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Island News
Scattery Island on the Shannon Estuary contains the remains of an ancient monastic heritage featuring a round tower, the cathedral and several medieval churches. It also has a lighthouse, an artillery battery and a restored village
The Shannon Estuary’s Scattery Island is to reopen to visitors on Friday, May 24th. Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Kieran O’Donnell TD noted that the OPW had recently restored the “street” on the island. It…
Skellig Michael is home to a profusion of seabird life, and neighbouring Little Skellig is the second-largest gannet colony in the world
UNESCO world heritage site Skellig Michael ( Sceilg Mhichíl) has opened to visitors for the 2024 season. Access to the monastic site off the Kerry coast is dependent on favourable weather, sea, and island conditions, the Office of Public Works…
Chloe Ní Mháille, bainisteoir or manager of Comhar Caomhán Teo, the Inis Oírr Co-op
The dangerous situation of Inis Oírr pier is due to be discussed at a meeting between the island co-op and Galway County Council officials today (Wed). The local authority’s islands committee is travelling to Inis Oírr, weather permitting, for discussions.…
File image of a basking shark in Irish waters
One of Achill Island’s last hunters of basking sharks has welcomed the recent resurgence of the now-protected species, as The Guardian reports. Brian McNeill once joined the currach crews armed with harpoons who slaughtered hundreds of the marine wildlife giants…
The Raven Kaster, an educational “miniboat”, has been relaunched off Mayo’s Achill island from the Marine Institute’s Celtic Explorer
The Raven Kaster, an educational “miniboat”, has been relaunched off Mayo’s Achill island from the Marine Institute’s Celtic Explorer. The mini boat has been upgraded with solar-powered GPS tracking and new technology since its last voyage and has been set…
“Spike Island—the Rebels, Residents, and Crafty Criminals of Ireland’s Historic Island” was written by John Crotty and will be launched by Cork’s deputy mayor, Dr Colette Finn, on Tuesday (April 30).
One of Cork Harbour’s most notorious islands, Spike, is the subject of a new book published this week. “Spike Island—the Rebels, Residents, and Crafty Criminals of Ireland’s Historic Island” was written by John Crotty and will be launched by Cork’s…
The indicative map of the first Marine National Park announced on the Kerry coastline
Government ministers have announced Ireland’s first marine national park involving some 70,000 acres of Kerry’s land and sea. The new park, Páírc Náisiúnta na Mara, Ciarraí, is centred around Corca Dhuibhne in Co Kerry and includes the Conor Pass, the…
investigative journalist Kevin Magee
A long-running dispute over fishing rights around Rockall could be resolved following fresh discussions with the Irish authorities, the Scottish Government has told TG4. In a statement to the broadcaster’s investigative series, Iniúchadh TG4, a Scottish government spokesperson said that…
Rathlin Island ferry service - Charles Stewart, Director at Dunaverty Ltd, Dawn Hynes, Managing Director at Dunaverty Ltd and Robert Lynn, Business Manager at Danske
Dunaverty Ltd, the operators of the ferry service to Rathlin Island off the coast of County Antrim, have successfully completed their first year in business. The company has announced that it has increased its team to 18 and transported thousands…
Achill Island RNLI's all-weather lifeboat 'Sam and Ada Moody'
Two men were rescued off the coast of Achill Island on Sunday, April 14th, when their small open pleasure craft began drifting off Old Head. The Irish Coast Guard requested the assistance of Achill Island RNLI, who quickly launched their…
Inis Oírr pier on Friday evening as Storm Kathleen makes her presence felt off the Galway coast
As Storm Kathleen is forecast to sweep up the Atlantic seaboard, Aran Ferries has cancelled a number of sailings to the Aran islands this weekend. The company which runs its ferry service from Ros-a-Mhíl, Co Galway, says there will be…
Bronze Age Fort Identified in Clew Bay - Archaeologist Michael Gibbons says that initial surveys suggest the island was used for a fort dating from the late Bronze Age, and it is comparable to Inis Mór’s Dun Aengus
Archaeologists have discovered a prehistoric fort in Clew Bay which has been described as “very significant”. As The Irish Independent reports, the fort has been identified on Collanmore island, Co Mayo, which was once one of the Glenans Franco-Irish sail…
The prehistoric hill fort Dun Aengus on Inis Mor, the largest Aran Island off the coast of county Galway, recorded a 20% increase in visitor numbers
Coastal heritage sites such as Inis Mór’s Dún Aonghasa and Kerry’s Blasket Centre have recorded significant increases in visitor numbers, the Office of Public Works (OPW) says. Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór- which was the winner of the European film…
File image of Achill Island RNLI’s Trent class all-weather lifeboat
Achill Island RNLI carried out a medical evacuation off Clare Island on Monday night (25 March). The volunteer crew were requested to launch the station’s all-weather lifeboat just before 9pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to medevac…
One of Hanneke Frenkel's sea stacks on Turbot Island
In Search of Hy-Brasil, an exhibition reflecting fieldwork from Ireland’s offshore islands, has begun a nationwide tour on the Aran island of Inis Meáin. As previously reported by Afloat, the exhibition first appeared in the Irish pavilion at last year’s…
Aran island lifeboat coxswain Aonghus Ó hIarnáin and the O'Connell family - Daniel, Lena, Lena's mother Margaret Gill, and Jack and Olive (their younger brother Eoghan had left for a match)
An Aran island family with several generations of volunteering with the RNLI lifeboat are featured in the first episode of a special series of RTÉ Radio 1’s Seascapes to mark the RNLI’s bicentenary. The three-part series also carries an interview…

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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