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Island News
Maria Simonds Gooding and Mícheál Ó Gaoithín outside her cottage in Ceathrú, Dún Chaoin, 1970
Blasket islanders may be remembered as writers, but they were also artists. A new book curated by artist Maria Simonds-Gooding which is due to be published next month, highlights the creative spirit of the late Blasket islander Mícheál Ó Gaoithín.…
Inismore RNLI Visitor Experience (From L-R) Caelán Cullen-Quinn, Tommy Dirrane, Padraig Éinne Dillane, Daniel O’Connell, Coxswain John O’Donnell, Treasurer Margaret Gill, RNLI Head of Region Anna Classon, Station Mechanic Mairtin Coyne, Lena O’Connell, Alan O’Flynn, Ronan MacGiollaphadraig and Máirtín Ó Flaithearta. Seated is Aran Islands Lifeboat Operations Manager Michael T. Hernon
Aran Islands RNLI officially opened their new shop and Visitor Experience on Inis Mór this weekend, raising vital funds for the charity that saves lives at sea and awareness of the work of the lifeboat crew serving the islands. The…
Aran Islands RNLI official opening of shop and Visitor Experience poster
The RNLI’s most westerly shop in Ireland will officially open its doors next Saturday 1 October from 1-4pm on Inis Mór, raising vital lifesaving funds for the charity that saves lives at sea. And the day will also see the…
Music and marine life in Galway Atlantaquaria and jazz hosted by Claddagh hooker sailors are among events with maritime themes at this year’s Culture Night in the west on Friday, September 23rd. After a summer of sailing, Bádóirí an Chladaigh…
Aran’s Inis Oírr - a “do not consume” notice for its public water supply has been lifted
Islanders on Aran’s Inis Oírr have been informed that a “do not consume” notice for its public water supply has been lifted. Irish Water had issued the notice after detecting elevated levels of manganese in the public water supply. About…
Ros-a-Mhíl harbour, where fish landings by Irish vessels are falling
Several leading Aran Island fishers have spoken of how impossible it is for family businesses to continue fishing due to Brexit-related quota losses and escalating fuel costs. Interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1 Countrywide, John and Mary Conneely outlined the struggle…
Hanneke Frenkel finds washed ashore rope on Turbot Island
Turbot “new” islander Hanneke Frenkel is hosting an exhibition of her “sea carpets” made from ocean flotsam and jetsam as part of this year’s Clifden Arts Festival in north Connemara. Frenkel, who bought a cottage with her Dutch husband Stefan…
About 257 residents are affected on Inis Oírr, while about 5,676 customers are affected in An Spidéal, Irish Water says
The Aran island of Inis Oírr has been issued with a “do not consume” notice for its public water supply, which also applies to An Spidéal in Co Galway. The notices were issued by Irish Water after detection of elevated…
A decision was made to tow the fishing vessel the short distance to Corrán, the nearest and safest pier
Achill Island RNLI went to the assistance of two local fishermen whose 21ft fishing vessel was experiencing engine difficulties this morning. The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested by Malin Head Coast Guard to go to the assistance of the two…
Clare Island off the coast of County Mayo
Irish Water has issued a “boil water” notice with “immediate effect” for residents on Mayo’s Clare Island. Difficulties with the disinfectant procedure at the Clare Island water treatment plan are said to be the reason for the measure, which relates…
Inishbofin - Irish Water says the notice not to consume water applies to approximately 156 island residents on the public scheme
As Inishbofin prepares for a storytelling festival next weekend, residents on the island’s public water supply scheme have been told not to consume water due to elevated manganese levels. Irish Water says the notice applies to approximately 156 island residents…
Inis Meáin in the Aran Islands
Families from Co Meath and Co Limerick will be housed rent-free in the Aran Islands as part of a drive to boost the number of school children locally. The two families were chosen from more than 1,600 people — including…
a pod of dolphins swimming in the foreground
Arranmore RNLI responded to a call at 7.15am on Wednesday morning (10 August) to assist a 25ft fishing vessel with one onboard after it sustained engine trouble. The boat was drifting on to rocks at Calf Island which is located…
Ageing Isles fleet: MV Hebrides, one of CalMac’s oldest ferries was taken out of service for a third time last week, which led residents on some Scottish western isles being restricted to just one carton of milk and one loaf of bread
On several Scottish western islands, shops have been forced to ration essential items due to widespread ferry cancellations due to a broken-down vessel, reports The National. Residents have complained of food shortages imposed by local shops with islanders restricted to…
Aran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat
Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to two medical emergencies on a busy Bank Holiday Monday (1 August). The first call came at 3.42am when the crew on Inis Mór were requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard to…
Funding of over €357,000 for the construction of the helipad on Inishturk island in County Mayo has been approved
The Mayo offshore island of Inishturk is to secure a new helipad for use by Irish Coast Guard air-sea rescue helicopters. Funding of over €357,000 for the construction of the helipad has been approved by Minister for Rural and Community…

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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