Inniskea Was Once Full of Human Life

Aboard the charter boat to the abandoned island of Inniskea, where only a lone birdwatcher can be found.
Aboard the charter boat’s dingy to the abandoned island of Inniskea, where only a lone birdwatcher can be found.

Traveling along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, we’ve been treated to ocean vistas, towering reddish cliffs, and wide open stretches of land bordered by crude stone fences places there hundreds of years ago.

We piled aboard a charter fishing boat for a visit to an island that up until 1927, had about 30 residents, making a living fishing and raising sheep.  The residents of Inniskea, all moved away after an October disaster when 10 of the 30 residents died in a rowboat making their way to shore. With so many of their people dead, no one wanted to carry on–so today only birdwatchers and visitors like us walk around the desolate island and view the carcasses of the stone houses that once had

With so many of their people dead, no one wanted to carry on–so today only birdwatchers and visitors like us walk around the desolate island and view the carcasses of the stone houses that once had life.

The village was abandoned after 1/3 of the residents died in a boat accident offshore.
The village was abandoned after 1/3 of the residents died in a boat accident offshore.
It's a desolate beauty on Inniskea, strolling the island the views of the sea are all around.
It’s a desolate beauty on Inniskea, strolling the island the views of the sea are all around.

A family of donkeys can be found here, and a man sat inside one of the few surviving houses with a telescope, watching for geese who migrate through the island.  You wouldn’t think a deserted island would be so fascinating, but we all got a kick out of wandering past the remains of stone fences and peeking into the houses with the roofs caved in. A few had remnants of beds and a discernable fireplace, one with a lonely frying pan hanging from a wall.

The charter captain pointed out the rock in the distance with the lighthouse on it, this is where earlier this year four local heroes died in a helicopter accident. Their red rescue chopper Number R116, was a familiar sight here, and local fishermen helped find the scattered remains of the men and women who died, causing much sadness among the small community.

Read more about the west of Ireland.

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