While Ireland may seem like a pretty small island to many of you in the US and Canada (it’s not a whole lot bigger than Vancouver Island after all!!!) it has lots of even smaller (ok relatively tiny) islands around it’s coast. If at all possible and weather permitting I would highly recommend a trip to at least one island on your Ireland Vacation. To that end I thought I would give you some ideas on a few island(s) you may like to include in your Ireland Itinerary.
The Aran Islands – by far the most well known islands in Ireland, these 3 islands lie off the coast of Co. Galway but can also be reached from Co. Clare. Inish Mor is the largest and most popular island due to the amazing Dun Anghus Fort located there. Inish Oir and Inish Maan are also worth a visit and will give you a better idea of island life minus a lot of the tourists. For information on how to get there visit www.aranislandferries.com or www.doolinferries.com
Garnish Island – this oasis in Co Cork can be reached via ferry from the pretty village of Glengarriff. The beautiful gardens on Garnish Island are world renowned and you also have the opportunity to visit a seal colony en route to Garnish Island. Ferries depart for Garnish Island every 30 minutes – visit www.bluepoolferry.com
Tory Island lies 12kms off North Donegal and is the most remote inhabited island in Ireland. The Irish language is still spoken here as it is on most of the islands off the coast of Ireland. While on Tory Island you can explore the archeological sites and learn about the Christian Heritage of St Colm Cille and his monks. Or just soak up the atmosphere listening to the lonesome call of the corncrake. For details of the ferry to Tory Island visit www.toryislandferry.com
The Skellig Islands are a popular tourist attraction in Co. Kerry. The Skellig Experience is a visitors center located on nearby Valentia Island which can be reached by a land bridge. However to truly experience the Skellig Islands a boat trip to Skellig Michael is a must. Here you can climb over 500 steps to visit the ancient Monastic Site and see old beehive huts where monks lived and prayed as well as the Church of St Michael. For more information and details of how to get there visit www.skelligislands.com
I’m going to finish with Clare Island off the coast of Co. Mayo. Clare Island was home to the legendary pirate queen, Grace O’Malley and you can still see her Castle there today. This island is a mecca for bird watchers and there is some wonderful hill walking also. To get there visit www.clareislandferry.com
Meanwhile I’m going to leave you with the Saw Doctors Clare Island which sums up everything a trip to an Irish island has to offer in one great romantic Irish Ballad!