Croaghmore on Great Blasket, Ireland

Name of walk Croaghmore on Great Blasket, Ireland
Date of walk 2011-07-10

After an Irish Breakfast at the B&B we headed along the Dingle coast line to Dunquin and the small ferry boat over to Great Blasket, to climb Croaghmore on the largest of the Blasket Islands. Great Blasket was once inhabited by a Gaelic-speaking population, but life on the island was very hard and the last people were evacuated in 1953. Their houses, in various states of disrepair still remain.

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The small steep harbour at Dunquin, looking over to Great Blasket.

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Dunquin harbour

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The ferry only runs on calm sea days, luckily today was one of them. It was dull and overcast, but not a breath of wind. Approaching the island.

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The small ferry boat is too big to put people ashore so we had to go by RIB. There was only one other person and us so we would have the island to ourselves until the next ferry arrives. Brendan....or Blasket Princess, a his life jacket names him!

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The RIB goes back to the ferry.

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Lots of Grey Seals watching our every move.

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The Blasket Islands were once home to a thriving community. Although there is evidence of prehistoric dwellings in the exposed western parts of the island, the historical village was built on the side of the island facing the mainland. The little houses huddle against the hillside for shelter, with their gable walls facing the sea. All supplies had to be carried by boat, and in the days when the only means of transport was a canvas covered curragh or naomhóg, the islanders were sometimes marooned for weeks at a time, especially in the stormy winter months. The final push for evacuation was when the turf supply (only source of fuel) was running low.

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Storage facility.

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Slea Head on the left.

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As a Gaelic-speaking community away from the influence of the rest of the country, the islands gained a reputation for refinement of language that attracted scholars to their shores in the summer months. In the early years of the 20th century some of these visitors persuaded the islanders to write their autobiographies as a record of Island life. They became very popular, especially when translated into english. We even have two on our bookshelves. The Islandman by Tomas O Crohan, published in 1929, and Twenty Years A-Growing by Maurice O'Sullivan, first published in 1933. I bought An Old Woman`s Reflections by Peig Sayers in Kenmare to add to the collection.

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We headed off to tour the whole of the island. The islands of Inishvickillaun and Inishnabro on the left. We were headed for Croaghmore, the pointy bit ahead, the highest mountain on Great Blasket.

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Looking back to the mainland. Mount Brandon is in loads of cloud.

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"The Cro" summit ahead. Tearaght Island right.

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Tom on the summit, Brendan in the distance.

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Looking at the end of Great Blasket. We sat and had lunch here. Tom looked at rabbits with the binoculars. There are no shops or toilets on Great Blasket, so you have to come prepared. Camping is allowed, and we did consider it....maybe next time! Inishvicillaun on the left was bought by former Irish Prime Minister, Charles Haughey. His family still own it.

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The weather was beginning to improve. Tom and Brendan were going to follow the path that goes around this side of the island back to the village, I wanted to go over the top (shown far right) and visit the tower.

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View from The Tower.

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Looking out at The Three Sisters.

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The ferry boat heading back to the mainland.

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Looking down on the beach, Beginish Island on the right.

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Some of the donkeys that live wild.

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I meet up with Tom and Brendan back at the village, we make for the beach.

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A bit of blue sky and a change of lighting transforms a photo in Ireland to look like a Greek Island!

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Still being watched! The seals are just a few feet off shore. The boatman said that they sunbathe on the beach, so we have taken their spot!

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Very Robinson Crusoe!

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After five hours of exploration we head back to the pier and catch the ferry back to Dunquin.

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Heading for the mainland.

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This time we had to depart by RIB too!

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Looking across to a cave from the route back up from the pier.

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It is steep!

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We drive north for some excellent views. Mount Brandon (out of shot to the right) is still in cloud, so it would not have mattered which day we climbed it we would still have had no view.

Great Blasket is an excellent day out!
Jo
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