IWDG weekend Whale Watching Courses, September 2023

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 2023.  By taking part you will also be actively supporting whale and dolphin conservation and research in Ireland.

One of the local headland watches at Cloghna Hd. May 2022

Our 2023 residential weekends are once again based at the fabulous 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.

IWDG Sightings Officer presenting at Summer 2022 course 

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 pelagic 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.

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 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 it’s unlikely you’ll need accommodation, which is not a problem, and in these cases a small fee for a light lunch and use of the facilities will apply (see below).

Myross Woods House, situated on 30 acres of parkland and just a short walk from Leap Village.

Course fee per person is as follows:

Course fee payable to IWDG via Eventbrite link

IWDG member (Incl. tuition, guided watches, facility fee & lunch)                   €95

Non-member (Incl. 1 yr m/ship, tuition, guided watches, facility fee & lunch ) €120


Accommodation & food payable to CECAS

Residential attendees (Eg: single room 2 nights, b/fast x2 & evening Meal x1 )  €107 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 the evening meal can pay on day                             €22

Sea swims at the Warren &/or Toe Hd beach (weather permitting)

Our boat will depart from Baltimore Hbr. just a 30 minute drive from CECAS.


Places are secured on receipt of course fee payable to IWDG (€95 or €120) via Eventbrite links below. 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.

Bookings link for Sept. 22-24th Course:



A sample of the species we observed and documented in Summer 2022.

Common dolphins

Fin whales on our Sept. 2022 course

Humpback #HBIRL67, Deep Hole Summer 2022


If staying on a residential basis at CECAS, we suggest once your place(s) are secured with IWDG, that you contact Ana in CECAS by email: info@cecas.ie to book your accommodation and food, which is available on a first come first served basis. Once you’ve booked your accommodation with CECAS they will send you a fund request for payment of their charges.

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

  • 14x Single rooms (max. 1 person)                      €70
  • 4x Double en suite rooms (2 ppl, double bed)    €130
  • 6x twin rooms (max 2 ppl, 2x single beds)         €96
  • 1x family en suite room (3 ppl)                           €150
  • 1x family en suite room (4 ppl)                           €170

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

  • Breakfast x2 @ €7.50 (Sat. & Sun.)                  €15
  • Light lunch x1 (soup & sandwiches) Sat.          €10
  • Evening meal x1(Sat) €22                                 €22

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


IWDG Course @ CECAS May 2022, © Denis O’ Regan


We look forward to meeting you in West Cork In September 2023