Where to Find the Geographical Extremes of Ireland

Don't fall off the edge of the world when looking for the geographical extremes of Ireland

Bernd Biege

Ireland and its extremes, according to the compass points. Extreme travels do not have to involve parachute jumps and gator wrestling. Sometimes it is enough to search out the most extreme geographical locations a country can offer. Indeed it has become more and more popular trying to reach specific geographical points while traveling. Climbing the highest peaks is a well-known example. If you ask mountaineers why they usually answer "because they are there."

So, get in on the extreme travel act, and log some Irish extremes while doing so. None of these are really for daredevils only, but a few of these demand a fair grade of fitness. For anyone interested in doing this, here are Ireland's geographical extremes.

Ireland's Extreme Points on the Mainland

  • Ireland's northernmost point is Banba's Crown, located near Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula (County Donegal). Note that this is further north than the whole of Northern Ireland.
  • Ireland's easternmost point is Burr Point on the Ards Peninsula (County Down). The easternmost point of the Republic (Ards is in Northern Ireland) is Wicklow Head (County Wicklow).
  • Ireland's southernmost point is Brow Head in Mallavoge near Crookhaven (County Cork).
  • Ireland's westernmost point is Dunmore Head, near Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula (County Kerry).

Mizen Head (County Cork) has tried to attract visitors by referring to the lighthouse as being at the "most south-western point in Ireland"—a somehow arbitrary designation. But, it is well worth the effort to travel there, the landscape is simply stunning, and a breathtaking bridge takes you to the lighthouse over a deep chasm.

Ireland's Extreme Points (Islands Included)

  • Ireland's northernmost point, considering the whole territory claimed, would be Inishtrahull Island (County Donegal).
  • Ireland's easternmost point, considering the whole territory claimed, would be Canon Rock off the Ards Peninsula (County Down). The easternmost point of the Republic is Lambay Island (County Dublin).
  • Ireland's southernmost point, considering the whole territory claimed, would be Fastnet Rock (County Cork).
  • Ireland's westernmost point, considering the whole territory claimed, would be Tearaght Island (County Kerry).

Ireland's 10 Highest Mountains

  • Carrauntoohil—1,038 meters/3,405 feet
  • Beenkeragh—1,010 meters/3,313 feet
  • Caher—1,001 meters/3,284 feet
  • Cnoc na Péiste—988 meters/3,241 feet
  • Caher West Top—975 meters/3,198 feet
  • Maolán Bui—973 meters/3,192 feet
  • The Bones—959 meters/3,146 feet
  • Cnoc an Chullinn—958 meters/3,143 feet
  • Mount Brandon—951 meters/3,120 feet
  • An Gunna Mór (the Big Gun)—939 meters/3,080 feet

Note that nine of these mountains are part of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks in County Kerry, Mount Brandon (on the Dingle Peninsula, also in County Kerry) being the only exception.

The highest mountain outside Kerry would be Lugnaquilla at 925 meters/3,034 feet, located in the Wicklow Mountains. The highest mountain in Northern Ireland is Slieve Donard at 852 meters/2,795 feet, located in the Mourne Mountains in County Down.

Ireland's Lowest Landmass

Unlike many other countries, Ireland has no actual landmass below sea level. The lowest points are, therefore, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, basically the whole coastline of Ireland, with the exception of the cliffs. Wexford folk may dispute this, pointing out that North Slob is actually 3 meters/9 feet below sea level, but then North Slob is reclaimed land, won by building a sea wall.

A Note Regarding Rockall

In theory, the tiny "island" of Rockall would be both the northernmost and westernmost point of Ireland—but as Rockall is nothing more than a bleak rock in the middle of nowhere, it should be disregarded. Contrary to "common knowledge," Rockall has also never actually been claimed as territory by the Republic of Ireland, while the United Kingdom did so in 1955. The Irish government rejected the UK claim without putting forward its own.

Since 2014, mutually agreed upon charts showing the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom have basically ignored Rockall, leaving it well outside the Irish EEZ.

For nationalists, Rockall has long been a bone of contention—the seminal Republican music group, "The Wolfe Tones," made it part of their repertoire, with the ditty "Rock On, Rockall." Public interest in the issue has long been on the wane. Rockall does not seem to be an issue anymore.

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