IWDG Announce 2024 Residential Weekend Whale Watching/Identification Courses

Venue: CECAS, Centre of Excellence for Climate Action & Sustainability

Where: Myross Wood House, Leap, Co. Cork, P81 Y192

Dates: May 24-26th or September 20-22nd, 2024


This May sees IWDG return to the fabulous CECAS Ctr. in Leap, West Cork for a 3rd Summer Series of weekend courses.


Group shot, Sept 2022 outside CECAS. Image © Denis O’ Regan

Looking for a weekend with a difference? Why not join the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) www.iwdg.ie, Ireland’s leading marine conservation NGO, on a weekend whale-watching course in West Cork during summer 2024.  By taking part you will also be actively supporting whale and dolphin conservation and research in Ireland.

Our 2024 residential weekends are once again based at the CECAS centre, Leap, West Cork www.cecas.ie, and combine a relaxed learning experience at this former religious retreat, providing a unique opportunity to learn more about the 25 species of cetaceans that can be found in Irish waters. Your course facilitator and guide will be IWDG Sighting Officer, Pádraig Whooley, who has delivered similar weekend courses since 2002. Suitable from ages of 18 years upwards, our courses cater for all levels of interest, from the complete novice to the wildlife enthusiast who’d like to learn more about Ireland’s whales and dolphins, how to find and identify them, IWDG’s recording schemes and how you, as Citizen Scientists, can contribute to their conservation, as well as the latest research.

Participants will attend a series of indoor presentations and guided land-based watches, during which you will learn the field-skills required to observe, identify and record these magnificent marine mammals.  Incorporated into the weekend will be a 4-5hr boat trip with our partners at Cape Clear Ferries, departing from Baltimore, when we’ll survey for large whales in the productive offshore area known as the “Deep Hole” to the south east of Cape Clear Island. Boat trip is subject to weather and can be paid for on the day.

The venue

These weekends are essentially residential and based at the CECAS Centre near Leap village, west Cork.  We envisage most participants booking this accommodation, which comprises a range of affordable and comfortable room options, some of which are En Suite. Set among 30 acres of woodland overlooking Glandore Harbour in the heart of West Cork, this historic former retreat is a peaceful, unique and magical place for tranquility, nature and relaxation, and is also convenient for the towns of Clonakilty, Rosscarbery Leap, Glandore, Union Hall and Skibbereen. A great base for exploring this wonderful area on land or by sea.  Of course, if you live locally or are on holidays in the area, then you won’t need accommodation, which is not a problem. The course fee payable to IWDG includes lunch on Saturday and use of the facilities at CECAS.


Our venue in the heart of coastal West Cork




Course fee per person is as follows:


Course fee payable to IWDG via Eventbrite

IWDG Member (Incl. tuition, guided watches, materials & lunch Sat. €14)    €100

Non-member (as above PLUS 1 year m/ship IWDG)                                       €130


Residential (Accommodation & food) payable to CECAS

Eg: Single room 2 nights, b/fast x2 & evening meal Sat. x1)                        €127.50 pp

See full list of room type prices below


Optional Whale Watch trip, pay boat operator on day (Weather Permitting)      €45

Non Residents who opt for evening meal Sat. can settle with IWDG on day       €24.50


Places are secured on receipt of course fee payable to IWDG as above (€100 or €130) via Eventbrite link. Full refunds will be given in the event of IWDG cancelling your course or if for health reasons you have to cancel giving us 48 hrs notice.


If staying residentially at CECAS, once your place(s) are secured with IWDG, you should contact Siobhan Cadogan in CECAS, email cadogan335@gmail.com   or  Mob. 086 8701774 to book your accommodation (and meals).  Remember, rooms are limited and available on a first come first served basis. CECAS will send you a fund request a few weeks before the course date for payment of their charges, which are outlined below.


Room options and prices per room, based on a 2 night stay are:

  • 14x Single rooms (max. 1 person)                        €84
  • 6x Twin rooms (max 2 ppl, 2x single beds)         €100
  • 4x Double en suite rooms (2 ppl, double bed)     €144
  • 1x Family en suite room (3 ppl)                           €166
  • 1x Family en suite room (4 ppl)                           €188


Food prices per person for weekend (vegetarian options provided on all meals)

  • Breakfast x2 @ €7.50 (Sat. & Sun.)                  €19
  • Evening meal x1 (Saturday only)                      €24.50


Bookings link for May 24-26th Course:https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/residential-weekend-whale-watching-identification-course-in-west-cork-tickets-819241522447

Bookings link for Sept. 20-22nd Course: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/residential-weekend-whale-watching-identification-course-in-west-cork-tickets-819958697537

Cloghna Head, one of the vantage points we regularly watch from over these weekends. It’s only a 15-20 minute drive from CECAS.

Our pelagic whale watch trip will depart from Baltimore with Cape Clear ferries, our chosen partners for these courses.

Humpback whales, the species everyone most want want to see during our weekend courses.

Common dolphins are seen on pretty much every weekend course, as they are the most abundant cetacean species. Image © Denis O’ Regan

Enquiries or further details, email padraig.whooley@iwdg.ie , Ph. 00 353 (0)86-3850568