We would like to thank Belmullet Boat Tours for giving us their top 10 things to do on the Inishkea Islands and providing us with an insight into some of the rich history.
Belmullet Boat Charters has been run by the Lavelle family for over 20 years. They specialise in trips to the Inishkea Islands, being direct descendants of the last islanders to live on Inishkea North.
Inishkea Island History:
The Inishkea Islands, or Inis Cé in Irish, are located 3km off the Belmullet peninsula coast. The Islands are believed to be named after a saint that lived on the island in the 5th century called Saint Kea. There are two main islands, Inishkea North and Inishkea South with Inishkea North being the largest island of the two at 350 acres. Rich in history and surrounded by crystal clear waters, breathtaking views and white sandy beaches, every corner of the Inishkea Islands are just waiting to be discovered.
In the late 1800s there were over 120 people living on Inishkea North and 180 people living on Inishkea South. The islanders began to move off the island in the 1930s after a tragic fishing event in 1927. Three people are known to be living on Inishkea North and two people are known to be living on Inishkea South, although it increases to around fifteen during the summer months of May to September.
The islands are home to many significant historical sites including beehive huts, a royal purple dye station, whaling station and many unique stone monuments including the crucifixion stone slab located in one of the many early – christian monasteries on the island.
Top 10 things to do on the Inishkea Islands
1 -Take a guided tour of Inishkea with an island descendant
To bring the island to life. Visit the school, whaling station, dye station, kings house, beehive huts, cilin, 5th century stone slabs, various monastic sites and learn about the fascinating focloir stories of the Naomhog, St. Colmcille, Francoise Henry, St. Kea, the Children of Lir, the dye workshop in Inishkea North and so much more!
2 – Take a dip in Inishkea’s crystal clear & sheltered waters
Perfect for dozens of watersports, including swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, stand-up-paddling (SUP), coasteering, fishing and pier jumping – to name just a few!
3 -Take a walk up to the Bailey Mór
One of the three man-made mounds on Inishkea North. It is home to one of the island’s two, early christian monasteries. Spot the many beehive huts located in the area and take a look at the highly decorated stone slabs from the 5th century, including the stone slab showing the ‘crucifixion scene’.
4 – Explore the villages of Inishkea South and Inishkea North
Travel back in time as you glance at all the beautiful stone cottages built in the late 1800s. Look out for the king’s house, the old two – storey shop, shebeen and school.
5 – Take a trek up the Alt Mór
Alt Mór is where one of the two navigation towers on Inishkea South are located. Built in the late 1800s these structures provide an important navigation purpose for boats travelling in the channel known as Leim Mor. Enjoy the stunning views of the Inishkea islands and the islands surrounding it at the top of the Alt Mór.
6 – Island Treasure Hunt
Team up with family or friends and compete against others to solve the challenges and riddles you’re given. Track down all the clues hidden across the island to find your treasure! This is a great way to keep kids busy and entertained during their trip to Inishkea.
7 – Check out the Bailey Dóite
Bailey Dóite (meaning burnt mound) is located beside the Bailey Mór. The mound is home to the royal purple dye station that was run by monks on Inishkea North. The dye station was in operation from the 4th century up until the end of the 6th century.
8 – Enjoy the amazing view of the Sea Cliffs at the west of Inishkea South
Some of the most spectacular in Ireland, hosting extraordinary views and a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. These Sea Cliffs are a must visit when exploring the island and are also the site of where poitin was once distilled on the island.
9 – Visit St. Colmcille’s Church on Inishkea North
St. Colmcille is one of Ireland’s three patron saints. The other two are St. Brigid and of course, St. Patrick. Colmcille came to Inishkea North and founded the church there in the 8th century. The church was also the original location of where the Naomhóg or Godstone in english was kept. You can also see the altar, aumbry and various holy stones inside the church building.
10 – Explore Rusheen Island
Home to the whaling station on Inishkea. The island is located just off Inishkea South and can be accessed at low tide. You can still see the old cylindrical oil boilers, where the workers of the whaling station once would have boiled the blubber of whales to make oil.
Belmullet Boat Tours operate a ferry service to the Inishkea Islands between May and October, for more information visit their website: belmulletboatcharters.wordpress.com