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Displaying items by tag: Royal Canal Greenway

Construction has started on Phase 3 of the Royal Canal Greenway, which runs from Dublin’s North Strand to Phibsborough.

Phase 3 of the project will come in at a cost of just under €31 million and will provide 2.1km of pedestrian and cycle track along the banks of the Royal Canal, extending from Newcomen Bridge at the North Strand Road to Crossguns Bridge in Phibsborough.

Upon completion, which is expected in the second quarter of 2025, there will be a continuous 3.2km cycling and walking route through the north city from Phibsborough to the River Liffey.

It will include accessible ramps from the canal towpath to all road crossings, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Royal Canal and a new community plaza.

The route will also form part of the Dublin to Galway Greenway, which was first announced in 2012 by then-Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and was due to be completed in 2020.

The Phase 3 works to the Royal Canal Greenway were approved in 2015 but the tender was not issued until April of last year. The project is a collaboration between Dublin City Council, Waterways Ireland and Irish Rail.

In addition to cycling and walking network upgrades, the project — in partnership with ESB Networks — will also facilitate future electricity network upgrades.

On Friday (17 February) Dublin City Council turned the sod on the project and Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy said she was “delighted to have reached the point where we can begin work on this immensely important project”.

She added that the greenway “will also play an important part in our common objective of reducing our carbon footprint”.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the project “will link communities, friends, schools and sporting facilities” along the way.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe labelled it a “hugely exciting project for the city but equally a very important one for the North Inner City and Dublin Central”.

Elsewhere, chief executive officer of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham explained more about the Phase 3 works.

“The delivery of this section will provide safe segregated cycling along the Royal Canal, linking the docklands to many of the city’s radial transport corridors, and on to places like Clontarf, Swords and the airport, Ballymun and Finglas, and to the planned Glasnevin Metrolink station,” she said.

Máirín Ó Cuireáin, Waterways Ireland’s Dublin development manager added that these works “will link Spencer Dock in Dublin 1 with Maynooth in Co Kildare, where the Royal Canal Greenway goes all the way to the Shannon”.

Published in Inland Waterways

On the next episode of Neven’s Greenway Food Trails on RTÉ One, chef Neven Maguire cycles the Royal Canal Greenway west of Maynooth to take in the attractions — culinary and otherwise — along the way.

His journey begins at Carton House with a luxurious breakfast. He meets executive chef Gary Rogers in Kathleen’s Kitchen, a restaurant located in the old servant’s kitchens which still has many of its original features such as cast iron stoves from the 1700s.

Neven’s next stop is Multyfarnham near Mullingar, where he meets chef and cookery instructor Kamalika Ranasingha who runs the award-winning Multyfarnham Cookery School in the picturesque grounds of Multyfarnham Friary, a Franciscan friary which is over 700 years old.

Neven then takes a boat trip along the Royal Canal and is joined by Derek Whelan of the Royal Canal Amenities Group, on a boat belonging to Waterways Ireland. Derek tells Neven about the history of the inland waterway, and they travel along the Whitworth Aqueduct which was built in 1816 — an incredible feat of engineering.

Heading to Lough Owel, Neven meets Joe Brady of Lough Owel Organic Beef near Mullingar. Joe, who runs a 60-acre organic cattle farm, brings his food truck to the shore of Lough Owel and prepares a delicious burger for Neven.

Joining the cycle way at Mullingar, Neven makes his way to Athlone where he calls in at Bon Chocolatiers to meet Georgia Quealy and Daniel Linehan. Here he learns how their luxurious chocolates are made and intricately decorated.

A little further north on the picturesque shores of Lough Ree is Wineport Lodge, where Neven meets head chef Darren Walsh who shares his mouth-watering recipe for slow roast pork belly.

Neven’s Greenway Food Trails is on RTÉ One this Wednesday 1 February at 8.30pm and viewers in Ireland can catch up later on the RTÉ Player.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland, in partnership with four local authorities, has launched a new winter ‘Make a Connection’ campaign to encourage people to ‘go green and blue’ this festive season and enjoy connecting with the outdoor spaces of the Royal Canal Greenway during the most wonderful time of the year, in a bid to reduce stress and boost overall wellbeing in the winter months.

The campaign has been launched by the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways in partnership with Westmeath County Council, Kildare County Council, Longford County Council and Meath County Council.

A representative from Waterways Ireland said: “Since launching, the Royal Canal Greenway has played an important role in providing a place for people to re-energise and destress.

“We know that from research there is a positive association between encountering green spaces, wildlife, nature, bodies of water such as canals and rivers, and mental wellbeing.

“The 130km canal route has an abundance of trees, plants and wildlife which means it's capacity to improve mental wellbeing is likely to be due to the multiple benefits associated with both green and blue spaces, and indeed the social, community connection with other

“We are encouraging as many people to visit the Royal Canal Greenway as possible this winter in a bid to access this free amazing space, which can play such a vital role in our wellbeing.”

Discover winter’s natural beauty

The Royal Canal Greenway travels from cosmopolitan Maynooth, through Enfield and Mullingar, to charming Cloondara in Longford. A mostly flat trail, the Royal Canal Greenway is steeped in history and was once the domain of placid barge horses, which today has become the realm of walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages and stages.

Indeed, earlier this year it was named European Cycle Route of the Year 2022 by leading Dutch walking and cycling fair Fiets en Wandelbeurs, as previously reported by Afloat.ie.

Many people find that packing a lunch and a ramble along the flat path, passing through picturesque waterside villages is one way to enjoy the Royal Canal Greenway.

It is also home to many welcoming cafes and coffee boxes to stop at for both food and drink, often with outside seating, as well as picnic spots, playgrounds and attractions so you can support local businesses whilst socialising with friends and family.

Enjoy active experiences

While the winter months can make it more difficult to get outside, there are still a wide variety of outdoor activities that can get you moving on the Royal Canal Greenway, for all ages, while staying active.

There are also a number of fitness events scheduled to take place on or near the Royal Canal Greenway in the coming weeks and in the New Year including weekly park runs in the scenic village of Kilcock and in Mullingar. Westmeath will also host the annual Mullingar Half Marathon on St Patrick’s Day.

Stay and unwind

The Royal Canal Greenway is also home to many hotels, guest houses and B&Bs who enjoy the views of both the green and blue spaces. The location of these allows enjoyments of the path at a pace that suits all age-groups and abilities.

As the trail passes through four counties all the way from Ireland’s Ancient East to Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, there are plenty of places to stay overnight at and relax. Many are offering special winter discounts so you can enjoy a festive staycation at an affordable price.

Published in Inland Waterways

Ireland's inland waterways got an early summer season boost with the news that the Royal Canal Greenway has won European Cycle Route of the Year Award. Funded by the Department of Transport, the Award is timely coming the same week as the Royal Canal Greenway was awarded ‘Best Tourism Initiative’ at the LAMA Awards.

Waterways Ireland led this project through its development and implementation coordinating with the Department of Transport, TII, and the Local Authorities in Longford, Meath, Westmeath and Kildare.

Royal Canal Greenway Wins European Cycle Route of the Year 2022

The Royal Canal Greenway has been awarded European Cycle Route of the Year 2022 by leading Dutch Walking and Cycling Fair Fiets en Wandelbeurs at a season opening event held in the Netherlands. Competing against long distance routes in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, the Royal Canal Greenway took home the winning accolade. Normally attended by over 40,000 enthusiastic cyclists, the Fiets en Wandelbeurs European Cycle Route of the Year Award is judged by leading, activity, tourism and journalist experts from across the Netherlands.

Waterways Ireland, Chief Executive John McDonagh said “I am delighted by this international recognition of the exceptional waterway heritage and Irish countryside experience offered by the Royal Canal Greenway. We look forward to welcoming many Dutch and other European tourists to the Royal Canal Greenway in future.”

The 130km Royal Canal Greenway begins 25km east of Ireland’s capital city Dublin, in Maynooth. It is a mostly flat, off-road route following a former towpath for horse‐drawn barges, featuring 90 bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts and links Maynooth with the Shannon, Ireland’s longest river, at the tranquil harbour village of Cloondara, Co Longford. The Greenway is well- serviced by bike hire operators, serviced and un-serviced accommodation providers and plenty of pretty, independent hostelries, café’s, bistros and coffee providers along its length. Luggage transport and other services are available to multi-day visitors, choosing the full trip or selecting one or more of the 14 sections on the Greenway.

Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Peggy Nolan: “The Royal Canal Greenway truly has the winning formula. It is evident that the Greenway is fast becoming a destination of choice for those looking for an active holiday. Set within the beautiful countryside and going through some of our most friendly towns and villages, the Greenway is a fantastic amenity for tourists and locals alike. County Longford looks forward to welcoming more visitors thanks to this recognition on the European stage.”

Other successes for the Royal Canal Greenway this year include the recently awarded 2021 All-Ireland Community & Council Awards for the “Best Tourism Initiative” 2021, and the “highly commended” in the “Excellence” category at the European Greenway Awards.

The Royal Canal Greenway recently celebrated its first birthday announcing that over 600,000 visits had taken place since its launch in March 2021 deriving €17.2m for the local economy. It was developed by Waterways Ireland in partnership with the four Local Authorities of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

Royal Canal Greenway information can be found here and for more information on the prize is here

Royal Canal Greenway wins Best Tourism Initiative at All Ireland Community and Council Awards

The Royal Canal Greenway, recently celebrated its first birthday announcing that over 600,000 visits had taken place since its launch in March 2021The Royal Canal Greenway, recently celebrated its first birthday announcing that over 600,000 visits had taken place since its launch in March 2021

The Royal Canal Greenway has been announced as the winner of the award for the Best Tourism Initiative at the 2021 All Ireland Community and Council Awards. The Royal Canal Greenway received recognition in its category at the rescheduled awards ceremony, which took place on Saturday 09 April 2022, at the Crowne Plaza, Dublin Airport.

Sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, the Best Tourism Initiative award seeks to recognise an initiative which directly increases visitor numbers to an area or to Ireland as a whole and its overall impact on visitors, communities and new and existing businesses.

John McDonagh, Chief Executive, Waterways Ireland, said: “We are pleased to see the All Ireland Community and Council Awards recognise the potential of this phenomenal asset, which, thanks to the relatively level towpath is suitable for walkers, runners and cyclists. Launched in spring 2021, the greenway is in its infancy yet continues to impress visitors from across Ireland and beyond and has already contributed immensely to the local tourism industry. As we continue to further enhance the offering for those who visit the greenway, we are encouraged by the recognition received by these awards.”

The Royal Canal Greenway, recently celebrated its first birthday announcing that over 600,000 visits had taken place since its launch in March 2021 deriving €17.2m for the local economy. It is the longest greenway in Ireland, stretching across four counties and runs through both Ireland’s Ancient East and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. It was developed by Waterways Ireland in partnership with the four Local Authorities of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

Cathaoirleach of the County of Kildare, Cllr Naoise Ó Cearúil said; “I was delighted that the Royal Canal Greenway was recognised at this year's LAMA Awards. This project shows what can be achieved when County Councils work together alongside Waterways Ireland. The Greenway proved to be a great amenity during the Pandemic and is now an excellent tourist initiative that we can be proud of.”

Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon said “A deserving winner, the Royal Canal Greenway has already proved itself to be greatly valued by the people and businesses of County Longford, as well as our many visitors. It is great to see this fantastic amenity get the accolades it has truly earned. We look forward to the continued development of this impressive greenway. We also look forward to welcoming even more people to the Royal Canal Greenway on foot of this great endorsement from the All Ireland Community and Council Awards.”

Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, Councillor Sean Drew said: “The Royal Canal Greenway is a wonderful attraction for County Meath adding to its attractiveness for outdoor tourism. We are so proud to be part of a collaborative effort across four councils and Waterways Ireland that brought about this Greenway. To have achieved the recognition of the All Ireland Community and Council Award for Best Tourism product is a great honour.”

The enchanting Royal Canal Greenway is 130km of level towpath, and starting from the trailhead in cosmopolitan Maynooth, which is 25km east of Ireland’s capital city Dublin, it follows the canal as it passes through the pretty towns and villages of Kilcock, Enfield, Longwood, Killucan, before reaching the busy market town of Mullingar. Continuing west from Mullingar, the route passes through Coolnahay Harbour, Ballinacarrigy, Abbeyshrule, Ballymahon and Keenagh. At Keenagh, the trail either continues along the Royal Canal to where it meets with the Shannon, Ireland’s longest river, at the tranquil harbour village of Cloondara, or heading north, follows the Longford Branch of the Royal Canal, to the bustling town of Longford.

Published in Inland Waterways
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New research from Waterways Ireland has found that more than 640,000 trips have been taken on the Royal Canal Greenway since it opened in March 2021.

The €12m, 130km amenity crosses Kildare, Meath, Westmeath, and Longford and is a joint initiative between Waterways Ireland and the local authorities in those areas.

It is the longest greenway in Ireland, running from Maynooth in Co Kildare to Clondra in Co Longford along a former towpath for barges on the inland waterway.

The greenway features 90 bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts along its route. High-profile attractions include Carton House in Maynooth, Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre — one of the largest prehistoric roads in Europe — and Center Parcs in Longford. The 165km self-guided National Famine Way also travels largely along the greenway.

The Royal Canal Greenway also forms part of EuroVelo 2, a 5,000km “Capitals Route” that passes through Ireland, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Russia.

Visitors can choose to complete the entire 130km flat, off-road trail in one go, or explore the shorter designated routes between the 14 connecting access points and towns, which range from 6km to 15km.

Waterways Ireland appointed Tracsis in 2021 to undertake a validation exercise on the data from physical counters in place along the Greenway and to undertake a consumer survey.

The research found that the amenity has returned a dividend of €17.2m to the business community in its first year of operation, returning the investment in the project in eight months. The economic dividend was based on a weighted average visitor spend of €27.

The research also found that across the four counties involved, 17 new businesses have opened and 13 confirmed that they have pivoted or expanded to provide for greenway customers.

Waterways Ireland chief executive John McDonagh said: “We are delighted that the Royal Canal Greenway has been an outstanding success in its first year.

“We acknowledge the commitment of our partners in Longford, Kildare, Meath and Westmeath county councils in delivering this greenway and that of local communities and businesses, which have helped to make it a success by creating new tourist and recreational opportunities.

“We look forward to welcoming more domestic and international visitors in the coming years.”

Acting chief executive of Kildare County Council, Sonya Kavanagh noted: “In the first half of 2021, people’s movements were restricted by COVID measures and so it was very fortuitous that we were able to open the Royal Canal Greenway during this time.

“Local communities now use the greenway for regular off-road accessible recreation, and it continues to attract new and return visitors.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Christmas has arrived along the Royal Canal Greenway as a line-up of festive things to do and see at its multiple trailheads are announced.

In Kildare, visitors can veer off the greenway to experience a taste of Christmas with Festive Afternoon Tea at Carton House, available Thursdays to Sunday.

In Longford, those keen to kick start their New Year’s health resolutions early can hire a bike from the Midlands Cycle Hub in Cloondara or at Ballymahon Greenway Cycles to avail of seasonal special offers on bike hire over the December and Christmas holiday period.

Then unwind and enjoy festive entertainment after your Royal Canal visit with a performance of Longford’s Snow White Christmas Pantomime which is running at St Mel’s College from 20 December to 2 January.

Also not to be missed are Fiona Egan’s Festive Cookery Class (runs throughout December, booking required) and Longford’s Traditional Panto, which runs from 20 December to 2 January (book here).

If you’re in Westmeath, get into the festive spirit at Mullingar Arts Centre this Christmas with its extensive programme of festive fun events and performances for all the family.

Visitors seeking to stay awhile can find respite at popular accommodation options in Westmeath including the centrally located Newbury Hotel and the family-run Annebrook House Hotel, situated in the heart of Mullingar nearby and renowned locally for its annual breath-taking Christmas foyer display.

Refuel at one of Westmeath’s picturesque eateries. Nanny Quinn’s, located on the banks of the Royal Canal by Lock 18 at Thomastown Harbour, is a must-taste restaurant serving fresh, local home-cooked fare and is adorned with Christmas lights offering a charming festive experience.

And see Santa while you stop off in Westmeath at the Andean Alpacas Christmas Experience where you can explore the festive pathways, visit the elves and receive a gift from Saint Nick himself.

Your little elves can even post a letter to Santa in a special letterbox destined for the North Pole, feed the alpacas and site and have storytime with Mrs Claus.

Speaking about the events planned for the festive season, Sharon Lavin of Waterways Ireland said: “As Ireland’s longest greenway covering over 130kms across Kildare, Longford, Meath and Westmeath, the Royal Canal Greenway has plenty of activity happening this Christmas.

“There is an abundance of activities planned near our four main trailheads, whether you are in the mood for a festive feast or taking the whole family to see Santa, visitors can enjoy the seasonal beauty of the Royal Canal Greenway while still partaking in the festive events and activities along the way.”

Check out the Royal Canal Greenway on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter where more information about events is being added daily.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Royal Canal Greenway is the place to be this upcoming Halloween with 16 spooktacular events happening all along the 225-year-old Royal Canal this mid-term break.

The greenway, which is the longest in Ireland at 130km, encompasses four counties — Kildare, Longford, Meath and Westmeath — and has an abundance of stops with plenty of activities for all interests this Halloween including a haunted train, a spine-tingling med-evil exhibition, a Halloween feast and even a spooky science camp!

Sharon Lavin of Waterways Ireland said: “We are thrilled to have such a wide variety of offerings this Halloween along the Royal Canal Greenway. Across all four counties through which the Royal Canal Greenway travels we have something for everyone throughout the week.

“Whether you want to spend your days enjoying leisurely walks in the countryside or entertaining the family between cycle stops you are sure to find what you are looking for. It’s easy to stay over and keep exploring.”

Waterways Ireland has put together a handy list of events to make sure you avoid the horror of missing out this Halloween — but be sure to act fast as booking is essential for many of these happenings.

Published in Inland Waterways

The 130km Royal Canal Greenway from Maynooth to Cloondara was launched in March this year and proved a big hit with locals and visitors alike over the summer months, according to Waterways Ireland.

Now the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways has commissioned Tracsis Traffic Data to gain feedback and delve deeper into who the greenway’s users are and how they’re using it via an online survey this month.

“We want to understand how the Royal Canal Greenway is contributing to the visitor economy across the counties of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford,” Waterways Ireland says.

If you have recently visited the Royal Canal Greenway anywhere between Maynooth to Cloondara, the short five-minute survey asks you to share your thoughts on the experience.

The link is also available via QR codes placed along the greenway, and there’s a chance to win a €100 shopping voucher for those taking part. The closing date for the survey is Sunday 31 October.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises users of the new Royal Canal Greenway in Co Longford that the towpath on the 44th level of the inland waterway at Killashee will be closed from next Monday 29 March to Monday 12 April to facilitate essential maintenance works.

These investigate works have been classified as critical infrastructure works so they will continue over the current period of increased Covid-19 restrictions.

Published in Inland Waterways

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan will be joined by Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, for the virtual launch of the Royal Canal Greenway this coming Wednesday 24 March.

No pre-registration is required for the Waterways Ireland live stream, which will be available from 10am HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
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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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