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Island News
“There is a better way” than the present approach taken by government to the fishing industry, according to the Chairperson of Comhdháil Oileán na hEireann, the Islands’ Federation. “This is a matter of huge importance regarding island community livelihoods and…
Skelling Michael - the Unesco world heritage site was closed to all visitors last year due to the health and safety considerations linked to Covid-19
Guides on Skellig Michael are concerned about lack of consultation over the decision to re-open to visitors from June 21st. As The Times Ireland edition reports, guides employed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) are concerned about the manner…
Named Saoirse na Farraige (freedom of the sea), the 400-seat passenger ferry was built in Hong Kong for Aran Island Ferries, the company run by the O’Brien family of An Cheathrú Rua, Co Galway.
Weather permitting, a flotilla of wooden-built Galway hookers will escort an aluminium-built passenger ferry out on the first leg of its maiden voyage between Galway city and the Aran islands this morning. Several gleoiteogs with Galway Hooker Sailing Club aim…
Skellig Michael may re-open to visitors from June 21st
Skellig Michael may re-open to visitors from June 21st, according to Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O’Donovan. The midsummer opening for the UNESCO world heritage site off Kerry will be subject to weather conditions,…
Aran Islands RNLI mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin retires after 35 years of helping to save lives at sea
After 35 years of dedicated service, Aran Islands RNLI mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin retires today. Johnny is one of Aran Islands RNLI’s longest-serving crew members having first joined the volunteer crew in 1984, as soon as he turned 17. His early…
Aran Islands RNLI to the rescue - a 2.5m sea swell and poor visibility due to the heavy rain added to the difficulty of the Medical Evacuation mission
Volunteers from Aran Islands RNLI had a call out in the early hours of this morning (Monday 24 May) to medically evacuate three people involved in an accident from Inis Mór. The crew were requested to launch their all-weather Severn…
Omey island, Connemara
Relatives of Omey islanders have renewed their appeal for a return of bones taken by the State in an emergency excavation three decades ago. As The Sunday Times reports, a professor of archaeology has been contacted about human remains removed…
File image of a road, stone wall, fields and seascape on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands
The Connacht Tribune reports that Inis Mór in the Aran Islands will receive some €165,000 for road resurfacing works. Bóthar Cill Mhuirbhigh gets the largest share — €90,000 — of the allocation from the Department for Rural & Community Development.…
Aerial image of Tory Island off North Donegal
A number of acoustic listening stations have been depleted at Tory Island to detect the presence tagged marine wildlife as part of an EU INTERREG research project. The 12 ALS units have been placed in the waters around the island…
Skellig Michael - The re-opening in June is “provisional”, but the 15 licensed ferry operators are optimistic that visits will be permitted.
Skellig Michael ferry operators are hoping that the UNESCO world heritage site may re-open to visitors from mid-June. As The Times Ireland edition reports, the sixth-century monastic site off the Kerry coast was closed to all visitors last year due…
Inis Meáin on the Aran Islands, in County Galway
An Island Housing Trust has been suggested by the Islands' Federation because of the difficulties of offshore island residents in getting housing on their own islands. While housing has become a major public issue, the problems for island communities in…
Inis Oírr is the southernmost of the three Aran islands with a population of just under 300
The Aran island of Inis Oírr is facing a water shortage with night-time rationing introduced this week. As The Times Ireland edition reports, Irish Water and Galway County Council have appealed to the islanders to conserve water for essential use.…
Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands
Irish offshore islands may have mixed feelings about hosting school tours, but the Department of Education says they can take place within Covid-19 guidelines. As The Times Ireland edition reports, The department says that “educational trips” by both primary and…
Aerial view of Inis Oírr, Aran Islands
The go ahead to upgrade pier works at Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, has been approved by the Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys. As Galway Bay FM reports, Minister Humphreys has announced that a business case is to…
With a steadily growing population of approximately 150 people, Rathlin Island is open to visitors later this month
The good news for lovers of Rathlin is following the latest easing of restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive, visitors are allowed to travel to the Island from Friday 23rd April. Rathlin lies nine kilometres across Rathlin Sound from Ballycastle…
Hanneke Frenkel making her
Turbot Island's main claim to fame has been its sighting by trans-Atlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown before they crash-landed at Derrygimlagh bog in north Connemara on June 15th, 1919. Turbot or “Inishturbot” is a few miles west…

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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