Hi Everyone. I hope I find you all well. So Tuesday was a big day for Irish film with an astonishing 14 Oscar nominations for Irish movies! So exciting to see the beautiful An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) nominated in the Best International Feature Film category and there’s no less than 5 Irish actors competing for awards with Colin Farrell and Paul Mescal going head to head in the best actor category. Farrell’s nomination is one of nine for the wonderful The Banshees of Inisherin, breaking the previous record for the number of nominations for an Irish film. As well as the nine nods from the Academy, the movie picked up 3 Golden Globes earlier this month and has been nominated for ten Baftas.
Surely destined to become an Irish classic, The Banshees of Inisherin is set on a fictional island off Ireland’s west coast. The actual locations used were Achill Island and the largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore, two of Irelands most breathtakingly beautiful places. Find out more about both of these beautiful Irish islands in my list of favorites below. Ireland is the third largest island in Europe and we are surrounded by approximately 80 coastal islands. Around 20 of these islands are inhabited. Time to buckle up and get on the road!
Lulu’s Top Irish Islands
1. Tory Island
Our first stop is Tory Island situated 14km off the coast of Donegal. Tory Island is the most remote inhabited island of Ireland. Only 3 miles long and half a mile wide, Tory has always been a place apart. Tory islanders have survived battles to rehouse them, regular forty-foot waves, gales and frozen temperatures. The islanders refer to Ireland as “the country”. They also speak their own dialect of the native Irish language, Gaeilge. Tory’s stubborn isolation and the passion of its people have kept traditions and beliefs alive here that have long vanished elsewhere.
In keeping with a tradition that reaches into Ireland’s Brehon past, Tory islanders elect a king to govern them. The island is currently ruled by King, or Rí, Patsy Dan Rodgers – Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhrí. The king has no formal powers but acts as a spokesperson and welcomes visitors to the island.
2. Inishmurray Island
We’re heading south now to probably my favourite of the Irish islands. This is because it’s just off the coast of my favourite county-Sligo! The last human inhabitants left in 1948 but the wildlife population is thriving especially the many species of birds. While you can still see the remains of the islander’s village, there are also ruins of a 6th-century monastic settlement. This includes 2 churches, a holy well and a beautifully preserved beehive cell. The feeling of utter peace and tranquillity here is truly hard to beat.
3. Achill Island
Heading south again into neighbouring county Mayo. Achill Island is Ireland’s largest island with a population of 2700. The island is connected from the mainland at Westport by a road bridge. You can’t help but marvel at the towering sea-cliffs, gorgeous beaches and awesome mountains. The air is clean while the welcome is warm and you can really get away from it all in this special place.
4. The Aran Islands
Next stop, Galway and probably the most famous of all the Irish islands. The magnificent Aran Islands mark Ireland’s most westerly point. Inishmore, the largest of the islands boasts over 50 ancient monuments of rich Celtic heritage. Inishmann, the least visited of the islands gives a true feeling of getting away from the modern world and was a favourite retreat of Irish writer J.M.Synge. Inisheer, the smallest of the islands, has an irresistible charm and offers astounding views of the Cliffs of Moher. And let’s not forget that these stunning Islands are the home of one of Ireland’s most famous exports, the Aran sweater!
5. The Skelligs
No visit to the Ring of Kerry would be complete without a trip to see the Skelligs. The smallest of the islands is not accessible to the public but a boat ride to the magnificent Skellig Michael should be on everyone’s bucket list. Here, you really feel like you’re on the edge of the world. The ancient monastic settlement is incredibly preserved. No humans have lived here since the monks left in 1100 who even escaped the ravages of the Vikings. Maybe someone was looking down on them! Now the birds have taken over, especially the puffins in Spring. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Skellig Michael achieved recent worldwide fame when it was chosen as a location for the Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.
6. Dursey Island
So our journey comes to an end in County Cork. Dursey Island is situated off the south-west tip of the Beara Peninsula and measures 6.5 km x 1.5 km. It is also where you ‘ll find Ireland’s only cable car! This takes people and animals to and from the mainland to this most stunning of Irish islands. At the right time of year, you can even see basking sharks here!
Time to sign off now. Thanks so much for joining me on our island-hopping trip and the best of luck to all the Irish Oscar nominees!
Take care of yourselves and each other.
Slán go fóill!