Photos from the Inishkea Islands

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Deserted village on the Inishkea south island. As usual, click on
the thumbnails for much larger images


Barnacle geese in flight

A couple of days ago, I found this very welcome message from reader Duncan Sclare in my inbox. It has got me thinking that it’s more than high time I made a return trip to the West of Ireland to see some more of its wondrful remote Atlantic islands.

‘Hi Gavin,

‘Having read and enjoyed reading intheboatshed for some time now I thought I ought to add a little bit for others to hopefully enjoy.

‘One of my family’s favourite boating destinations is the Inishkea Islands, three miles off the west coast of Co Mayo, where we live.

‘The islands have an interesting history. They were inhabited up to the mid 1930s, but the community never really recovered from the great storm of 1927 when about 45 men mostly fishing from curraghs were drowned off the Mayo and Galway coast, ten of them from the Inishkea Islands.

‘The islanders moved to the nearby mainland and continued to graze animals and fish around the islands, as their descendants still do today.

‘Further back in time around 1900 there was a Norwegian whaling station on the south island. There are many myths and storys including tales of piracy and civil war, and stone-throwing incidents between north and south islands and, of course, various legends about poitín brewing.

The two villages on the one on each island are now slowly being reclaimed by nature, as can be seen in the photos.

‘I had the pleasure of meeting one of the last surviving people born on the island this summer. Her daughter and son in law had spent a couple of years doing up her old home, and brought her out on a beautiful August day to see it close up for the first time in almost 70 years.

‘There is a wide variety of wildlife including many grey seals that come ashore in the late autumn to have their pups. Barnacle geese, which give the islands their name, still come down from their breeding sites high up in Greenland to over-winter on the islands.

Mayo County Council are now putting together a long over due Conservation and Management Plan that will hopefully secure the islands future for all to enjoy and appreciate without damaging the rather delicate eco-system.

‘An excellent information site can be found here: Insihkea Islands.

‘Doing a bit of boat building myself will mail you if I have anything of substance to report. Keep up the good work

‘Regards, Duncan Sclare’

Many thanks for this Duncan – I’m most grateful you have taken the time to write in with your photos. I’m sure the image of the derelict cottages in particular will be very powerful for many people. Do let us know how your project goes!

For more posts about currachs including information about building the boats, click here.


Seal pup photographed on Inishkea