Mayo’s offshore gem with an ancient way of life

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Inishturk, meaning Island of the Wild Boar, soars from the North Atlantic 14.5km off the west coast of Mayo. It is a wild, windswept patch of lush greenness with sheer wall-like cliffs and steep hills.

By choosing to spend time here you are helping to sustain a culture that has survived for 4,000 years and whose future is somewhat uncertain.

As a visitor you will be greeted at the pier by the islanders and if you spend the night the locals will head down to the community centre bar to keep you company and to find out about events in the outside world.

The island measures 5km by 2.5km and includes two great walking trails where you can see colourful seabirds such as fulmars, guillemots, razorbills and puffins. There are also some interesting archaeological sites, an endearingly patchy football pitch rolled out on the only flat bit of land, and a new art installation in the Spirit of Place series.

The islanders will bring you out angling or to catch lobster and crab. But, the real treat is getting to know the islanders themselves. They are remarkable people, with a way of life that is precious and which we all hold some responsibility to ensure it survives. Adventure sports devotees are well-served with kayaking trails and some great scuba-diving.

August is the busiest time to visit, with a boating regatta, an annual sports day and the ancient pilgrimage to nearby Caher Island (in Irish: ‘Cathair na Naomh’ or ‘Rock of the Saint’). Many Inishturk natives return to the island every 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption to make the pilgrimage to this uninhabited rock. Caher Island has no proper landing point and is home to the ruins of several 7th century hermitages.

In terms of accommodation, there are a number of guest houses on Irishturk where dinner will be provided if desired, while the Caher View Bistro in the Community Centre serves freshly-caught lobster and home-grown vegetables, as well as more child-friendly fodder.

Getting to Inishturk

Inishturk is located 14.5km off the coast of Mayo, between the islands of Inishbofin and Clare Island.

Ferry

To get to the island you must take a ferry. In summer, there are a number of ferry sailings from Roonagh Pier (near Louisburgh) to Clare Island. The boat crossing takes about 50 minutes. In the winter, there are usually only two boats a day (morning and evening). There are two ferry providers, so check their timetables as crossing times vary depending on weather.

 

  • Clare Island Ferry Company – (O’Grady’s)

        For a timetable log onto www.clareislandferry.com

        For queries contact:                       

        +353 (98) 23737

        +353 (86) 8515003

        +353 (87) 9004115

 

  • O’Malley’s Ferries (Clare Island) Ltd

        For a timetable log onto www.omalleyferries.com

        For queries contact:                       

        +353 (98) 25045

        +353 (86) 6000204

 

By Car

  • From Westport

Take the coast road to Louisburgh (16km), drive straight through Louisburgh and about a 500 metres after the village, take a right turn to Roonagh (the road is clearly signposted for Roonagh Pier and Clare Island.) It is a further 6km to the pier.

 

  • From Galway

From Galway an alternative (and more scenic) route – allow two hours – is to take the Clifden road to Maam Cross, where you turn right towards Leenane. From Leenane (and anywhere in Connemara) take the Westport road, and about 3km out of Leenare, take the first left turn towards Louisburgh. The beautiful drive will take you along the shores of Killary harbour, up the Delphi valley and the Doolough pass. Turn right at the crossroad when you arrive at Louisburgh (away from the village, signposted Roonagh Quay), and about 500 metres after the cross road, just after the Nomadic Display factory, take a right turn to Roonagh (the road is clearly signposted for Roonagh Pier and Clare Island). It is a further 6km to the pier.

By Taxi

Please use these links for taxis operating out of

By Bus

Public buses run to both Westport and Louisburgh. For timetables please consult www.buseireann.ie. You will then need to get a taxi or walk the remaining 6km from Louisburgh to Roonagh Pier.

During the summer Clare Island Ferry operates a direct bus service from Westport to Roonagh Pier. Click on www.clareislandferry.com for information. You must ring Brian on (086) 8515003 the evening before to book a seat on the bus, which only operates if it is needed.

By Train

The nearest train station in Westport. For timetables please click on www.irishrail.ie. From Westport, take a taxi or bus for the 22km to Roonagh Quay.

 

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