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Island News
Air Ambulance Service - There is one charity HEMS service in the Republic of Ireland – the Irish Community Air Ambulance based in Rathcoole Aerodrome in Co Cork
The European Commission says it has approved a €5 million Irish scheme to support "charity operators" of helicopter emergency medical services in Ireland affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The aid will not exceed €2.3 million per beneficiary; and will be…
File image of Aran Islands RNLI's all-weather lifeboat
The volunteer crew of Aran Islands RNLI on Inis Mór were requested on Tuesday evening (3 May) to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to go to the aid of a patient on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin. Under…
Located on Ireland’s rugged Wild Atlantic Way, Achill Island’s Trent class all-weather lifeboat is ready to help the offshore island communities
Achill Island RNLI responded to a request for assistance with the medical evacuation of a patient on Inisturk, a small island off the coast of County Galway, on Bank Holiday Monday. The volunteer lifeboat crew launched shortly before 5 pm yesterday…
Chris Power Smith's potent J/122 Aurelia (meaning The Golden One) from the Royal St. George Yacht Club is the only Dublin entry so far for May's inaugural Inishtearaght Race from Kinsale
A competitive eight boat fleet is building in Kinsale for the inaugural Matthews Inishtearaght Race taking place in less than a month's time.  The race, promoted as an 'ideal shakedown race' for boats entering June's Round Ireland Race, has attracted top…
The Aran Islands Express Ferry Fleet
Doolin Ferry Company has set sail for the summer season, with their state-of-the-art ferries operating once again from Doolin Pier to the Aran Islands. Passengers can also opt to board a Cliffs of Moher cruise, or the Seafari experience, which…
File image of Aran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat
Aran Islands RNLI had a busy Wednesday (20 April) with near back-to-back callouts for medical evaluations. The first came just after 10am when the Irish Coast Guard asked the volunteer crew to launch for a local man on the island…
A currach with the Mayo islands of Inishturk and Achill in the background. Irish island tourism is to be monitored with an EU-approved system
A European system of measuring the impact of tourism on communities is to be introduced on a number of islands off the west Irish coast this summer. Three Aran islands and Inishbofin off Galway, along with Donegal’s Tory and Arranmore,…
Rhoda Twombly, Secretary of Comhdháil Oileán na hÉireann, the Islands’ Federation
No other community has experienced such a dramatic population decline as the offshore islands, according to the Islands’ Federation In 1841, the population on the islands was 34,219. By 2016 that number had reduced to 2,627. “These figures have not…
Dursey Island cable car
Farming representatives have shared their dismay at the failure to provide a ferry service to replace the suspended cable car to Dursey Island. As previously reported on Afloat.ie, funding for a temporary ferry service was agreed by the Department of…
Officially launched by Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons and Councillor Richard Holmes, The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens for 2021/2022, also pictured are guests, and Charles Stewart and Dawn Hynes from Kintra Boat Tours in foreground.
Marking what it described as a “new dawn”, an Antrim company has launched the province’s largest sightseeing passenger ferry. The new vessel Kintra II marks a £1 million investment by Kintra Boat Tours, and the creation of eight jobs. The…
Dursey Island and its cable car operation
The Cork County Mayor says the Department of Rural & Community Development has agreed to provide funding for the introduction of a temporary ferry service to Dursey Island to replace the cable car operation which will cease tomorrow for repair…
Valentia Island Heritage Centre in County Kerry
Valentia Island Heritage Centre in County Kerry intends to open for this year’s season during Easter. A ‘Heritage Week’ is being planned for this year and will feature stories from the lifetimes of island residents. The Centre has received donations…
Major repair work is needed on the country’s only cable car, at an estimated cost of €240,000
Dursey Island cable car service in West Cork is to close this Friday. Cork County Council wants the Government to provide funding for a replacement ferry to the island. Major repair work is needed on the country’s only cable car,…
Corncrake
Coastal and island locations in and off Donegal, Mayo and Galway will be involved in the Government’s new €5.9m EU-funded LIFE project aimed at saving the corncrake. The project, which is overseen by the Department of Housing, Local Government and…

Achill Island RNLI
Achill Island RNLI medically evacuated a man from Clare Island on Friday afternoon (28 January), in what was their first call out of 2022. The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat, Sam and Ada Moody, at 3.26 pm on Friday…
An Cósta Thiar - a new TG4 Maritime TV series
The "culture, challenges and benefits" of living on the Atlantic seaboard are explored in a new TG4 Maritime TV series broadcast from this week. Áine Ní Bhreisleáin, presenter of Bladhaire on Raidió na Gaeltachta and co-presenter of Beo ar Éigean…

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.

©Afloat 2020

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