The sorrowful song of grey seals carries over the waves as you approach the island, the colony dominating the white sands of An Trá Bán. Beyond the shoreline, minke whales and basking sharks navigate the waves, occasionally joined by humpback whales and orcas as they head for deep water. The Great Blasket is a haven for wildlife. Manx shearwaters burrow into grassy ridges, evidence of a long-abandoned field system. Black-backed gulls perch on the ruins of old cottages while gannets, fulmars, guillemots, shags and skuas, among others, patrol the waves. Ravens circle high on the hills at An Dún, their caws piercing the din of the waves 1000-feet below. Peregrine falcons stay closer to the ocean’s surface as they occupy caves, once hiding places for folk heroes.
The Great Blasket Island is accessed by boat from Dunquin, Dingle or Ventry between April and October. Sailing is weather dependent. There is no pier on the island, and visitors must transship into a dinghy upon arrival. There are limited facilities available on the Great Blasket, so be sure to use toilet facilities at your point of departure and bring a packed lunch. The island terrain is steep and uneven, and appropriate footwear is essential. Be prepared for all weather – there is no shelter on the island, so rain jackets, sunscreen, hats and a change of socks are all advised!
Just across the waves on the mainland, the Blasket Centre in Dunquin provides remarkable insight into the story of the Great Blasket, from its literary heritage to its flora and fauna.
If you can’t make it to the island, catch up on our Tuatha Talk ‘Blasket Bound: The Story of the Great Blasket Island’ with Lesley Kehoe, who lived and worked on the island in 2019 and whose research focuses on the intangible heritage of the island.