Monday, July 20, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 44: Blasket Islands and the Great Evacuation

Rob and Tom on the Dingle Peninsula
In this blog, we continue on our journey through Ireland's Dingle Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean. Today's blog takes you
to the Blasket Islands and the Great Evacuation.

THE BLASKET ISLANDS AND SLEEPING GIANT - The Blasket Islands are a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland, forming part of County Kerry. The main island was called "The Great Blasket" and resembles a man sleeping on his back - that the locals refer to as "The Sleeping Giant."  The islands were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Irish-speaking population, and today are part of the Gaeltacht. The word "Blasket" means "dangerous."

"The Sleeping Giant" - the island looks like a man on his back

HOW FAR BACK WERE THERE RESIDENTS? From the end of the 13th Century the Ferriter family leased the Islands from the Earls of Desmond, and from Sir Richard Boyle at the end of the 16th Century. They retained a castle there, at Rinn an ChaisleĆ”in (Castle Point) in the lower village. However, when you look today, you will not find any castle ruins there, because the stones were all used to build other homes, including a school on the island  in 1840. The same school was closed down in 1852 after the ravages of the Great Famine.

Remains of a home on the peninsula
DID MANY PEOPLE LIVE THERE?  The number of residents on the Great Blasket Island continually changed.  There was a population of about 150 living there in 1840, but after the Great Famine that had decreased to 100. The population is said to have reached its peak in 1916, at 176. From then on it was in decline until 1953/54 when the Blasket was abandoned.
What a house on Blasket island looked like inside

A drawing of a blasket island home

Picturesque view of the peninsula
According to "The big change came with the early 1930s. The Island community began to decline and the young people were loath to marry. Only two couples married there between then and the time of its abandonment, with most making off for America where so many of their kin had preceded them. In some cases entire households left in the 1940s and settled on the mainland. Their courage had deserted them a long time before the year of the great exodus in 1953; they felt the boat sinking under them."

 WAY OF LIFE- Basically the inhabitants of the island were fishermen. Some were farmers of potatoes, oats and rye, and boats actually tied sheep's and donkey's feet together so they could transport them from the mainland to the island!

 To learn more of the history of the Dingle Peninsula, visit:

There is an entire visitor's center at the western point of the Dingle Peninsula that has a museum dedicated to the former inhabitants of Great Blasket Island.


Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next