Ballycastle and Rathlin Island are frequent destinations for us. From the Mull of Kintyre, the closest landfall is Rathlin although crossing the North Channel, where tides run up to eight knots, requires care.
Ballycastle is a lively small town with good facilities and the opportunity to take a bus to visit the Giant’s Causeway and the Bushmills distillery.
On the Irish south-west coast we have used Kinsale, near Cork, and Cahersiveen, near Dingle, as crew change locations. The passage south through the Irish Sea from Troon to Kinsale involved stops at Bangor (including a visit into Belfast), Ardglass, Howth, Arklow and Kilmore Quay whereas on the 450nm return passage north to Mingulay we stopped only at Youghal and Bangor.
Kinsale is a busy tourist town with excellent facilities. By contrast, Cahersiveen is much more low-key and relaxed, but any lack of facilities is compensated by super-helpful people.
The south coast of Ireland has many lovely towns and anchorages such as Glandaur, Bere Island, Ballinskellig and Baltimore. Scenery highlights include the Fastnet Rock (around which we just had to sail), Skellig Michael where there are monks’ cells atop a jagged island (as featured in the Star Wars films), the now-uninhabited Blasket Islands and the sail upriver to the very centre of Cork.
Overall, the area has great sailing, friendly towns and villages and plenty of sheltered anchorages.