The weather was against us today. We were planning to take a boat out to Great Blasket Island, off the coast from the most westerly part of Ireland.
Gale force winds and dangerous seas made the trip impossible. That was a pity, because the now deserted island sounds fascinating.
Battered by winds and rain, we’d hiked to the western end of the lovely Dingle Peninsula, itself a bastion of Irish culture, music and language.
The weather cleared briefly at the end of the day, and we could drink coffee and hot chocolate and look our across the landscape featured in the film Ryan’s Daughter.
For centuries a few families had eked out a living farming and fishing the treacherous waters around Great Blasket Island. But in 1953, when the population fell to 21 souls the government decided it was no longer feasible to provide services there, and evacuated the residents, resettling on the mainland those who hadn’t already left for the greener pastures of Springfield, Massachusetts.
As a consolation prize, our guide John took us to visit the smart new Blascaoid Centre, where the life and achievements of the islanders are remembered.
We were impressed by the museum, and particularly by the art featured there. Ireland may not be noted for its visual art, but we liked a lot of what we saw today.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Great Blasket life was the number of significant writers it turned up, given that nobody received any education past grade six, and many islanders were illiterate in Irish.
Peig Sayers, Tomas O’Criomhthain and Muiris O’Suilleabhain were not names we knew, but we bought Muiris’s book Twenty Years A’Growing and will give it a go.
The writer was the guest of South West Walks and Utracks.