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Displaying items by tag: Inland Fisheries Ireland

#Angling - Four new Irish record fish were caught by anglers last year, according to the just published Irish Specimen Fish Committee (ISFC) report for 2018.

New records were set for four marine species: golden grey mullet, thin-lipped mullet, black bream and tope.

The two mullet species were taken in Cork, with Noel Lane from Cork taking the 2.95kg thin-lipped mullet from Cork Harbour on 15 July, and Stephen O’Neill hooking the golden grey mullet of 1.52kg on 15 August.

Elsewhere, the 34.02kg tope was caught off Greystones, Co Wicklow by Stephen Hanway from Dublin on 3 October, and Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford was the venue for the 1.45kg black sea bream caught by Welsh angler Gordon Thornes on 17 September.

The anglers will be presented with their awards and certificates at the ISFC Awards Day on Saturday 16 February in conjunction with the Ireland Angling Show at the National Show Centre in Swords.

Further details of these record fish are in the Irish Specimen Fish Committee Report 2018. The committee, which is supported by Inland Fisheries Ireland, is an independent all-Ireland voluntary body which verifies and records the capture of large fish caught on rod by anglers in freshwater and marine waters.

As well as the new record, detailed information on 393 specimen fish (large fish) taken by anglers from venues throughout Ireland in 2018, comprising many different species, is detailed in the report.

The main species were smaller shark species like smooth hound and spurdog, while in freshwater, carp and pike dominated. All fish were caught, weighed, measured and released.

Hard copies of the report are available from Inland Fisheries Ireland offices nationally.

Published in Angling

#Angling - A new project on the River Easkey in Co Sligo which has improved and developed angling access to the wild salmon river between Sligo and Ballina has now been completed.

The project, which was delivered by River Easkey Angling Association, received support from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) via the National Strategy for Angling Development.

Structures such as footbridges, stiles, and ladders were installed along the river, which is located on the Wild Atlantic Way, while walkway routes on the banks of the salmon and trout fishery were also improved.

The work took place upstream of the famous Workhouse Bridge as part of the second phase of this project which initially involved similar works downstream of the bridge last year.

In total, the project has delivered eight new access points to angling, 13 footbridges ranging from three to four metres in length, and five kilometres of improved trail access.

Sean Canney, Minister of State for responsibility for inland fisheries, said on Wednesday (23 January): “I welcome the continuing efforts of Inland Fisheries Ireland in delivering under the National Strategy for Angling Development in partnership and collaboration with local angling clubs and community groups nationwide.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland committed €23,500 in total to support the Easkey project with €10,000 awarded in 2017 and a further €13,500 granted in 2018.

“I also want to congratulate the River Easkey Angling Association on its excellent development ethos. They are a progressive group that helpfully operates an open policy for holders of a State Salmon License with season and day tickets available for access,” he added.

Suzanne Campion, head of business development at IFI, said: “The River Easkey Angling Association has done fantastic work in developing this area as an angling destination. While completing this project and working closely with our project officers, they have given due diligence to everything from financial and environmental governance to biosecurity considerations ensuring the conservation and protection of this wonderful resource.”

Alan Spencer, assistant secretary of the River Easkey Angling Association, expressed the club’s thanks to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s staff for all their help and support during the project, as well as gratitude to landowners who permitted the club and its contractor access to the river through their property.

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland has launched a recruitment campaign for seasonal fisheries officers nationwide.

The seasonal positions offer an opportunity to protect and develop Ireland’s rivers, lakes and waterways during the summer months. There are up to 40 positions on offer across six River Basin Districts.

Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for inland fisheries, said: “Fisheries officers play a vital role in protecting, conserving, managing and developing Ireland’s precious natural fisheries resource.

“They help enforce fisheries legislation which protects against illegal fishing activity and support the development of the resource through the maintenance of angling infrastructure.

“The recruitment of up to 40 seasonal officers will reinforce the critical work of Inland Fisheries Ireland during the high activity period of the year when there is increased demand for protection, conservation and support.”

Roisin Bradley, head of HR at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said the seasonal roles “offer an excellent opportunity to spend your summer outdoors helping to protect and enhance Ireland’s rivers, lakes and coastline.

“Our fisheries officers are custodians of this precious natural fisheries resource. We are looking for people across the country who enjoy working outdoors, who are passionate about protecting our fisheries resource and who have excellent interpersonal skills.”

The roles are available on a six-month basis with contracts commencing from late April and training provided to all new recruits. The locations for the new positions will be based across the country in the following districts:

  • Eastern River Basin District: five vacancies across Kilcoole, Co Wicklow; Dundalk, Co Louth; Drogheda, Co Louth; CityWest, Co Dublin.
  • South Eastern River Basin District: seven vacancies across Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary; Enniscorthy, Co Wexford; New Ross, Co Wexford.
  • South Western River Basin District: five vacancies across Farnanes, Co Cork; Kenmare, Co Kerry; Killorglin, Co Kerry; Bantry, Co Cork.
  • Shannon River Basin District: six vacancies across Listowel, Co Kerry; Limerick, Co Limerick; Birr, Co Offaly; Sheelin, Co Westmeath.
  • Western River Basin District: five vacancies across Galway City and Ballinakill, Co Galway; Ballina and Bangor Erris, Co Mayo; Sligo, Co Sligo.
  • North Western River Basin District: six vacancies across Cavan town, Co Cavan; Letterkenny, Glenties, Ballyshannon and Gweedore, Co Donegal.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 8 February 2019. To find out more about the roles and how to apply, visit fisheriesireland.ie/careers.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Angling - Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for inland fisheries, has welcomed the success of Newport Sea Angling Club in Co Mayo in securing fishing equipment for junior anglers in the community.

Along with many others around Ireland, including the Finglas Youth Resource Centre in north Dublin, the club received funding from Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Strategy for Angling Development to help support the recruitment of novices to the pursuit of angling.

Minister Canney said: “Newport Sea Angling Club has a strong junior membership hosting multiple events for young anglers every year. The club provides novice anglers with equipment, tackle, rods and life jackets during junior events.

“This helps in promoting angling to a new generation and also ensures that parents do not have to invest in any equipment until children have tried angling a number of times.

“I am happy to see Inland Fisheries Ireland stand behind the Newport club’s excellent initiative and I am confident their efforts will bring new participants into this healthy outdoor pastime.”

The club’s youth outreach initiatives attract many junior anglers with up to 60 juniors attending their National Junior Competition every year.

This new equipment will assist the club in training novice anglers in sea angling skills. In addition to fishing equipment, the club will also purchase a projector and screen for the club which will be used to assist them in theoretical training sessions.

Declan Moran of Newport Sea Angling Club said: “We hope that we can remove any pressure on parents or guardians to purchase angling equipment at the outset until their child has tried the pursuit and intends to continue with it. We believe this is one of the reasons why the club is so successful in introducing many young novice anglers to sea fishing each year.

“At Newport Sea Angling Club, we are committed to helping the next generation of anglers by passing on the necessary angling skills and introducing them to the pursuit in a safe and friendly environment.”

Suzanne Campion, head of business development at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “Newport Sea Angling Club has a long history of supporting junior anglers with a number of popular junior events held in Newport every year. We are delighted to support the club through the National Strategy for Angling Development fund to enable the purchase of more fishing equipment.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them on their work to date in recruiting new junior members and we look forward to seeing even more growth in sea angling in Newport and the surrounds in years to come! By increasing participating in angling among the next generation, we are securing the future of our precious and valuable natural resource.”

Published in Angling

#Angling - Finglas Youth Resource Centre (FYRC) has been awarded €4,800 to purchase new equipment for angling.

The centre, which works with young people from ages 10 to 24 in the Finglas area, delivers a fishing programme which Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has proved to be extremely popular with local participants.

Funding has now been granted to the centre by IFI to support it in engaging young people around the pursuit.

FYRC first introduced a fishing programme to the community in the summer of 2016. The high level of demand resulted in a need for more resources and equipment to ensure its delivery.

This new equipment will allow the programme to expand its reach into the greater Finglas area and provide better angling opportunities for participants.

IFI granted the funding through its National Strategy for Angling Development which aims to ensure that Ireland’s fish stocks and angling infrastructure are protected and enhanced with a view to ensuring a sustainable habitat and the delivery of the economic, health and recreational benefits which they offer to communities across Ireland.

It’s hoped to grow the angling sector’s socio-economic contribution of €836 million per year by an additional €60 million annually through the strategy.

This would be achieved by driving angling participation among domestic and overseas visitors, which in turn is supported by improving access to fishing and developing angling infrastructure.

“It is fantastic that there is such a demand from young people in Finglas to access angling and to enjoy it as a pursuit on an ongoing basis,” said IFI’s Suzanne Campion.

“Finglas Youth Resource Centre provides valuable support and guidance to young people and we are delighted to support and work alongside them in promoting angling in the area.

“Angling is a pursuit that can be enjoyed at any age or ability, in a group or in solitude and it offers many health and wellbeing benefits.

“We hope that the young people who pass through the doors of Finglas Youth Resource Centre in the coming years will reap the many recreational rewards which our fisheries resource has to offer.”

Published in Angling

#Angling - Only hours after 84 Irish rivers were opened to salmon angling on Tuesday 1 January, the first salmon of 2019 was caught and released on the Lackagh River in Co Donegal.

Michael McCann of Templeard, Derry landed the 5lb fish in the Garden Pool on the Lackagh River at 9.25am yesterday using a single barbless hook, before it was released back into the water.

The fish was also the first salmon caught and released during International Year of the Salmon which takes place throughout 2019.

McCann was one of 22 anglers who were fishing on the Lackagh at the time of the catch. The river is not known for producing the first salmon of the angling season — in 2018, the first was recorded on the River Drowes in Leitrim on 30 January while in 2017 it was caught on the Munster Blackwater in Cork on 1 February.

Congratulating McCann on his catch, Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “We are particularly delighted that the first salmon of 2019 was caught and released in a sustainable manner in Donegal in compliance with the 2019 regulations.

“I would urge anglers to step up their conservation efforts and engage in catch and release angling in 2019. The new year coincides with International Year of the Salmon which aims to raise awareness of some of the challenges facing salmon stocks across the Northern hemisphere.

“Salmon populations have plummeted in recent years with the number of salmon returning to Irish shores decreasing by over 70%, which is very concerning.

“We look forward to promoting this global initiative in Ireland which aims to bring people together to share knowledge, raise awareness and take action on how we can ensure the resilience of salmon in Ireland and across the Northern hemisphere.”

The Lackagh River is open to catch and release fishing during the 2019 season. The regulations for the management of the wild salmon and sea trout fishery for 2019 including the list of open, catch and release and closed rivers can be found on the IFI website.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Submissions are now open in a public consultation hosted by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) around a proposed angling bye-law which focuses on the conservation of sea trout and brown trout on the River Bandon.

The new bye-law aims to help conserve the numbers of brown trout of all sizes taken from upstream areas of the river and its tributaries, as well as the numbers of young sea trout taken in the lower river and upper estuary.

There is currently no minimum length size specified when catching and retaining a sea trout or brown trout on the river. In addition, there is no ‘bag limit’ on the number of brown trout an angler can retain.

The new bye-law would set a minimum length of 25 centimetres for any sea trout or any brown trout caught and retained on the waters of the River Bandon and its tributaries, and a bag limit of not more than three brown trout per day on the waters of the River Bandon and its tributaries.

The bye-law would also require anglers to fish by catch-and-release methods, ban the use of worms, and allow only single barbless hooks in angling for brown trout once the three per-day bag limit had been reached.

Interested parties should make a submission to the consultation in writing. Submissions should be marked ‘Public consultation – River Bandon (Conservation of Trout)’ and be submitted by post to Inland Fisheries Ireland, Sunnyside House, Macroom, Co Cork, P12 X602 or by email to [email protected]

The deadline for receipt of submissions is 5pm on Monday 31 December. All submissions received by IFI will be published on its website at www.fisheriesireland.ie.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has launched its Sponsorship Programme for 2019 and is now inviting applications from suitable angling events and initiatives nationwide.

The programme, which is one of the funding mechanisms of the National Strategy for Angling Development, awarded funding to 62 Irish angling events and 10 teams representing Ireland in overseas international events to the combined value of €30,000 last year.

Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, said: “I want to congratulate Inland Fisheries Ireland for making financial support available once again in 2019 for projects and events which will support novice and junior anglers and help grow angling tourism.

“I support Inland Fisheries Ireland’s aim to help ‘bring angling to the people’ by supporting initiatives which help remove barriers to those looking to try fishing or for younger people who already enjoy the pursuit. IFI is working to support events and initiatives which promote the angling tourism product with a view to growing angler tourist numbers and economic return.”

The Sponsorship Programme supported 17 initiatives by local angling clubs during the year which included junior competitions, summer leagues, disability outreach programmes and angling coaching workshops.

In total, 630 juvenile and novice anglers participated in these initiatives and almost 300 of them joined a fishing club for the first time following their participation in a local engagement project.

In addition to junior and novice angling projects, there were 28 large scale angling events supported via the programme in 2018 with 1,866 experienced anglers taking part. Over 800 anglers travelled from outside Ireland to participate in these angling competitions, IFI says.

The events and initiatives which are eligible for funding in 2019 include:

  • Large international competitions held in Ireland which showcase Ireland’s angling and contribute to local economies, supporting jobs and businesses.
  • Novice angler events and training courses which increase participation in angling including funding of transport hire for participants to facilitate attendance at novice angler events.
  • Initiatives to promote fisheries awareness and/or conservation and protection of the inland fisheries and sea angling resource.
  • Initiatives promoting angling as a key Irish tourism activity, such as via high quality angling promotional videos, seminars, coaching, training, workshops, etc.
  • Juvenile and minority angling teams representing Ireland at international events both home and abroad.

“Our 2019 Sponsorship Programme will play an important role in driving angling participation among novice and junior anglers,” said Suzanne Campion, head of business development at IFI. “The Sponsorship Programme has awarded €30,000 per year over the past five years to angling clubs and groups nationwide to help in the delivery of local angling events.

“In addition to supporting those who are casting for the first time, we also have a unique opportunity to grow our angling tourism product. The Sponsorship Scheme offers clubs and associations an incentive to engage overseas anglers to visit our renowned wild fisheries and to enjoy fishing here in a conservation focused manner.”

Applications for funding from the Sponsorship Scheme are now invited from angling clubs, associations or any local group organising an angling initiative.

The scheme will remain open for funding applications until Friday 18 January with applications for equipment, staff support and biosecurity assistance available throughout the year. Awards will be subject to budget availability and adherence to the scheme requirements.

To find out more and to apply, see the Sponsorship Programme page on the IFI website.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Ballinrobe & District Anglers have successfully completed a project which will greatly improve access to a popular angling destination at Cushlough Bay in Co Mayo.

The project was funded by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) via the National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD) Fund. The location at Cushlough Bay, off Lough Mask near Ballinrobe is used by domestic and visiting international anglers alike.

The project saw improvement works completed on the angling club’s carpark to make it safe and accessible for anglers. This included resurfacing and realigning of the carpark, as well as the provision of security fencing around the perimeter.

The club was awarded €21,263 from IFI to carry out the work. The funding was granted in June, after the club completed its corporate governance requirements, with the project at completion stage just a few weeks later.

IFI granted support under its National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD) which aims to ensure that Ireland’s fish stocks and angling infrastructure are protected and enhanced for the economic value and recreational benefit which they offer to communities across Ireland.

The fisheries resource is worth €836 million to the Irish economy annually and supports upwards of 11,000 jobs, often in rural and peripheral communities.

In addition to the funding provided under the NSAD, Ballinrobe & District Anglers and the World Cup Trout Fly Championship Committee provided €6,641 to upgrade the slipway as an extra part of the project.

Sean Canney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, said: “Investment in angling access and infrastructure is a key component of the current round of NSAD funding and the Ballinrobe club has demonstrated that, working in partnership with Inland Fisheries Ireland and underpinned by significant grant aid, valuable community driven projects will be delivered.

“The project will be of major benefit to local, visiting and international anglers and will define Cushlough Bay as a top class venue for social and competitive angling and can assist in attracting international events.”

Suzanne Campion, head of business development at IFI, added: “Accessibility and safety is a priority if our inland fisheries are to be enjoyed by everyone. I am delighted that this project is complete in Ballinrobe at an important angling location which has both recreational and socio economic benefit to the local community.”

Kevin Egan, chair of Ballinrobe & District Anglers, commented: “This is an outstanding project which we are delighted to complete. The funding from the National Strategy for Angling Development allowed us to upgrade the parking facility which will be of benefit for local anglers and tourist anglers.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has noted with caution the findings from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report on water quality in 2017.

While it welcomes the fact that the number of fish kills in Irish waters were at a historic low last year, IFI is calling for continued awareness of water quality issues in light of the EPA’s conclusion that water quality is once again in decline.

According to this latest report, there was 14 fish kills in 2017, affecting 7.8km of river with 2,123 dead fish recovered. This is significantly lower than the worst years of 1987 and 1989 when there were more than 100 fish kills reported.

IFI’s Environmental Officers carried out 26,000 environmental inspections last year across agricultural sites, habitats, industrial sites, wastewater and water treatment plants, civil engineering sites and forestry sites.

Despite the positive drop in serious pollution events causing fish mortalities, IFI remains concerned about the reduction of water quality, with the EPA reporting a 3% drop in river water quality since 2016 and a 0.6% loss in high-quality river sites.

The inland fisheries and sea angling resource contributes €836 million to the Irish economy every year and supports 11,000 jobs in rural communities.

“Ireland has some of the best wild fisheries in Europe and while water quality in Ireland still compares favourably with our European neighbours. The current decline is a source of concern as any impact on the quality of our waters can have a negative impact on the freshwater fisheries resource,” said IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne.

“Not only is the quality of our natural environment and aquatic habitat inextricably linked to the appeal of Ireland as an angling and holiday destination, it is also a very important source of wellbeing for our people.

“It is essential that we protect and conserve our freshwater assets, meaning our rivers and lakes. The long-term conservation of the resource requires maintenance of healthy and ecologically viable ecosystems.

“That means that we need to prioritise monitoring and protecting water quality as well as dealing with other issues such as removing fish migration barriers, improving practices which cause physical changes to fisheries habitat, dealing with changes in water quantity and controlling the spread of invasive species,” Dr Byrne added.

Published in Inland Waterways
Page 6 of 25

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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