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Displaying items by tag: Marine Institute

The Marine Institute will be exhibiting at two stands at the Irish Skipper Expo this Friday 23 and Saturday 24 February at the University of Limerick.

Firstly, the institute’s shellfish team will present the work it carries out on data collection, assessment and advice on shellfish species.

The newly published Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review for 2023 will be available both in hard copy and online, with data reported for all major shellfish species that the inshore fishing fleet rely on.

Its online equivalent, the Shellfish Fisheries App, will be launched providing online access to shellfish surveys and assessments undertaken by the shellfish team.

The industry provides much of the data going into the shellfish assessments and the stand provides an opportunity for both parties to discuss inputs and outputs from this important programme for the inshore fishing fleet in Ireland.

In addition to all issues relating to commercially fished shellfish around the Irish coast, the Marine Institute will be on hand to talk about the current inshore Vessel Monitoring System (iVMS), the ICeco (Irish Coastal Ecosystem) survey and the skipper self-sampling programme, currently out for tender, which is an opportunity for skippers to get involved and be paid for reporting of data on crab and lobster fisheries to the Marine Institute.

The EMFAF (European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund) Marine Biodiversity and Marine Knowledge Schemes team will also attend the Irish Skipper Expo to showcase to industry and stakeholders the priorities being implemented under these schemes.

These include contributing to the protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity and strengthening sustainable sea and ocean management. Marine Institute staff will be available to provide information on the implementation of the EMFAF operational programmes and the projects funded and implemented by the institute.

‘The biodiversity scheme under Ireland’s EMFAF programme helps provide the science and evidence basis to support a sustainable seafood production programme’

“In order for seafood production to be sustainable it is important that not only is the resource carefully managed, but the impacts of harvesting that resource on the wider ecosystem are also considered,” director of fisheries Ciaran Kelly said.

“The biodiversity scheme under Ireland’s EMFAF programme helps provide the science and evidence basis to support a sustainable seafood production programme that also protects and restores marine biodiversity.”

The Marine Knowledge Scheme, meanwhile, aims to enable the collection, management, analysis, processing and use of marine data to improve the knowledge on the state of the marine environment and inform a sustainable blue economy.

An important goal is to contribute to the achievement of climate change objectives. The scheme will improve understanding of impacts of climate change on marine activities and on the environment.

EMFAF has many projects under way at the moment under both schemes, including the assessment of the crayfish fishery to restore the crayfish stocks and protect critically endangered species.

In addition, the data and digital services programme enables the collection and analysis of marine data covering the full breadth of marine activities and ensuring delivery on national obligations relating to marine spatial planning, marine environment, fisheries data, marine renewable energy and climate.

Climate projects being implemented are contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation in fisheries and aquaculture. This will help to deliver on Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023. The focus of these includes the highly skilled areas of remote sensing and climate change projections. It means that Government and other stakeholders have a solid evidence base available to formulate decisions.

The EMFAF Marine Biodiversity and Marine Knowledge Schemes are cofunded by the Irish Government and the European Maritime Fisheries & Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) 2021-2027. The schemes are established under Priority 1 (Sustainable Fisheries) and Priority 2 (Sustainable Aquaculture) and Priority 4 (Strengthen Ocean Governance) of Ireland’s Operational Programme (OP) under the EMFAF.

Published in Fishing

The Marine Institute Explorers Education Programme team has launched a new set of resources for primary schools, aimed at promoting Ireland’s rich marine biodiversity in the classroom. The new class projects, called Fin-tastic Sharks+, will focus on the 71 species of sharks, skates, and rays that can be found in Irish waters. 

Cushla Dromgool Regan, Explorers Education Manager and lead author of the resources, said that the team was "delighted to be celebrating the launch of the Explorers Fin-Tastic Sharks+ new online shark resources over Valentines." 

The resources, which are available for free download from, include a range of cross-curricular activities that teachers and children can use to explore different shark themes in class or on the seashore. The content covers everything from STEM activities to design and communication projects, and is suitable for children of all ages. 

Patricia Orme, Corporate Services Director at the Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers team on creating new materials to promote Ireland's marine biodiversity in primary schools. "Primary school teachers and children around the coast love learning about sharks and their relatives," she said. "It is always a favourite topic to cover with children, teachers and our outreach teams, who visit the classes of over 13,000 children annually."

The resources include a new Explorers mermaid’s purse key that is suitable for children to use in the classroom and on the shore. The key covers the top ten shark and skate cases typically found on the shores around Ireland, and provides lots of extra shark and skate information to encourage children to become citizen scientists, recording their egg case finds online.

The launch of the new resources comes at a time when the Marine Institute's fisheries scientific team has recorded two baby white skates during the annual groundfish survey while on the RV Celtic Explorer. This was an extremely rare find, as the white skate is listed as Critically Endangered. Of the 58 cartilaginous shark, skate and ray species researched in Irish waters, over 60 percent of them are listed as a Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered.

Ms Dromgool-Regan explained that sharing positive stories about sharks, skates and rays can help people understand the importance of having these species in Irish waters. "This helps us all get involved in better managing and protecting our marine resource now and for the future," she said.

Published in Marine Science
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The Marine Institute has shared its pride in celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Sunday 11 February.

The United Nations Theme for the ninth International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Women in Science Leadership: A New Era for Sustainability”.

The Marine Institute provides scientific, research and development services to government, agencies, industry and society that support the sustainable use of our maritime area and the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems.

Sustainability is at the heart of how the institute works as an organisation and is a guiding principle for its research, scientific advice and economic development services, it says.

None of this could be achieved without the contribution of the many women who work in the institute, it adds, saying it has a longstanding commitment to equality in the workforce and to encouraging young people to consider a career in our sector.

Initiatives include education and engagement at national school level, its annual Transition Year programme and work as partners with many third-level institutions in Ireland and overseas.

The Marine Institute has a staff of 245 employees, of which female employees account for more than half (51.2%).

Patricia Orme, director of corporate Services at the Marine Institute said: “As an organisation we are committed to fostering the talents of women in all areas of marine science, particularly those at the early stages of their careers, as they are the future leaders of our sector.”

She continued: “Our current five-year strategy, Ocean Knowledge that Informs and Inspires, demonstrates our commitment to women in science leadership with a strategic initiative being to advance equality of opportunity for all, with specific actions as a public body focusing on gender equality.”

To mark the occasion, the institute is also sharing messages from some of its female staff, showcasing their work, its impact and the many meaningful careers available to women in science on its Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (X) and Instagram feeds.

Published in Marine Science
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The Marine Institute has announced its 2024 Summer Bursary Scholarship Programme, inviting third-level students to apply for work experience in a variety of marine areas. The programme, which has been running for over 30 years, provides essential career development, support, and inspiration to the next generation of marine professionals.

Designed to equip students with the skills to become ocean leaders and marine champions of the future, the Bursary Scholarship Programme is a key initiative of the Marine Institute's Strategic Plan 2023-2027: Ocean knowledge that informs and Inspires. Undergraduates of Universities and Institutes for Higher Education, both National and International, are eligible to apply for the programme, provided they have completed two years of study in a relevant discipline by the beginning of June 2024.

Successful candidates will work with full-time staff of the Marine Institute in a variety of exciting areas such as marine and freshwater fisheries monitoring, aquaculture, benthic monitoring, shellfish safety media and communications, SmartBay community engagements and Smart Bay AI, economics, policy analysis, human resources, oceanography machine learning, remote sensing, marine infrastructure, and marine communications.

Patricia Orme, Director of Corporate Services at the Marine Institute, said, "The Marine Institute Bursary Scholarship Programme has operated for over 30 years. It continues to offer opportunities for undergraduate students to develop their skills and strengthen their knowledge in relation to the marine sector. Participating students are enabled to make informed decisions early in their studies about the marine and maritime careers they would like to pursue."

The programme provides undergraduates with a unique opportunity to meet fellow students from other third-level colleges, as well as work with experts in their field, helping them form a future network in the marine sector. The bursaries are based at the Marine Institute's facilities in Oranmore, Co. Galway and Newport Co. Mayo.

The Marine Institute is committed to supporting a culture of high performance driven by its people, whose skills, experience, and passion for the marine are central to the work performed for government and other stakeholders. The Bursary Scholarship Programme, therefore, serves as an important investment in the future generation of ocean professionals.

To Apply for the 2024 Bursary Programme:

  • Please view the bursary titles available on
  • Select the two bursary positions that interest you the most and in order of preference
  • Complete the online application form and submit as per the instructions
  • Application Deadline Date is Friday 23rd February 2024

Online application form

Published in Marine Science

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and Marine Institute will host a workshop for industry this week on the requirements relating to sanitary surveys for shellfish harvesting areas and Ireland’s implementation of the relevant legislation.

The workshop will be held in person at FSAI’s head office in Dublin as well as online from 10am to 2pm this Thursday 8 February, and will include speakers from the SFPA, FSAI, Marine Institute, IFA-Aquaculture, CEFAS (UK) and AquaFact.

Keynote speaker will be Michelle Price-Howard from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Science (CEFAS). Price-Howard works with CEFAS as principal scientist for seafood safety and is an environmental microbiologist with 20 years of experience in environmental assessment, water quality and food safety microbiology.

Price-Howard’s work has included environmental risk assessments for sanitary surveys of both aquaculture and wild-harvest shellfisheries for Food Standards Scotland. She has also been involved in providing training at EU and national level on the planning and conducting of sanitary surveys.

In addition, the SFPA will provide presentations on data management and shellfish classification as well as an update on the sanitary survey programme in Ireland.

There will also be an extended session to allow for a discussion on any topic relevant to sanitary surveys that participants may wish to raise. To help better plan the event, participants are asked to send questions or topics in advance if possible to Una Walton at [email protected].

In-person registration is now closed but the workshop can be accessed remotely via Microsoft Teams (Meeting ID: 340 075 071 736; Passcode: g33dRq) or by calling in (audio only) to +353 1 592 3998 with phone conference ID 397 409 122#.

Published in Aquaculture

Extreme marine events such as marine heat waves are increasingly threatening to degrade ocean ecosystems and seafood security with potential devastating consequences to aquatic related businesses.

In order to prepare for such events, the Marine Institute, with colleagues in the Horizon 2020 Innovation Action EuroSea project, has developed a new marine observatory specifically designed to address the needs of the aquaculture sector.

The observatory web platform provides an early warning system that can be accessed at with a help-desk service for end users to provide suggestions or comments on their user experience.

Frequent end-user interaction was essential from the beginning of the project to ensure the service was in agreement with the needs of the industry.

This observatory integrates data from multiple ocean observing platforms (in-situ databuoys; satellites; numerical models) and provides easy access to information about the oceanographic processes affecting the fish farm facilities and its neighbouring waters.

During the EuroSea project, two oceanographic moorings with sensors developed by Xylem were deployed at the pilot sites at Deenish Island in Co Kerry and El Campello on the Costa Blanca in south-eastern Spain.

For the Irish site, satellite observations of ocean colour and sea surface temperature are provided together with information on the occurrence of marine heat waves.

The web portal also provides access to sea surface temperature historical data, starting from 1982, for any site within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) selected by the user in an interactive application.

Modelled forecasts (eg water temperature, significant wave heights) are linked to the warning system for the EuroSea demonstration sites with a facility for end users to receive notifications on their phone. The thresholds that trigger these warnings were agreed with the end-users when the system was developed.

Finally, best practice guidelines were developed for other partners around the world who plan to develop similar marine observatories. As such, the software is open-access and a scientific paper was recently published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Published in Aquaculture

The Marine Institute has released a new high-resolution geomorphology map on Ireland’s Marine Atlas for most of the Irish continental shelf to support ocean science, environment and biodiversity management and offshore renewable energy development.

Geomorphology is the scientific study of landforms and the processes that shape them.

The project, funded via the Marine Institute research grant scheme, has been developed in collaboration with the Marine Geoscience Research Group in UCC and the Geological Survey Ireland.

Through the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications funded Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS 2003-2006) and INFOMAR programmes (2006-2026), over 90% of the seafloor within Ireland’s designated and extended continental shelf area, which is in excess of 714,000 km², has been surveyed in high resolution by Geological Survey Ireland and Marine Institute.

This extensive dataset has enabled numerous research groups to delve into the transformative forces that have shaped our ocean seabed over time, including glaciations, sea level changes, currents and tides.

The combination of high-quality data, the application of advanced semi-automated mapping techniques and the recent development of international classification standards has offered the opportunity to create the most detailed and comprehensive geomorphological map of the Irish continental shelf to date.

Classification of all seabed features has undergone rigorous validation, drawing from an extensive body of scientific literature spanning the past three decades. By applying a consistent approach nationally, the map provides a unique resource to inform on a range of pressing issues within the marine environment.

Seabed mapping plays a pivotal role in addressing future challenges for the development and protection of the Irish offshore region.

Ireland’s Marine Atlas

While bathymetry data (eg water depth) alone provide a fundamental metric for many applications, geoscientists can add significant value by providing further data, analysis, and knowledge to better characterise the seabed.

The Marine Institute says this new geomorphology map is a prime example of how to transform scientific data into an important digital reference for policymakers, marine industries (eg offshore renewables, fisheries and aquaculture) and future marine scientists.

Marine spatial planning and resource management decisions will continue to be informed by the increasing range of digital products produced by the Marine Institute and partners.

Examples of practical application of geomorphology include decision support for the optimal placement of new offshore infrastructure; decommissioning of existing structures with considerations for their potential impacts on marine ecosystems; identification of constraints related to potential offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS); designation of future marine protected areas; and the development of more accurate models for coastal change and resilience.

The primary results of this initiative comprise 10 GIS layers that not only show the extent and location of thousands of seabed features but also detail the geological characteristics and environmental conditions responsible for their formation.

These data are now freely accessible and integrated into Ireland’s Marine Atlas under the Geology theme.

Ireland’s Marine Atlas, developed and maintained by the Marine Institute with funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, serves as a comprehensive resource for viewing and downloading marine environmental data relevant to Ireland's reporting obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

A full description of the geomorphology mapping methodologies, the classification scheme and the outputs are available. A scientific peer reviewed article describing the mapping process and outcome has also been published in the Journal of Maps.

Published in Marine Science

Young student scientist Juliette Ó Súilleabháin recently completed a project studying the conservation of white-clawed crayfish with the support of the Marine Institute.

Juliette — a second-year student in St Mary’s Secondary School Mallow — approached the institute’s Marine Environment and Food Safety Services team about her individual project: Assessing the Presence of White-Clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) in the Blackwater catchment area of Mallow using Environmental DNA Analysis and the identification of possible Ark Sites.

The student accompanied staff on fieldwork so she could learn non-invasive sampling techniques for this protected species. Subsequently, she visited the labs and learned how to extract DNA and run PCRs.

Her project has since qualified in the Biological & Ecological category for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, which opens to visitors from Thursday 11 January at Dublin’s RDS.

Juliette explained how her project came about: “I wanted to do a Young Scientist project on an ecological topic and contacted some ecologists for guidance. My original project involved the investigation of the presence and distribution of white-clawed crayfish (WCC) on the stretch of the Blackwater River where I live. A very recent crayfish plague outbreak in the Blackwater Catchment decimated the catchment’s crayfish population and put an end to my project.

“After further consultation, I chose the identification of potential WCC conservation ark sites as an alternative project topic. From my research, I learned about environmental DNA (eDNA) and the National Surveillance Programme for Crayfish Plague. I thought eDNA would be a useful tool in screening ark sites, so I contacted Bogna Griffin of the Marine Institute, and she kindly allowed me to accompany her on an eDNA sampling field trip to the Blackwater Catchment, and subsequently invited me to conduct eDNA laboratory work for my project in the Marine Institute in Oranmore, Co Galway.

“A massive thank-you to Bogna and the Marine Institute for giving me such a wonderful experience of a fascinating science topic!”

Supervising scientist Bogna Griffin said: “I was very impressed with [Juliette’s] attitude, the level of her write-up, and the depth of her knowledge in ecology and molecular biology. We are all very proud of her in the Fish Health Unit and wish her and all students the best of luck in January at the exhibition.”

Staff from the Marine Institute will be on hand as part of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Labs exhibit at the 2024 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, which runs until Saturday 13 January. Tickets are available HERE.

Published in Marine Science

The new Chief Executive of the State marine research agency, Dr Rick Officer, takes up duty this morning, (Monday, January 8).

He has been Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the Atlantic Technological University, established in April 2022 when three Institutes of Technology – Galway/Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny, with over 20,000 students - were merged.

He is looking forward to embracing the challenges and realising opportunities that the oceans present.

In this podcast interview, he tells me that he is looking forward to embracing the challenges and realising opportunities that the oceans present. “There are huge economic imperatives and opportunities that will require an enormous amount of greater knowledge to navigate towards achieving these possibilities.”

Dr Officer previously worked with the Marine Institute eighteen years ago. He says that demand for its services is expanding.

Listen to the Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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The Marine Institute, in collaboration with the Socio Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at the University of Galway, has published an update on the performance of Ireland’s Ocean Economy. The 2023 Ocean Economy Report provides an update on Ireland’s ocean economy for 2022 across three main economic indicators: turnover, gross value added (GVA) and employment.

The report estimates the annual trends across all sectors as well as commentary on 5-year, 10-year and post-Covid recovery (where evident). The report also provides information on the relative contribution of each marine industry to the ocean economy, an overview of direct and indirect impact of Ireland’s ocean economy, and trends since 2010.

The 2023 Ocean Economy report shows that Ireland’s ocean economy, in nominal terms:

  • generates over €7 billion in turnover;
  • has a direct economic contribution, as measured by Gross Value Added, of €2.85 billion; and
  • employs approximately 33,500 Full-Time Equivalents.

The Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report series provides a time series of nominal values for ocean economy industries. This year’s report reviews these values to also provide an estimate of ‘real values’ to adjust for inflation. The report shows that nominal and real values for the period 2010 to 2020 are similar and stable due to the low annual rate of inflation. However, from 2020 onwards the difference between the nominal and real values starts to increase due to higher inflation and the significant increase in gas prices in 2021 and 2022 in particular.

Preliminary results from the report were presented at SEMRU’s 13th Annual Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium, which took place on 13th December 2023 in Galway City. The symposium presented an opportunity for national and international researchers to discuss their research in the area of marine socio-economics and policy. This included topics such as national and regional implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning (UCC), community—led coastal socio-economic development in the Connemara Gaeltacht (QUB), building coastal resilience (University of Galway), challenges to eco-innovation in shipbuilding networks (TCD), and incorporating social and economic data into ecosystem-based management and advice (Marine Institute).

The audience also heard from the Korea Maritime Institute on the work undertaken to value the Korean Ocean Economy, as well as hearing from the Center for the Blue Economy in California, on the US Government’s recently launched Fifth National Climate Assessment and some of the related socio-economic challenges.

The methodology used to value Ireland’s ocean economy was also presented by the Marine Institute and University of Galway at a recent workshop organised by the OECD as part of their ongoing work on ocean economy measurement, innovation and foresight. Discussions were held with the OECD and other International practitioners from Portugal, US, Korea and Norway on how best to measure the value arising from our oceans, and the challenges in incorporating spatial information, as well as the importance of the inclusion of non-market values to get a more holistic value of our blue economy and the ecosystem services it provides.

The work undertaken to measure Ireland’s ocean economy is being co-funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage through a Service Level Agreement aimed at providing technical and scientific data and evidence to support Marine Spatial Planning in Ireland.

Published in Marine Science
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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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