FOTA ISLAND - Cork Harbour Islands
Fota Island was the private home of the Smith-Barry family for nearly 800 years until the estate was sold to University College Cork (UCC) in 1975. Family members were descendants of Philip de Barry, who arrived in Ireland from Wales as part of the Norman invasion (1160s-1170s). De Barry took up residence in Cork after being granted lands across the county, including Fota Island.

The family initially settled in Barryscourt Castle near Carrigtwohill before moving to Castlelyons, where they also held extensive properties. Fota House was originally a two-storey hunting lodge, used as a base for fishing, shooting and yachting, but the family made it their primary residence during the 1820s after architect Sir Richard Morrison was commissioned to create the current mansion. The estate was sold to UCC following the death of Mrs Dorothy Elizabeth Bell, the last of the Smith-Barrys. Fota House is now managed by the Irish Heritage Trust, has been extensively resorted and is open for tours from April to September, the house has a magnificent collection of 18th and 19th Century Irish paintings and furniture.

Fota gardens and arboretum are under the joint care of the Trust and Office of Public Works (OPW) and are open all year round. The name Fota was derived from the Gaelic ‘Fod te’ meaning warm soil and it is because of the warm soil and sheltered conditions in Fota that the gardens include a collection of rare and exotic shrubs and trees.

Fota Wildlife Park covers 100 acres of the island and unlike an ordinary zoo is home to a wonderful array of free roaming animals and birds in addition highly endangered species such Rothschild Giraffe, European Bison and Scimitar Horned Oryx. The park also has a Tropical House with a variety of amphibian, butterfly, fish and reptile species and a new Asian Sanctuary features Sumatran Tigers and Indian Rhino. The park is open all year round.

The rest of the island is owned by Fota Island Resort which is made up of Fota Island Hotel and Luxury Spa, with contemporary style en-suite rooms and private penthouse suites, Fota Restaurant an all-day fine dining venue with an outdoor terrace that is a popular spot for lunch or Afternoon Tea on sunny days. The resort also features private holiday home lodges, ideal for self-catering breaks.

Fota Island Golf Club, part of the resort, was designed by Irish Ryder Cup star Christy O’Conor Jr. and twice English Amateur Champion Peter McEvoy. The golf club, with three championship-standard golf course configurations, hosted the Irish Open in 2001 and 2002, won by Colin Motgomerie and Soren Hansen, respectively. The Fota Island Resort hosted the Irish Open again in 2014 which was won by Mikko Ilonen.

Fota Wildlife Park covers 100 acres of the island and unlike an ordinary zoo is home to a wonderful array of free roaming animals and birds in addition highly endangered species such Rothschild Giraffe, European Bison and Scimitar Horned Oryx. The park also has a Tropical House with a variety of amphibian, butterfly, fish and reptile species and a new Asian Sanctuary features Sumatran Tigers, Asian Lions and Indian Rhino. The park is open all year around.