The Islands of Ireland
Posted by Niamh Allabyrne on the 31st of July 2013 at 16:28:02
The islands of Ireland are secluded havens dotted around the beautiful island of Ireland. With tales of pirates and ghosts, staggering coastal views, the barren beauty of the bogs, prehistoric sites lying next to early monastic settlements, each island is unique in its beauty and character – keepers of history and heritage, tradition and culture.
So next time you’re in Ireland be sure and visit some of this unique and specials jewels in the crown of Ireland…
1. Achill Island, County Mayo – is the largest island off Ireland’s coast and is home to some of the highest cliffs in Europe. It has 5 Blue Flag beaches and some spectacular coastal scenery – highlighted by the 40km Atlantic Drive which takes you around the island. People have been living on the island for the last 5,000 years and the evidence of the se early settlers can be seen with some megalithic tombs and promontory forts. Today the island is connected by a bridge but this has not changed the isolation or secluded nature of this windswept isle. Dazzling in summer, staggering in winter – this island will capture your heart from first glance.
2. Aran Islands, County Galway - 3 islands make up the Aran Islands - Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer. While each have their character and history, one thing they all have in common are the dramatic and almost encompassing sea-views, the maze of stony walls- carefully outlining the land of its owners and the tradition of the Gaelic tongue. The pace of life is slow and languid, the welcome warm and welcoming, the memories unforgettable
3. Bere Island, County Cork – has been voted Ireland’s tidiest island for the last 5 years and the community of Bere have made every effort to promote their island to visitors. With a plethora of activities on offer from cycling to fishing, a rich history with archaeological sites dating from the Bronze Age to the Medieval, along with beautiful scenery and a traditional “Céad Míle Fáilte” guaranteed - Bere Island should not be missed!
4. Blasket Islands, County Kerry – one of Ireland’s most famous groups of islands the Blaskets lie just off the Dingle coast. 6 islands make up the Blaskets and all are known for their rugged and stoic beauty against the wilds of the Atlantic. None of the islands are inhabited now – the last peoples left the Great Blasket and the largest of the group in the early 1950’s. Today the islands are poignant reminder of the difficulty of island living in a modern world. A visit to the Blasket Center located on the mainland is a must - read the words of Peig Sayers – who documented the lives and tradition of the islands and whose work has been translated into several languages.
5. Clare Island, County Mayo – lying just off the Mayo coast in Clew Bay, Clare Island was once home to Ireland’s famous pirate queen Grace O’Malley whose castle and burial place on the island can still be seen today. The island has a varied landscape from the hills of its bogs to the cliffs of its coasts. Clare Island’s crystal clear waters make for perfect diving conditions and with a vivacious nightlife, festivals, ancient sites and walks – your days will fill up with all you can do!
6. Rathlin Island, County Antrim – is the largest of Northern Ireland’s islands and the most northerly inhabited island off the Irish coast. It is notable in Irish history as being the site of the Vikings’ first raid on Ireland. There are several walking routes you can take to enjoy the famous beauty of the island and to spot some of the local wildlife such as seals and hares but in particular its seabird breeding colonies.
7. Saltee Islands, County Wexford – are a pair of small islands just off Wexford’s coast, last inhabited in the early 20th century, The waters around the islands are particular treacherous and the area is known as "Graveyard of a Thousand Ships". Despite this rather macabre association the island are spectacular with larger of the islands – the Great Saltee having Ireland’s most famous and popular bird sanctuary with Puffins and Guillemots and Razorbills common sights.
8. Skellig Michael, County Kerry – is the largest of the two islands known as the Skelligs. It is known for its desolate beauty and the remains of any early monastic settlement which begin between the 6th and 8th centuries and lasted until the 12th. Along the heady periphery of the island lie the several beehive huts - so called because of their conical design. Now a designated UNESCO site –visit this spiritual and dramatic settlement and be awe of the men who lived survived and strived in church hard conditions in centuries gone by.
9. Tory Island, County Donegal – lies off the Ireland’s north-west coast and its isolation has ensured that its traditions and histories have lasted into the 21st century, including the tradition of appointment an island king. It has several interesting historical sites such a St. Colmcille’s monastery which dates to the 6th century and a round tower, and it also has an abundance of rare wildflowers and bird-life.
10. Valentia Island, County Kerry – is noted as being the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable, however it is the beauty of history of the island that is truly memorable. The island enjoys some mild temperatures due to effects of the Gulf Stream and this in turn produces for some magnificent flora and fauna. Dotted around the island are the remnants of its early settlers such as Ogham Stones, beehive huts and early churches. Another beautiful island of Ireland’s coast – Valentia will not disappoint!
So there you go – just a small taster of Ireland’s islands……. If you would like to explore them for yourself – contact us today and set sail on a journey of discovery!