Tag Archives: Clare Island

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #215

For this week’s Len-artist challenge John asks for “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles… and the Places they take us” – but I have veered off topic a little to talk about places boats have taken me. In recent years, we have had a few interesting trips on boats – or at least the boats got us to our destination. The first trip was to Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland. A small ferry takes about 20 minutes to cross from mainland to the island.

Early morning ferry to Clare island

The island is lovely. We visited in January – but the day was glorious and clear and the light beautiful.

Then home again on the ferry at sunset.

Our next island visit was to Inishbiggle. Also off the west coast, but a much smaller island – talking only about ten minutes in a small boat similar to the small boat in the picture below.

Here crossing over from the mainland.

The island is lovely, exceptionally quiet (there are not many families living on it now) and the only shame was all the abandoned cars (and tractors) that it is too expensive to remove and so are left to rust away.

Clare Island

Visiting Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland has been on my bucket list for a couple of years. We recently had the opportunity to visit the Island and even though it is January we decided to go. We were not disappointed.

Clare Island, is approximately 7km long and 4km wide, and lies 5km of the west coastal of Ireland.  The highest point Knockmore (“An Cnoc Mór” in Irish, meaning great hill) is 462m. Today, there is a population of about 160 though many of the houses on the island are holiday homes.

We took the ferry from Roonagh pier, just outside Louisburg, on a cold but bright morning. The sea was choppy and hopping from the pier steps into the ferry had to be timed with the swell. Once all the passengers were safety on-board, the crew hoisted a trailer full of hay with the aid of a small crane. This was quickly followed by an ancient jeep.

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Clare Island

In less than half an hour, we found ourselves alongside the Clare Island pier. We took the road heading west from the harbour, and part of the Clare Island loop walk. Looking inland the land rose to Knocknaveen. Out at sea, we could see the smaller island of Inishturk.

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The mainland from Clare Island

At this time of year, many of the facilities are closed but thanks to the hospitality of a local family we enjoyed some tea and hot chocolate,  and also learned a little of Island life. There is only a primary school on the island so once children reach their teenager years they leave for secondary school on the Monday morning ferry, returning to the island on Friday evening.

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12th Century Abbey

We continued our walk, pausing for lunch, at the island abbey, unfortunately also closed for repair. There was then a steep climb along the road as we headed inland, but we had an extra treat of seeing an Irish hare! The land is grazed mostly by steep, with a few cattle, donkeys and ponies.

After crossing the interior of the island, we headed south-east back toward the harbour. Close to the pier stands a Tower House once owned by Grace O’Malley the famous pirate queen (whom I have written about previously).

We left the island on the 16.15 ferry back to the mainland.  We were further blessed with a magnificent sunset over Inishturk and the sighting of three bottle-nosed dolphins (too far off to get a decent photo). I can safely say that we were all take by the beauty of the island and the hospitality of it’s inhabitants. And we hope to make a return journey later in the year.

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Sunset over Inisturk from the Clare Island Ferr