Apr 11, 2011

The Blasket Islands

I haven't been there. It's on my list. It's also on the cover of my book:

The Blasket Islands lie on the "edge of Europe" and were inhabited by hearty fishermen and their families who made their living lobster fishing. But it's past tense. The island no longer has inhabitants. This Time Magazine article from 1952 marked the sad event when the last occupants left for the mainland.

But when the community thrived, it was Gaelic speaking and virtually cut off from the influence of the people who lived just two miles across the sound. This microcosm of civilization attracted several scholars who traveled there and encouraged some of the people to write their life stories. One of these islanders was named Tomás Ó Criomhtháin. His tombstone reads: "There will not be those like us again". 

His story is still in print as well as some of the others. I'm going to have to add that to my wish list! Never mind. Just ordered it on my Kindle. :) I will let you know what I think!


  1. I bought several books by the Blasket natives when I was at the little museum there. I thought it was beautiful, both structurally and as a museum/memorial, but was astonished to find later that it had been opposed by the locals because it would turn the Blasket experience into
    "Dingle Disneyland." Crazy.
    The Time article doesn't really tell us the true circumstances of the evacuation. It was a hard life on the island—no electricity, no running water, a three-mile crossing to the mainland, weather permitting, followed by a five-mile walk by road for a priest, or a twelve-mile walk to reach a doctor—and in 1953 the government decided that the Island should be abandoned after the tragic death of a man who fell ill but could not be visited by a doctor for three days, due to inclement weather. According to the presentation at the museum, the natives really didn't want to come, even then. It was the only life they'd known. But they were forcibly evicted and provided homes on the mainland.
    I don't know that they land people (that is, tourists) there any more. The islands rise straight up, and it was a pretty precarious landing even for locals. You can ride around them in a boat, though -- but I was there in September and those tours had stopped by that time of year.

  2. Absolutely, Jamie. There is more to the story. I'm really enjoying the Islandman book. Terrific story and well written, even by today's standards. The Time article was contemporary--how most people viewed it, but not, of course, the islanders themselves. Thanks for sharing what you know here. Very interesting!