Iniskea

Posts tagged with: 'Iniskea'

When I Met Pat Rua Reilly of Belmullet

The Late Pat Rua Reilly of Belmullet

It’s ten years now since I interviewed Pat Rua Reilly. Although he passed away in 2008, just days short of his 101st birthday, I still think of him.

Pat Rua Reilly of Belmullet

Image copyright The Mayo News, reproduced with kind permission.

Pat was born in 1907, to William and Bridget (née O’Donnell) Reilly. He was, at the time of my interview, the last living survivor of the terrible fishing tragedy of the night of October 28, 1927, which took the lives of 10 Iniskea fishermen, including two of his own brothers.

Of course, Pat was interviewed many times in his later life, becoming a living recorder of what life was like on the long since abandoned islands off the western side of the southern Mullet peninsula. Much of the interview I carried out with him at his home in Glenlara is perhaps of little value, other than sentimental to me, but I’ve transcribed here one of the more interesting passages from that day back in the year 2000.

There was something magical about Pat Rua. He had a wonderful way with words and his voice sang with lovely lilting and musical tones, even though, of course, Gaeilge was his native tongue. Despite the years passing since I interviewed him, I still regularly listen back to the tapes as I drive, impersonating the wonderful way he would utter little nuggets, like “not a bit” (in response to what difference it made to move to the mainland from the islands), “you wouldn’t know how they were” (when asked to explain an island custom) or “do you know?”, at the end of almost every sentence.

Then there was that classic island-ism of referring to the island as ‘within’ and the mainland as ‘abroad’.

I started by asking him why it was that the islanders left the Iniskeas.

BM : Why did ye decide to come out ? What was the story ?

PRR (Pat Rua Reilly) : The story was that they wanted them to go out. The priest went at it, do you know ? And he wanted them to come out. They didn’t like to leave them on the island. And another thing then, the land was going against them, do you know ? It wasn’t growing anything for them. It was burned up. What happened the land was, they never put fertiliser on the land. It was the seaweed, come to land, they used put on it, do you know ? And it burned the land. It started bad about after the drowning, after the big drowning. It started burning up. It wasn’t growing right.

BM : And what had it been growing ? Spuds ?

PRR : Oh, there were spuds and grain. Oats and barley. It was growing everything.

BM : So ye did not come out against your will ?

PRR : No, we did not. There was land vacancy out on The Mullet and it was divided between them and each family got about 4 or 5 acres, or 6.

BM : And was there any disagreement ?

PRR : No, no disagreement in the world. Everyone wanted to go. They weren’t bothered. They were all agreed to go.

BM : And they left bit by bit, one by one ?

PRR : Some of them left in 1932, as the houses were completed abroad. That’s why we had to wait on the island until 1934.

BM : And what difference did it make to ye to be on the mainland after ?

PRR : Not a bit. Not a bit.

Pat Rua Reilly was born and reared on the Iniskea Islands

Lying 4 km west of the southern Mullet peninsula, the Iniskeas North and South were re-inhabited from the late 18th to the early 20th Centuries. An earlier Bronze Age to early Christian settlement had long since disappeared.

The islands’ population grew steadily through the 19th and early 20th Centuries, even during the period of the Great Famine in the 1840s.

The second half of the 19th Century saw major land management and other changes on the islands, with the result that emigration took place and, perhaps, the hitherto tight social structure began to unravel. Outside influences multiplied and the islands were to change forever.

The night of October 28, 1927 wreaked havoc on the western seaboard, with over 40 men drowned in a fierce storm, of whom 10 were Iniskea fishermen. Within a few short years, the Iniskeas would be abandoned.

Discover more about the islands here.

I bring groups on guided visits to each of the Iniskea Islands several times each summer. Pat Rua Reilly and his family were from the South Island. Check for any upcoming trips here.

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Western Ocean Weekends in 2010

I’m delighted to announce dates for our three-day walking tours of North West Mayo in 2010.

Western Ocean Weekends will take place on these dates –

May 14 thru 16,

June 18 thru 20,

July 16 thru 18,

August 13 thru 15,

September 10 thru 12,

October 1 thru 3.

Come along and join our small groups on easy to moderate level walks in forests, bogs, low lying hills, cliff-tops and off-shore islands of Co. Mayo.

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Great Weekend in Mayo

What a weekend’s weather we’ve just had in Mayo. We had a really nice group for our walks this weekend, with everybody in the kind of good mood you’ll get with beautiful weather and surroundings.

Take a look at some pictures below. Highlights of the weekend, from a fauna point of view, were around 6 Bottle Nosed Dolphins off the west side of Iniskea South, 9 Grey Seals in ‘Seal Cove’, a Kestrel at Sheskin and, without doubt the highlight for me, 2 Otters at Sheskin also.

I was crouching down on the forest track in Sheskin, looking at the Kestrel that had landed on a nearby conifer, when I heard a “glub, glub” sound coming from the very small, shallow and narrow ditch behind me. I waited for the sound to get just past me, then stood up and saw a beautiful adult otter moving along the ditch. I was able to witness him for a good 10 metres as he pottered along minding his own business, seeing what he could catch for an early dinner. Ten minutes later, another came along in the same direction.

 

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Walking in Mayo in September

Together with Hannah at Léim Siar environmentally friendly guesthouse up on The Mullet peninsula, I will be leading one last walking tour for 2009 this coming September.

The dates are Fri, Sept 11 thru Sun Sept 13. Come and stay B&B at Hannah’s for Fri and Sat nights, with dinner both evenings and packed lunches for the three days’ walks.

Forest track, Sheskin.

Forest track, Sheskin.

Walk through the huge plantation forest at Sheskin, Ireland’s biggest townland. See and experience the vast bogland of Ireland’s West. Follow that up with a beautiful walk on cliff tops at Ceathrú Thaidhg, looking out over the Western Ocean.

 

 

 

Distant Iniskea Islands, from The Mullet.

Distant Iniskea Islands, from The Mullet.

On day two, we will go out onto Iniskea South, an uninhabited island since the 1930’s. Check out the sea life and meander around the remains of houses and other structures.

The final day brings us along sandy beaches and low lying hills, to admire the wonderful panoramic views of The Mullet peninsula and surrounding islands.

 

If you would like to join us, drop me a line on info [at] tourismpure [dot] com, or call me on 086 – 8318748. The cost is Euro 285 pps twin rooms, or Euro 315 for a single room. Cost includes all food, guiding, boat to island, etc. Be sure to bring good rain gear and waterproof hiking boots. Enjoy !

Also, check out Hannah’s Léim Siar website, at www.leimsiar.com.

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Western Ocean Weekends

I’m delighted to announce our next three-day walking events in Mayo’s magnificent North West corner.

Saturday to Monday, July 18 to 20.

Friday to Sunday, August 14 to 16.

Iniskea South Island

Iniskea South Island

Day One combines 5 hours in the huge Sheskin Forest and bog complex, with a further 2 1/2 hours on a spectacular cliff-top walk along the Atlantic Coast.

Day Two brings us out to the uninhabited Iniskea Islands, 2 km out in the Atlantic.

Day Three brings us to the gentle hilltops, beaches and sand dunes of the remote Mullet Peninsula. Beautiful views in all directions.

Accommodation is in local guesthouses on The Mullet. The weekend includes 2 x B&B, 2 x dinner, 3 x packed lunches, full guiding throughout and the boat out to the island on Day Two.

As always, do come with good hiking boots (preferably waterproof) and wet gear. This is Mayo. Most of all, come with a love of the outdoors and its inhabitants that we will observe, but not disturb.

If you would like to join our small group for this Western Ocean Walking Weekend, call us on 094 – 9027797, or e-mail info [at] tourismpurewalking [dot] com.

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Next Walking Dates for Mayo

Iniskea South island, Mayo, Ireland

Iniskea South island, Mayo, Ireland

Our three day walking event in North Mayo will next be run from Fri June 19 thru Sun June 21.

We had a really nice small group for the event last weekend and are looking forward to running another, perhaps a little drier, three days next time.

For further information, call me on 094 – 9027797, or email me on info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.

Alternatively, have a look at the entries below, “A Great Weekend in Mayo” and “Wild Mayo in May”.

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