Great Blasket Island – Photographs, Comments, Stories (Part 1)

This is a view of Great Blasket Island from the mainland.

Last week I spent a couple of nights on Great Blasket Island, which is the largest of a group known as The Blasket Islands, off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry, South West Ireland. I have previously enjoyed a lot of time on this island, and have taken hundreds of photos and painted several pictures of views form here, but new experiences and images are presented on every visit. The island is uninhabited, except for one or two people who may stay here during the summer sometimes, and occasional campers. There is a village, now in ruins, that was vacated in 1953. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful island.

Having completed the strenuous task of hauling supplies up the very steep hill to the tiny, primitive cottage where I was to stay (the island is basically a mountain rising up from the sea), I fell asleep in a state of exhaustion on a chair facing the open door. Later I awoke, with great surprise, to see this lovely apparition:

www.belespoir.com

A sailing ship unexpectedly dropped anchor right in front of my door

Well actually, it wasn’t an apparition, but a real sailing ship, a French visitor, who had just dropped anchor here to spend the night. See http://www.belespoir.com What better place! No pubs, no night life for the young crew, but they sure did enjoy themselves leaping, into the sea and swimming to and from the shore. Many also came ashore in their dinghy and savoured the many delights and mysteries of the island and its magical beach. I’ll bet it ranks high on their list of favourite overnight stops.

I thought of the previous inhabitants of the island, and how many of them would have sailed to Boston, to settle in Springfield MA in a very similar ship. But they wouldn’t have had the luxury of boarding the ship so close to home. The emigration of young people from this island left its once thriving and vibrant community of writers, storytellers, musicians and fishermen very sparse, until the hardships of managing with inadequate services and fewer young strong people eventually forced the last few to leave in 1953.

Image The ship, Bel Espoir, as she settled for the evening at Great Blasket Island

The ship dropped its sails to rest for the remainder of the day and night. The small island of Beginish is seen here between Great Blasket and the mainland. The ruins of the village homes remain a poignant reminder of the island’s history.

Image View from the cottage door of my temporary residence on Great Blasket Island

This photo was taken a little while after Bel Espoir dropped anchor. This is the view from the door of the cottage in which I stayed.

Image Great Blasket Island with the tall ship Bel Espoir

The crew of Bel Espoir enjoyed one of the most beautiful places it could visit. This photo shows the lovely island beach, An Trá Bán.

Image The light of a warm sunny evening on Bel Espoir, at Great Blasket Island

The warm light of the evening sun falls on Bel Espoir

Image The ship, Bel Espoir sets sail after its overnight stay

Au revoir, Bel Espoir.

For more information about the island and to see several photos and paintings please see my website: http://helene-brennan.com/c53-blasket-islands-photographs and http://helene-brennan.com/c62-blasket-islands-paintings

More to follow about the island……..

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