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Island News
Naval Service vessel LÉ Róisín at Rockall conducting routine maritime security patrols in October 2012
The Scottish government was keen to do a deal on Rockall if it voted for independence and rejoined the EU, according to confidential documents. As The Guardian reports, confidential letters and other heavily redacted documents about the crisis several years…
Representatives of the ‘Healthy Islands’ project team receiving their award at the National Age Friendly Awards 2023 in Clayton Whites Hotel, Co. Wexford; left to right – Helen McGrath, Galway County Council; Alan Farrell, Director of Services, Galway County Council; Dr. Anne Cassidy, Senior Manager, Galway Rural Development’s SICAP team; Councillor Liam Carroll, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council; Mary Cronin of Galway County Older People's Council; and Andrew McBride, Healthy County Galway Coordinator
A community-based initiative hosted on County Galway’s offshore communities has been named winner at the National Age Friendly Awards 2023 held last evening (Thursday) in Clayton Whites Hotel, Co. Wexford. The ‘Healthy Islands’ project picked up the Age Friendly Active…
Achill Island Sea Salt
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today announced that the application for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for “Achill Island Sea Salt” has been successful. The European Commission Regulation advising of the registration of…
Artist Maria Simonds Gooding with An File - Blasket islander Micheál O Gaoithín
Imagine being on your own on a Blasket island, dependent on several divers to come and collect you – and then their dinghy runs out of fuel. If a fishing vessel hadn’t spotted the reflection of a mirror they had…
Houses on Gola Island off the Donegal coast. A report published today by Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, the Irish Islands Federation says there is a critical lack of housing on Irish islands
Continuing sustainable communities on Irish islands are at risk due to a critical lack of housing, according to a report published today by Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, the Irish Islands Federation. The report calls on the Government to establish an…
A view over County Mayo's Killala Bay, where Ireland’s first underwater artificial reef is proposed
Scoping the creation of Ireland’s first underwater artificial reef in Mayo’s Killala Bay has received a grant of 50,000 euro as one of a number of outdoor projects approved for funding by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys.…
File image of Deenish Island (left) and Scariff Island as seen from the Co Kerry mainland
The Irish arm of the world’s largest farmed salmon producer has applied for an Aquaculture/Foreshore Licence for a proposed facility at Deenish Island in Co Kerry. Silver King Seafoods Ltd, which is wholly owned by Mowi Ireland, is seeking to…
National Broadband Plan surveying work is underway on a number of Irish islands extending from Donegal to west Cork
Irish offshore islands are used to having to wait, whether it is for safe piers or electricity decades ago. However, they are being prioritised for pure fibre links under the national broadband plan. Three West Cork islands are due to…
A rainbow after one of several recent heavy showers on Inis Óirr
Shipments of water to the Aran island of Inis Oírr and overnight restrictions on the public supply have been lifted by Uisce Éireann. The agency says that water reserves on the southernmost Aran island have recovered and are “currently sufficient…
A file photo of Baltimore RNLI lifeboat
A resident of Cape Clear Island off the coast of West Cork was evacuated for medical assistance following an accident on Sunday. Baltimore RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crew received a call at 12.39 pm and launched their all-weather lifeboat to provide…
Inis Oírr has suffered from water shortages
Islanders on Inis Oírr are being shipped water several times a day, even during this period of heavy rainfall across Ireland. As The Sunday Independent reports, Uisce Éireann has not yet resolved the island’s water shortage issues. The island co-op…
File image of Baltimore RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat The Alan Massey
Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide a medical evacuation on Friday morning (28 October) from Cape Clear Island off the coast of West Cork. The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat The Alan Massey at 10.44am following a…
Clare Island pictured from Clew Bay. Offshore islands, including Clare Island, have experienced boil water notices due to contamination
The health of about 5,500 people was put at risk by e.coli in private drinking water schemes in Ireland last year due to failure of disinfection systems, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says. Meeting E.coli standards is a basic requirement…
Ireland’s Offshore Islands: Housing Needs Survey” just published makes five key recommendations
University College Cork researchers have completed a survey of the offshore islands, which concludes that long-term secure, affordable, available housing is essential to maintain and build resilient, vibrant, and sustainable communities. The researchers, Dr Conor Cashman and Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan,…
Homes on Gola Island in County Donegal. Housing has become a number one issue on the European Small Islands Agenda, a conference was told
Housing and the impact of holiday homes on islands was a theme of this year’s European Small Islands Federation annual general meeting held on West Cork’s Bere Island. Energy self-reliance and greener ferries were high on the agenda, according to…
The Severn class RNLI lifeboat Myrtle Maud passes Arranmore Head
On Saturday evening, the Arranmore RNLI crew successfully rescued three people and their dog who were stranded on Maghera Beach due to the rising tide.  The stranded walkers, two men, a woman, and their dog, were cut off by the…

Ireland's offshore islands

Around 30 of Ireland's offshore islands are inhabited and hold a wealth of cultural heritage.

A central Government objective is to ensure that sustainable vibrant communities continue to live on the islands.

Irish offshore islands FAQs

Technically, it is Ireland itself, as the third largest island in Europe.

Ireland is surrounded by approximately 80 islands of significant size, of which only about 20 are inhabited.

Achill island is the largest of the Irish isles with a coastline of almost 80 miles and has a population of 2,569.

The smallest inhabited offshore island is Inishfree, off Donegal.

The total voting population in the Republic's inhabited islands is just over 2,600 people, according to the Department of Housing.

Starting with west Cork, and giving voting register numbers as of 2020, here you go - Bere island (177), Cape Clear island (131),Dursey island (6), Hare island (29), Whiddy island (26), Long island, Schull (16), Sherkin island (95). The Galway islands are Inis Mór (675), Inis Meáin (148), Inis Oírr (210), Inishbofin (183). The Donegal islands are Arranmore (513), Gola (30), Inishboffin (63), Inishfree (4), Tory (140). The Mayo islands, apart from Achill which is connected by a bridge, are Clare island (116), Inishbiggle (25) and Inishturk (52).

No, the Gaeltacht islands are the Donegal islands, three of the four Galway islands (Inishbofin, like Clifden, is English-speaking primarily), and Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire in west Cork.

Lack of a pier was one of the main factors in the evacuation of a number of islands, the best known being the Blasket islands off Kerry, which were evacuated in November 1953. There are now three cottages available to rent on the Great Blasket island.

In the early 20th century, scholars visited the Great Blasket to learn Irish and to collect folklore and they encouraged the islanders to record their life stories in their native tongue. The three best known island books are An tOileánach (The Islandman) by Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig by Peig Sayers, and Fiche Blian ag Fás (Twenty Years A-Growing) by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Former taoiseach Charles J Haughey also kept a residence on his island, Inishvickillaune, which is one of the smaller and less accessible Blasket islands.

Charles J Haughey, as above, or late Beatle musician, John Lennon. Lennon bought Dorinish island in Clew Bay, south Mayo, in 1967 for a reported £1,700 sterling. Vendor was Westport Harbour Board which had used it for marine pilots. Lennon reportedly planned to spend his retirement there, and The Guardian newspaper quoted local estate agent Andrew Crowley as saying he was "besotted with the place by all accounts". He did lodge a planning application for a house, but never built on the 19 acres. He offered it to Sid Rawle, founder of the Digger Action Movement and known as the "King of the Hippies". Rawle and 30 others lived there until 1972 when their tents were burned by an oil lamp. Lennon and Yoko Ono visited it once more before his death in 1980. Ono sold the island for £30,000 in 1984, and it is widely reported that she donated the proceeds of the sale to an Irish orphanage


Yes, Rathlin island, off Co Antrim's Causeway Coast, is Ireland's most northerly inhabited island. As a special area of conservation, it is home to tens of thousands of sea birds, including puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. It is known for its Rathlin golden hare. It is almost famous for the fact that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, retreated after being defeated by the English at Perth and hid in a sea cave where he was so inspired by a spider's tenacity that he returned to defeat his enemy.

No. The Aran islands have a regular ferry and plane service, with ferries from Ros-a-Mhíl, south Connemara all year round and from Doolin, Co Clare in the tourist season. The plane service flies from Indreabhán to all three islands. Inishbofin is connected by ferry from Cleggan, Co Galway, while Clare island and Inishturk are connected from Roonagh pier, outside Louisburgh. The Donegal islands of Arranmore and Tory island also have ferry services, as has Bere island, Cape Clear and Sherkin off Cork. How are the island transport services financed? The Government subsidises transport services to and from the islands. The Irish Coast Guard carries out medical evacuations, as to the RNLI lifeboats. Former Fianna Fáíl minister Éamon Ó Cuív is widely credited with improving transport services to and from offshore islands, earning his department the nickname "Craggy island".

Craggy Island is an bleak, isolated community located of the west coast, inhabited by Irish, a Chinese community and one Maori. Three priests and housekeeper Mrs Doyle live in a parochial house There is a pub, a very small golf course, a McDonald's fast food restaurant and a Chinatown... Actually, that is all fiction. Craggy island is a figment of the imagination of the Father Ted series writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, for the highly successful Channel 4 television series, and the Georgian style parochial house on the "island" is actually Glenquin House in Co Clare.

Yes, that is of the Plassey, a freighter which was washed up on Inis Oírr in bad weather in 1960.

There are some small privately owned islands,and islands like Inishlyre in Co Mayo with only a small number of residents providing their own transport. Several Connemara islands such as Turbot and Inishturk South have a growing summer population, with some residents extending their stay during Covid-19. Turbot island off Eyrephort is one such example – the island, which was first spotted by Alcock and Brown as they approached Ireland during their epic transatlantic flight in 1919, was evacuated in 1978, four years after three of its fishermen drowned on the way home from watching an All Ireland final in Clifden. However, it is slowly being repopulated

Responsibility for the islands was taking over by the Department of Rural and Community Development . It was previously with the Gaeltacht section in the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

It is a periodic bone of contention, as Ireland does not have the same approach to its islands as Norway, which believes in right of access. However, many improvements were made during Fianna Fáíl Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív's time as minister. The Irish Island Federation, Comdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, represents island issues at national and international level.

The 12 offshore islands with registered voters have long argued that having to cast their vote early puts them at a disadvantage – especially as improved transport links mean that ballot boxes can be transported to the mainland in most weather conditions, bar the winter months. Legislation allowing them to vote on the same day as the rest of the State wasn't passed in time for the February 2020 general election.

Yes, but check tide tables ! Omey island off north Connemara is accessible at low tide and also runs a summer race meeting on the strand. In Sligo, 14 pillars mark the way to Coney island – one of several islands bearing this name off the Irish coast.

Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire is the country's most southerly inhabited island, eight miles off the west Cork coast, and within sight of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, also known as the "teardrop of Ireland".
Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast, which has a monastic site dating from the 6th century. It is accessible by boat – prebooking essential – from Portmagee, Co Kerry. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was not open to visitors in 2020.
All islands have bird life, but puffins and gannets and kittiwakes are synonymous with Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Rathlin island off Antrim and Cape Clear off west Cork have bird observatories. The Saltee islands off the Wexford coast are privately owned by the O'Neill family, but day visitors are permitted access to the Great Saltee during certain hours. The Saltees have gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters.
Vikings used Dublin as a European slaving capital, and one of their bases was on Dalkey island, which can be viewed from Killiney's Vico road. Boat trips available from Coliemore harbour in Dalkey. Birdwatch Ireland has set up nestboxes here for roseate terns. Keep an eye out also for feral goats.
Plenty! There are regular boat trips in summer to Inchagoill island on Lough Corrib, while the best known Irish inshore island might be the lake isle of Innisfree on Sligo's Lough Gill, immortalised by WB Yeats in his poem of the same name. Roscommon's Lough Key has several islands, the most prominent being the privately-owned Castle Island. Trinity island is more accessible to the public - it was once occupied by Cistercian monks from Boyle Abbey.

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