Saturday, 13 June 2015

Dingle Way - Blasket Islands

After our first two days of walking we had scheduled a day to visit great Blasket Island. The Blasket Islands lay just off the Dingle Peninsular and were home to some of Irelands best loved writers.

The Islands have been largely uninhabited since 1953. Today there is a small but growing community who live on Great Blasket Island and work is being done to restore some of the buildings. It remains an isolated outpost and hardy souls who chose to visit and stay on the island have to bring in all their needs.

I had booked seats on a boat operated by Billy O'Connor that transports people out to Great Blasket Island. Here is what Billy's promo has to say:

Please note facilities are limited on the Great Blasket Island. However we feel this adds to the appeal of the Great Blasket experience which brings you back in time and back to basics. Below is a list of recently renovated amenities provided for self catering accommodation :
- Running water
- Toilets
- Showers (sometimes cold)
- Gas cookers
- Beds and bed linen

Note the island has no electricity and therefore no Wi-Fi, no internet, no electronic devices and certainly no TV, however you will have real life experience camp fires, watch the sunset in one of the most westerly points in Europe. All sailings to and from the island are weather dependent. Mobile Phone reception is available. Please bring all food needed. Basic self catering breakfast is provided in the hostel.

For further information please visit as we offer package deals which include ferry to the island, accommodation and basic breakfast in the cafĂ©.  We understand that this accommodation is not for everyone, but we have had great feedback and customer satisfaction from what we do have.

Ferry's to the Great Blasket Island are available from Dingle marina daily.
In the end only Trevor, Jen and I went out to great Blasket Island. sue and Michelle elected to spend the day in Dingle.

The Dingle Marina parking area was full of tour buses and this is not yet the height of the season!  Quite a number of boats take groups out on harbour cruises which include the possibility of seeing the resident dolphin, Fungie.

Shortly before midday Billy arrived at the Dingle Marina having already done a run out to the island.  His boat is licenced to carry 12 passengers and there were 12 of us who boarded. As we headed out through the harbour we kept an eye out for Fungie however there were far too many boats circling in the target area and Billy promised that we would have a greater chance of spotting Fungie on our return as most of the other boats would have finished for the day by then.

Leaving the Dingle Marina
We had seen the rugged coastline from the land but the views from the sea were more spectacular by far.

There are a large number of islands just off the Dingle Peninsula from tiny specs in the ocean to reasonably sized ones.

Finally we had a view of Great Blasket Island and its abanoned, and now ruined, dwellings.

Getting ashore required us to transfer to a Zodiac and be landed on a rough ramp.

Passengers transferring to the Zodiac
 Once on shore we headed up to the cafe which operates out of one of the repaired dwellings.

The cafe was well patronised
once lunch was consumed I headed off to walk around the island. There was plenty of time to do this as we had 4 hours on the island. Jen and Trevor did a walk up to one of the high points while I was doing my circumnavagation.

Some of the abandoned houses on Great Blasket Island
I can see the attraction that the island had for writers. There is very little to interrupt the creative juices except perhaps the thought of whether there was enough food in the larder for a meal. The isolation of the island, only accessable in good weather, certainly called for toughness in those who chose to live there. Yes, the wild beaty of the place would have been some compensation and there was certainly a community of folk who lived there but it certainly was not the sort of life tht most of us would choose.

The sea was a bit choppy as we returned to the boat. This made the transfer from the zodiac to the boat a little more challenging. This all added to the fun of the day.

On the return trip to Dingle we came along under the cliffs which allowed us to view a seagull nursery as well as some of the geological features at close range.

Coming back to the harbour entrance we did come across Fungie.

The couple in the boat have been coming out to visit Fungie every day since 1991.

Fungie was a very large dolphin.

The weather had been great and the scenery going to and from the island was great. Visiting the island certainly put the isolation of the inhabitants into perspective.

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