Blasket Islands – Two Weeks in Ireland

| October 21, 2012
Great Blasket Islands

The wild and rugged Great Blasket Islands

Wild and rugged, the Great Blasket Islands are located two kilometers by boat off of the coast of Dingle’s Dunmore Head. The Blasket Islands home to as many as 160 people before the Irish government insisted that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the declining population. Until 1953, the inhabitants of Great Blasket Islands formed a small fishing community comprised of primitive cottages perched on the relatively sheltered north-east shore of Ireland.

Great Blasket Island Ferry

Our ferry ride to Great Blasket Island

Exploring the Great Blasket Islands

Our Great Blasket Islands adventure began at about 10am from Dunquin on the Dingle Peninsula. We bought our ferry tickets at a small parking area just off of the main peninsula road and then made our way down to the ferry departure point via a steep winding but paved pathway. The tide was low the day we visited so the ferry operators had to escort us by dingy to the ferry boat, which was resting in deeper water. In all, the ferry boat holds about 40 people.

Great Blasket Island Ferry

Departing for Great Blasket Island

Fortunately, the relatively calm winds made for a pretty smooth 20-minute ride to the island. During our crossing, I reveled in the unspoiled views that surrounded me. I can’t over emphasize enough how you feel like you are at the edge of the earth on the west coast of Ireland. Imagine not seeing commercial buildings, hotels, restaurant signs or hordes of cars in parking lots. That is what you should expect when visiting the Dingle Peninsula. Trust me, you will love it!

Great Blasket Island Ferry

The ferry to Great Blasket Island

Be prepared to hike while you are on the Great Blasket Islands. Upon our arrival we made our way up the hill to a cluster of  abandoned structures. Standing amidst the structures, you really get a sense of what it would have been like to live here. I was captivated by the gorgeous view of the Dingle Peninsula across the water and found the tranquility and solitude of the Blasket Islands is  intoxicating. I felt like we were the first to discover this place.

Great Blasket Island

The ferry landing at Great Blasket Island

You can walk the 1100 acres of largely untouched mountainous terrain or just relax on a beautiful beach to ponder the island’s fascinating cultural and literary heritage. My primary mission was to first enjoy the experience and then search for ways to capture it with my camera. For the photo below, I experimented with a number of compositions and ultimately settled on using my zoom lens to compress the house and beach into a single and tightly composed scene. If you are a nut like me that wants to find the best compositions for your photos, be prepared to get your feet wet…not from the ocean but from the moisture-laden grass in the fields. For the photo at the top of the post, I trekked across a huge open field to get the sheep ideally positioned below the distant farm houses. Just wear waterproof hikers and you will be fine. Plus, your pictures will be better for it!

Cottage on Great Blasket Island

An abandoned cottage and beautiful beach on Great Blasket Island

From my research, I learned that the Blasket Islands have produced a remarkable number of gifted writers who brought vividly to life their harsh existence and who kept alive old Irish folk tales of the land. Best known are Machnamh Seanamhná (An Old Woman’s Reflections, Peig Sayers, 1939), Fiche Bliain Ag Fás (Twenty Years A-Growing, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, 1933), and An tOileánach (The Islandman, Tomás Ó Criomhthain, 1929).

Great Blasket Island Sheep

Speechless on Great Blasket Island

View of the Dingle Peninsula

View of the Dingle Peninsula from Great Blasket Island

After exploring and enjoying the island for a few of hours, we boarded the ferry for the mainland. Donna and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Great Blasket Island and highly recommend a visit if you want to experience a traditional Irish community and a symbol of Gaelic culture.

Next, we will visit the vibrant town of Galway and the rugged Aran Islands. Thanks as always for coming along on our travel adventures. I always appreciate the feedback you send in emails. It is nice to know someone is listening!

Great Blasket Island

The end of the perfect day on Great Blasket Island

Other posts related to this trip to Ireland


Category: Ireland, Photography, Travel

Comments (2)

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  1. ABarlow says:

    Man, what an awesome scene. Really hope one day I’ll get to go to that place. It’s tops on my list!

  2. Lee says:

    Thanks Aaron. It is an awesome place with 360 degrees of beauty!