Ireland is well known for being a tiny island with a big culture and influence. There are almost 80 million people worldwide that claim to have Irish ancestry. Ireland’s islands play host to much of this culture, with traditions being born and kept alive there.
The islands of Ireland are dotted all around the coast, each with their own unique appeal, their own difficulty of access and their own history and traditions. It’s these islands that we’re going to take a look at.
The Aran Islands are three of the most famous islands of Ireland. They are comprised of three islands which lie at the entrance to Galway Bay. They can be visited as part of our Connemara hiking tours!
Inis Oírr (or Inisheer) is the smallest of the Aran Islands. Its landscape is similar to that of the Burren, with limestone outcrops being quite common. The native language of the islanders is Irish, so it’s a real treat for the botanists and wildlife enthusiasts who visit this island.
Inis Meain is the middle-sized island of the Aran Islands. With just 200 people living here, it’s truly an untouched paradise. It mirrors the Burren in it’s floral selection, with flowers from both the Arctic and the Mediterranean growing here.
Inis Mór (meaning ‘Big Island’) is the biggest of the three Aran Islands. There is clear evidence of the history of the Islands here, with many ancient stone forts and churches. A popular pastime on the island is bike riding, with tourists renting bikes and taking a leisurely cycle around the small laneways.
Dun Aengus is one of the most famous attractions on the Aran Islands – a stone fort which has a sheer cliff drop on one side. This was used as protection for its inhabitants, as well as a six-foot stone wall surrounding them.
While the Skellig Islands were already well-known for their mystery and dramatic scenery, they have really been put on the map in recent years as a filming location for Star Wars.
Skellig Michael was once home to monks who built and lived in small beehive huts. The sixth-century monastery is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Skelligs are home to several protected bird species, including kittiwakes, puffins and guillemots.
The Skellig Islands can be found off the coast of Dingle in southwest Ireland. Visiting access is very restricted so you must book your boat ticket far in advance!
The Blasket Islands, also off the coast of Dingle, are some islands of Ireland where old traditions were born.
The islands were inhabited until 1953, boasting a completely Irish-speaking community. Unfortunately the islands were abandoned in 1953 and the residents evacuated by the government due to harsh living conditions and declining population. Just 22 people still lived on the islands.
The Blasket Centre in Dunquin celebrates the history of the island, and visitors can still take day trips to experience the wild and peaceful nature of the islands. The remnants of an old community is still evident here and truly takes you back in time to an old Ireland.