI, Coastguard, RAF and Irish Naval service during the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race. It also has the dramatic rescue off Cape Clear and the Fastnet Rock of the crew of the USA owned Rambler 100 yacht during the 2011 Fastnet Race. .

Household Exhibition Area

The museum collection contains several hundred artefacts of household, folk and farm and island and West Cork Coast island maritime interest.

Folk & Farm Exhibition Area

Artefacts include: Quern Stone, Saddle Quern and Corran Cown

Maritime Exhibition Area

Photo of Ilen Crew and Saoirse. Bust of Father Davis who established the Fishery School and Boatbuilding School

Boatbuilding tools used in Cape Clear

Artefacts from the Minihaha