The Islands of Ireland

photo of Skellig by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Sceilig Mhichíl – beyond the waves of St. Finian’s Bay

It seems that in Ireland, every second day is good. We have storms one day and beautiful wintery sunshine the next. Then storms again.

Maybe that’s just on the East coast – it rains more on the West coast – and they certainly bear the brunt of the Atlantic storms over there. But they have their compensations.

The islands – the rocky, windswept Aran Islands, the majestic Achill Island, the remote and craggy stronghold of Tory, the birdwatchers’ outpost of Cape Clear, the artists’ retreat of Inishlacken, the ethereal Sceilig Mhichíl… na Blascaoidí, Árainn Mhór, Inis Tuirc, Inis Treabhair, Oileán Mhic Dara, ó nár dheas an rud é…

Ach is glas iad na cnoic i bhfad uainn, is dócha.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Ireland's Eye from Portmarnock velvet Beach
Ireland’s Eye, Co. Dublin

Anyway we have one special island on the East coast – Ireland’s Eye, just north of Howth harbour and east of Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand. The Vikings had the word Ey for island – so that’s where the present name comes from but it was originally called: Inis Mac Neasáin and there’s a little church on the island that was built by the resident saint: Mac Neasáin

I took the photo above a couple of days ago. Today as I write, there are squalls howling over it, and the seagulls are flying backwards (as Dave tells me). But isn’t there something special about these islands, something enchanting?

Is it our yearning to be free? To be safe? To be separate? To be alone?

Is glas iad na cnoic i bhfad uainn. The faraway hills are green, I suppose. Maybe the islanders are wishing right now – that they were safe and dry on the mainland. I was on Inis Oírr a couple of years ago and saw the damage that had been wrought there by the sea…

watercolour sketch by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of the Plassey shipwreck on Inisheer
my sketch of the ‘Plassey’, 2014

And of course, the good ship Plassey is the proof (if you needed it) of the awesome power of the sea. In 1960, she was thrun up on the rocks like an empty crate and she lies there dejectedly to this day.

There must be a moral to this story but, for the life of me, I can’t think of one. I’d welcome your suggestions – down below in the Comments section. And forgive me – I should’ve started with “Happy New Year” and thanks for dropping by!

Beir Beannacht agus Bua !

The story of the wreck of the ‘Plassey’



  1. HNY2U2 Eoin ! Just back overnight from a ferry crossing, delayed by storm Eleonor ; while we are resilient, we have little power over these storms .This year we will see more and more evidence of Climate Change in Ireland and maybe start to ACT . As Macron said recently we are losing this one. Your shared thoughts help realise what we are losing, and the consequences .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The island is a nice metaphor for separateness. It is a significant part of the human experience to want to be different to everybody else and there is also a desire to fit in. But do we really want to be with people who are like us all the time? We should try to strengthen and develop those parts of us that are unique so that we can contribute more and therefore be more useful in society. The metaphor of the island enables us to understand the two opposing pulls that we experience – wanting to be on the mainland (or maybe the bigger island) like lots of other people but also wanting to get off it and to get away to the smaller island and be away and separate from everybody else.

    Liked by 1 person

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