Off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, a group of abandoned sandstone islands rise out of the Atlantic Ocean. For hundreds of years, the Blasket Islands (Na Blascaodai) were home to an Irish-speaking population; however, in 1953 the Irish government decided that, due to their isolation, the islands were too dangerous for habitation and ordered a mandatory evacuation.The Basics
During a visit to Great Blasket— the only accessible island— you’ll find the ruined remains of the island’s former towns. An 8-mile (13-kilometer) walking path takes visitors past some of the island’s most spectacular scenery, which includes rugged sea cliffs and white sand beaches, and gives wildlife lovers the chance to spot the shorebirds and seals that now call the island home.
Dolphin- and whale-watching tours leaving from Dingle typically visit Great Blasket Island; although most don’t land on the island, they moor offshore so that passengers can see the abandoned village. Sightseeing tours off Slea Head Drive offer passengers the chance to view the islands from afar as they reach the peak elevation of 328 feet (100 meters).Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Blasket Islands are a must-visit for those interested in nature and Irish history.
- Visitors are permitted to camp on the island overnight.
- The ferry does not land on the island so passengers need to transfer to Rigid Inflatable Lifeboats (RIB) once the ferry gets close. The final part of the crossing can be rough.
- If you’re prone to sea sickness, ensure you have some anti-nausea tablets to hand.
There is a ferry service to Great Blasket from the village of Dunquin. The harbor is around a 25-minute drive from Dingle Town or a 50-minute bus journey using the number 275A. Boats to the Blasket Islands run between March and September and are weather dependent, so call ahead to check that they’ll be running on the day you want to visit.
When to Get There
If you are planning to take a wildlife-watching tour, note that puffins can be seen in the area between April and the end of July-beginning of August. Basking sharks and dolphins are plentiful in the area throughout April and May, and you might see Minke whales from March to September.Great Blasket Island
Great Blasket Island was known for its great tradition of folklore and storytelling. It was the home of three noted Irish writers: Tomas O Criomhthain, Peig Sayers, and Muiris O Suilleabhain, whose works were all written in Irish. The homes of O Criomhthain and O Suilleabhain are now in ruins but the house in which Sayers once lived has been restored.