We recently brought you a quick rundown of some of the most beautiful islands which are dotted around Ireland’s coastline. Having looked at some of the most famous and popular ones, here’s a look at three lesser-known islands which still have all the beauty, charm and culture that Ireland has to offer.
One of the main draws of Dursey Island is the way of getting there. A cable car connects the island to the mainland, with animals and humans alike being transported over and back. Given that the island is so small – with an area of just ten kilometres squared – walking is definitely the best way to get around and see the sites of this beautiful island.
The island is separated from the mainland by a stretch of water, Dursey Sound, over which the cable car passes. Along with tourists, a vast variety of wildlife are also regular visitors to the island. Off the coast, whales, dolphins and seabirds bask in the glorious ecosystem that Dursey Island has to offer.
There are no shops, cafés or restaurants on the island, and only a few semi-permanent residents, so visitors should definitely bring a picnic to keep them going while exploring this wild paradise.
Dursey Island is also a beautiful spot off on a Beara Way hiking tour.
Rathlin Island lies off the northern coast of Ireland, off County Antrim. The tiny island, roughly the same area as Dursey Island, is home to 140 people. Spectacular scenery and beautiful wildlife can be found upon exploration of this island, with seals, birds and a vast array of plant life to be found.
Puffin season is a popular draw for people to visit the island, which begins in April and ends in July. Cycling is a great way to get around the island and gives you the opportunity to explore every nook and cranny at your own leisurely pace.
Rathlin Island can be visited by ferry from Ballycastle and is part of the Causeway Coast Way walking trail.
Bere Island, an island laying off the coast of the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, has a population of roughly 150 people. For such a small island – measuring just seventeen square kilometres in area – it has an incredibly rich and diverse history.
Artefacts and archaeological sites dating as far back as the Bronze Age can all be found there. Ring forts, graveyards and standing stones are among the ancient sites that are dotted around the tiny island.
Later, a military presence was established on the island owing to its fantastic strategic location in the mouth of Bantry Bay. Military barracks and fortification can be found there, with the defences including two rather large guns which are still there today.
All of this is pitched against a backdrop of two fantastic mountain ranges on the mainland – the Caha Mountains and Slieve Miskish.
Birdwatchers, cyclists, walkers and marine enthusiasts all share a common delight for this tiny haven in the ocean, with so much to see and do in such a small area. Whales, basking sharks and many species of dolphin can be observed off the coast, while plant lovers will find more interest among the foliage.
There is a regular ferry to Bere Island from Castletownberehaven (or Castletownbere for short!) and the island is also part of the Beara Way route.
We hope that you enjoyed this guide to The Islands of Ireland: Part II. If you’d like to visit these islands, there’s no better way than on an Ireland walking tour.