Off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland lies a series of islands known as The Blasket Islands.
Forming the western-most inhabited settlement in Ireland until the mid-twentieth century, the Islanders, as they’re locally referred to, were a fishing community. Because they had to commute to mainland via boats, they were frequently isolated due to tumultuous weather conditions, sometimes for up to weeks on end. Eventually, the Irish government could no longer guarantee the safety of the small community and by 1953 the last Islanders packed their belongings to permanently leave.
Located along the Slea Head drive, a scenic coastal road along the Dingle Peninsula, is Dunquin, the small town with a pier where local boats leave every half hour to Great Blasket Island, one of the most renown islands in the archipelago.
Home to an array of wildlife, such as one of Ireland’s largest grey seal colonies, and stunning landscapes, it’s a popular tourist destination those exploring the Dingle Peninsula and County Kerry.
Last week, during a particularly slow day at my HelpX bed and breakfast, I decided to explore the infamous island. Aisling dropped me at the Dunquin pier and told me she would meet me back in a few hours. I approached the small hut selling the 25-euro round trip passages to the island, and when I found myself 10 euro short because they didn’t accept credit card, a local woman spotted me and told me to come back another day with the difference. I love Ireland.
After quickly walking down the steep walkway to the pier, I was jostled onto the boat by the skipper and handed a lifejacket. The sky was clear, but for some reason I kept singing the Gilligan’s Island theme song to myself – it was only supposed to be a three hour adventure… Luckily, we arrived quickly and safely and the weather continued to be fantastic for my afternoon on the island.
If you’re planning to visit the island, it’s a good idea to wear a jacket even if the weather is perfect; the winds and sea spray would probably have been too much without one. I donned the Dell jacket that I have been carrying in my backpack from my yesteryears in corporate America – thanks again, Steph!
As we approached the island, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Until now, I had always associated Irish coasts with dark water, overcast skies, and high cliffs. Though I was still surrounded by vertiginous cliffs, it was very different from other Irish coasts I had explored, and in an incredible way.
The crystal blue water and lush green fields combined to create an absolutely breathtaking view. For the first moments there, I felt like I could have been in the Caribbean or Croatia or Thailand – the stunning coastline was something from a postcard of paradise. Quickly enough though, I was transported back to Ireland because of the endless grazing sheep eyeing me curiously as I explored the island.
I spent my three hours on the island walking the circumference and taking loads of pictures. At times, I had to physically force myself to put my camera in my bag and leave it there. I loved spotting seals in the rocks and shallow water and following sheep as they wandered up the mountain paths.
My favorite moment was standing near the top of a hill on the far end of the island and having clouds swirl around me – it was completely magical!
Though my pictures will never do the natural beauty justice, they may be enough to convince you to visit the island if you’re in the area, which I would obviously highly recommend!
Debatably Useful Information: Though no one lives on the island year round, there is a small hostel and cafe on the island which operate during the summer; boats from Dunquin pier daily in summer season, 25-euro for adults roundtrip. Blasket Island ferries also leave from Dingle pier daily.