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Great blasket island, Ireland
Great blasket island, Ireland (Image by wikimedia.org)

Great blasket island, Ireland 


Great Blasket is the largest of six islands that lie to the west of the Dingle Peninsula. The islands are uninhabited, except during the summer months, when three people live on Great Blasket; one is a weaver and the other two run the café and the youth hostel. The island 1s hilly, about 6 km by 0.8 km wide, and is home to donkeys, rabbits and seabirds.

During the 13th century the islands were leased by the Ferriter family, who built a castle here. Sadly there are no ruins to be seen, as the stones were removed in 1840 and used to build a Protestant soup school, which closed after the Great Famine in 1879. At the same time, all but 100 of the islanders left. Until the early 1800s the islanders survived by growing crops, hunting, and fishing from the shore. The arrival of the seine boat turned them away from the land and into fishermen, catching great numbers of mackerel and pilchard. Later they took up lobster and craytish fishing and for some years had a successful system running where they exchanged shellfish for tobacco and alcohol.

What is left of Great Blasket’s village is situated on the north east of the island. In the 1920s and 30s the young people could bear the privations of life here no longer, and they began to leave for the mainland and Further afield. Those who remained struggled on, growing a few vegetables and living their traditional life. By 1953/54 even these few people had to admit defeat. In the last few years, some of the stone cottages on the island have been  renovated, and visitors can come to explore the place and stay here for a night or two.