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Island News
Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre, where €5.1m will be invested in 2023 including the Dinish Wharf Works
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced the allocation of €37.3m for capital projects in 2023 in Ireland’s six state-owned Fishery Harbour Centres at Killybegs, Ros an Mhíl, An Daingean, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Howth…
Organisers of “TedFest” on Inis Mór in early March promise a “Priests Dance Off
The Aran islands’ “TedFest” has sold out several months before it kicks off on Inis Mór in early March. Organisers of the celebration of one of Ireland’s best-loved television shows advise people not to travel to Inis Mór unless they…
“The smaller inshore vessels that work from the hundreds of piers dotted along the rugged Irish coastline are the beating heart of rural coastal communities,” say the National Inshore Fishermen's Association
The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) has warmly welcomed its recognition as an EU seafood producer organisation (PO). The sanction by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue was hailed by NIFA chair Michael Desmond. Desmond said it came after a “long battle”…
The Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat 'Sam and Ada Moody'
Achill Island RNLI went to the assistance of a man on Clare Island off the coast of County Mayo, requiring medical evacuation on Monday, 23 January. The request from the Irish Coast Guard was the first call out for the…
The former Aran Islands ferry Naomh Eanna listing heavily on Saturday inher berth off Dublin's Grand Canal Basin
The long saga of the future of the former Galway to Aran Islands ferry ship Naomh Eanna entered a new chapter during the recent cold snap, when she began to take on a list through the ingress of water into…
The ferry company that operates the Rathlin Island-Ballycastle route has closed down today (11 January). Afloat tracked this afternoon the final (1600) sailing by the car-ferry Spirit of Rathlin having departing the Antrim mainland.
The ferry operator which serves Rathlin Island off the Antrim coast has ceased trading due to "financial difficulty". Rathlin Island Ferry Limited which operates between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle Harbour, in a Directors statement expressed "regret" as it announced that…
Aran archive - Justin Ó Gliasáin DCU with Bairbre Uí Chonaill and Áine Uí Fhlaithearta of the BBÁ
The island folklore of Oileáin Árann has been collated on a new website by residents of Inis Mór, working with a number of academic partners. Bailiúchán Béaloidis Árann, the Árainn Folklore Project, has been “more than twenty years a-growing”, according…
The north Connemara island harbour at Inishbofin
Inishbofin island’s water supply has been deemed safe to drink after months of restrictions. Irish Water has confirmed that the “do not consume” notice has been lifted “with immediate effect” on the north Connemara island after consultation with the Health…
The temporary crane installed for OPW works on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast
A recent Atlantic storm has washed away a large crane worth thousands of euros which had been hired for construction work on Skellig Michael. As The Sunday Independent reports, the temporary crane, shipped out several months ago to the UNESCO…
A view over Inis Mór, where the first marina on the Aran Islands is being planned at Kironan Harbour
Development of a marina on the Aran island of Inis Mór is one step closer with Brexit-related funding approved by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue. A sum of 475,000 euro has been granted for the provision of a floating pontoon…
Big country. The MOD 70 Phaedo 3 (Lloyd Thornburg) flys past Inishtearaght in the Blasket islands during her record-breaking round Ireland circuit in 2016
When you sail west past Mizen Head in the deep south, or Malin Head in the far north, you know you’re getting into the real Atlantic territory, where they do things differently afloat and ashore. For although the hundreds of…
Maria Simonds Gooding and Mícheál Ó Gaoithín outside her cottage in Ceathrú, Dún Chaoin
Award-winning Irish and international artist Maria Simonds-Gooding has a unique relationship with the Kerry coastline, where she lives, and she introduced the Blasket island of Inis Mhic Oileáin to its late owners, Charles J Haughey. Life on the Great Blasket,…
The Aran island research station  - plans are being made for a permanent station on Inis Meáín
Scientists from Ireland and Europe plan to establish a permanent research station on the Aran islands dedicated to ocean science forecasting and climate change. The Aran Islands International Research Station (AIRS) may be located on Inis Meáin where a solar-powered…
The proposed location of the Valentia Island Offshore Renewable Energy Array has been selected to have minimal impact on all key environmental, heritage, tourism, fishing and shipping contexts in the seas surrounding Valentia. The proposed site is more than 22 km off the West coast of Valentia in deep waters
A community-led renewable energy project on Kerry’s Valentia island which is seeking to build a floating offshore wind farm has applied for permission to conduct site investigations. The Valentia Island Energy Ltd Project states in its application that it recognises…
The skull collection labelled
Inishbofin residents have begun a petition seeking return of skulls taken by a British anthropologist from the island in 1890. Anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon enlisted Irish medical student Andrew Dixon to help him when he removed 13 skulls from the…
File image of Dooega Head on Achill Island
Two sailors are recovering after their yacht washed ashore on Achill Island and was beached for three days before the alarm was raised, as RTÉ News reports. The 50-foot boat is understood to have got into difficulty amid stormy conditions…

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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