Great Blasket Island

Dunquin Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 15 › view all entries
Photogenic Dunquin pier

Well, today we woke up to some nasty, icky-poo weather (in Andy's words); today was also the day for our adventure to the Great Blasket Island. Before we had ventured over to Ireland, we had decided this side-trip was something we really wanted to experience, so despite the unfavorable weather, we took a ferry over to the Great Blasket Island. We had hoped to spend the whole day there, having a picnic, swimming, etc., but obviously due to the rainy and windy conditions, we decided we'd rather add clothing rather than take more clothing no swimming!

Andy and I had quite an adventure trying to find the Dunquin pier (which incidentally is the Z-shaped road you see with tons of sheep climbing up on all the postcards.

The remains of the village
..poor sheep; I believe that sheep situation was created specifically for the postcard...anyway...). We started off that morning from our B and B, which was supposedly only five minutes from the pier. We walked and walked and walked...We eventually went into the Blasket Islands Museum and Visitor Center to ask if we were heading in the right direction. The receptionist said we had missed it and must continue on. She gave us directions to head to the pier and assured us that we'd find it. We headed in her direction, and we realized she was having us retrace our steps... She had given us driving directions, and we were on foot! Oops!!! About an hour later we found the pier!!! Actually, a sheep dog led us there - he later got on one of the boats leaving the dock - we thought he was purposefully trying to help us when really he just wanted to find his owners:)

So, we walked down the pier and headed onto the boat.

Some of the donkeys - check out the baby ~ the king of the island!!
It was quite a rocky ride, but we got awesome views of the Sleeping Giant island as well as the other Blasket Islands. Soon, we realized we'd have to get off of our big ferry to get into inflatable rafters... Goodness gracious; for those of us scared of sharks and dying at sea, this was a bit scary:) Actually, Andy and I headed into a boat with a middle-aged group of women who made things much less scary...they kept joking about how we should all take one last picture on all of our cameras!  They were quite silly, having so much fun together... I hope I'm that spunky in ten years!

We all managed to safely arrive onto the island. The island is completely deserted and has been since the residents all evacuated in the 1950s sometime. Because of resources being used up (such as peat for heat) and the fact that education was taking place on the mainland combined with the shrinking number of residents, everyone left.

Fuschia plants from the streets of Dunquin; they're EVERYWHERE in Ireland!
Now, what remains on the island are the buildings of the old, abandoned village. Apparently you can now camp on the island; we saw a number of tents. That must be a real experience... Andy and I have decided that on the next journey to Ireland, we'll be doing that.

Also, to our surprise, there were many sheep and donkeys on the island! I wonder who takes care of them, when they got here, etc., etc. Plus, there were many sheep corpses and skeletons on the island, which makes me curious as to how they all have died! Anyway, back to my story... the real comedy of the island occcured before our eyes. The baby donkey decided that he was, in fact, the king of the island! He began bucking and running towards all of the sheep...seemingly just for the pleasure of it! The sheep all scattered every which way, and then the baby donkey would find a new group to terrorize! The even sillier part was that the adult donkeys all followed the baby donkey! It's impossible to describe the humor of the situation with words. Just a word of advice: if you ever go to Blasket Island, wait and watch for the baby donkey!

We wandered around the island, went down to the beach for a while, and then wandered some more. We really wished it was a better day, but we realize that we are in Ireland, so the chances of a rain-free trip to Blasket Island are not always in the cards. We did get some spectacular views of the Sleeping Giant Island, and we also watched gleefully as the harbor seals splashed about in the water. All in all, a fun day!

When we returned to the mainland, we went to the Blasket Islands Visitor Center. This musuem explained so much and was as worthwhile as going to the island. There is a short video presentation in which residents were interviewed about their experiences living on the island. There are also panels with background information on all of the literary artists that came from the island.

Of course, after this we headed back to Krueger's! Once again, we had a great night there. Our friendly bartender from the night before remembered us and asked us about our trip to Blasket Island. He asked Andy if he had proposed on the island to which we both answered that happened six years ago. He responded with, "Holy fuck man! How old are ye?" I told him that I was about to turn thirty and was freaking about it! He turned thirty recently and assured me that my life is not over - there was no need to jump off of any boats or cliffs or anything crazy like that. We were a bit disappointed because our friendly bartender did NOT make our sandwiches this time; another bartender did, and they were NOT as good. How tragic, huh? Nonetheless, we really liked this bar and were sad to leave at the end of the night.

If you're walking the Dingle Way, I'd actually recommend more than one night in Dunquin for sure. It is a small town with no real city center, but Blasket Island, the museum, and the pub are all fun. Plus, Slea Head and Ventry Beach are just a stone's throw away. We spent two nights in Dunquin and had actually wished we had spent three as to allow time to enjoy the beach. With that in mind, Andy and I like to travel slowly, taking things it all depends on your personality!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Photogenic Dunquin pier
Photogenic Dunquin pier
The remains of the village
The remains of the village
Some of the donkeys - check out th…
Some of the donkeys - check out t…
Fuschia plants from the streets of…
Fuschia plants from the streets o…
photo by: darcylapp