Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Island News
The inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat with the two walkers at Omey Island
Clifden RNLI came to the aid of two walkers who got cut off by the tide yesterday evening (Sunday 11 April). The volunteer crew were requested to launch the lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard at 5.50 pm following a…
Great Blasket Island off Co Kerry
One of the ferry companies that services the Blasket Islands is up for sale, as RTÉ Nuacht reports. Bádóirí an Bhlascaoid Teo operates a 48-passenger ferry between the island of Great Blasket and Dunquin in Co Kerry and is the longest…
With the successful remediation of the East Tip site into a 22-acre Public Park, the way is now clear for the remediation of the rest of Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour
The Government has assigned responsibility for the remediation of the former factory site on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour to the Department of Defence. Minister Simon Coveney stated that with the successful remediation of the East Tip site into a…
Bere Island lies at the entrance to the magnificent Bantry Bay and guards the deep water harbour of Berehaven, in West Cork
The Irish Islands' Federation has described as a "very unsatisfactory situation" that on offshore islands where there are not resident medical facilities or dispensaries, islanders are being required to travel to the mainland for Covid 19 vaccine injections. The Secretary…
Residents and staff of Áras Rónáin Community Nursing Unit on the largest Aran island of Inis Mór opted to rise to the occasion and mark a “difficult year”, having received their Covid-19 vaccinations
Senior citizens living offshore on the Aran islands have marked St Patrick’s Day with a Jerusalema dance challenge video. Residents and staff of Áras Rónáin Community Nursing Unit on the largest Aran island of Inis Mór opted to rise to…
WIORA racing at the Aran Islands first ever staging of the championships in 2017
The 2023 West of Ireland Offshore Racing (WIORA) Championships will be sailed at Kilronan Harbour on Inismor, following a vote at the WIORA AGM last week. Galway Bay Sailing Club with Cuman Seoltoireacht Kilronan as well as Foynes Yacht Club…
File image of the Dursey Island cable car
RTÉ News reports on West Cork farmers’ dismay at the decision to reduce the operating hours of the cable car link to Dursey Island where they graze their livestock. The winter schedule, which sees the service shut down at 4.30pm…
alt="Dún Eochalla lighthouse Aran Islands" title="Dún Eochalla" />
An abandoned lighthouse on the largest Aran island off Galway bay is for sale for over half a million euros. As Times.ie reports today, the lighthouse and ruined buildings command a view of the Atlantic from the island’s highest point.…
Islands Fishing Group Gets Recognition as EU Seafood Producer Organisation
In what’s expected to be a significant boost to offshore communities, the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation (IIMRO) has been officially designated an EU Producer Organisation. The IIMRO is based on Arranmore Island in Co Donegal and represents the interests…
The Irish Air Corps delivers the vaccines to the Aran Islands
Four west coast islands received Air Corps helicopter delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday as part of a plan to vaccinate all residents over 70 years of age together. As Times. ie reports today, general practitioners on the Aran Islands and…
File image of Keem Bay in Achill Island, Co Mayo
An online petition claims that “untold damage, both visually and physically” would be caused by development work at Achill Island’s Keem Bay. The campaign behind the petition is appealing to Mayo County Council to U-turn on its plans for various…
Aran Islands, County Galway - There are about 3,000 residents on 20 inhabited offshore islands around the coast
Island residents should be given group vaccinations in their communities rather than on the mainland, Éamon Ó Cuív has said. As Times.ie reports today, the Galway West Fianna Fáil TD, who was minister for rural and Gaeltacht affairs from 2002…
The Aran islands energy co-op is “campaigning hard” to ensure local communities will have a central role in future energy generation
The Government’s ambitious plans for renewable energy off the Atlantic coast should involve communities as active stakeholders and not just recipients of compensation, an island energy co-op has said. Dara Ó Maoildhia, chairman of Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann, the Aran…
County Kerry’s Valentia Island is examining the feasibility of combining offshore wind with electrolyser technology to convert water to hydrogen
Using green hydrogen to supply island energy needs is the theme of several projects which Irish offshore communities and universities are involved in. A consortium of Irish islands led by Kerry’s Valentia Island Co-op and Rathlin, Co Antrim is examining…
Howth Harbour in County Dublin is one of five additional Irish ports where fishing vessels on the British register can land from February 1st
Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has come to the rescue of Donegal islanders with fishing boats registered in Northern Ireland who were blocked from landing into their nearest port by the Brexit deal. Northern Irish vessels and boats owned by…
Islander James Coyne in a still from the video series Inishbofin in Lockdown
A new video series is providing vivid snapshots of life among a Connemara island community during lockdown. Filming for Inishbofin in Lockdown was completed last spring — when Inishbofin, off western Connemara, joined the three Aran Islands in agreeing to…

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating