There are a few weeks of our summer left.
And the likelihood is, you’ll be staying at home.
(I don’t use words like “staycation”. I prefer to stick to English!)
As one who has holidayed in Ireland for years (my doctors recommend against flying because of the risk of stroke due to my breathing difficulties) I can assure you there is nowhere more beautiful to spend a few weeks.
I couldn’t do a top ten. So much of it is so magnificent that it would be unfair to leave anywhere out and equally unfair to say one is better than the other.
But, today, I’m going to mention just one place.
The Blasket Islands.
I am so glad I made the trip a few years ago because, the way my breathing is, I’m not sure I’d attempt it now. It’s a bit on the steep side!
The whole trip is magnificent, from the view as you arrive at the pier in Dunquin to the moment you arrive on the Great Blasket Island, An Blascóid Mór, it is a thrill.
The walk down to the pier in Dunquin is steep – you’ll know that for sure on your way back!
The ferry is grand. It’s comfortable and quick.
And the thrilling bit starts when you transfer into a dinghy, a big one in fairness, for the last few hundred metres to the island.
We did it with our child and our dog!
Once on the island, you walk up the steep slope to where the houses are and then you begin to wonder.
How did people live here, cut off from the mainland for maybe months at a time, long before there was any ready form of communication?
How did they eke a living out of this beautiful, hilly island on the edge of Europe?
How did it produce three writers in Tomás Ó Criomhthain who wrote An tOileanach, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin who gave us Fiche Bliain ag Fás and Peig Sayers who didn’t actually give us Peig but who was, I am assured and believe, a funny, brilliant storyteller who was done a disservice by those to whom she told her stories and who then turned them into the bore that is the book we all hated at school.
Look back at the mainland and wonder about life there seventy, eighty or more years ago.
Think of the stories – like the one about the Spanish seamen who claim that when they visited the island several hundred years ago, some of the islanders could converse perfectly in Spanish. True nor not? I don’t know.
But I do know that the brilliant English scholar Robin Flowers visited the island and fell in love with it. And he fell in love with our language too and spoke it fluently with a perfect ‘blas.’
Somewhere, in a box in the home of one of my siblings, there is a photograph of my late father with Peig.
He gave me many, many gifts including my love of our language and my fascination with the Blasket Islands.
Visit. Really. Go and see for yourself. And if you don’t go this year, put it on your bucket list.
At the very least, whet your appetite by visiting www.blasket.ie
Better still, book your trip at www.blasketisland.com or call 085 7751045
No. I’m not being paid to do this.
I’m doing you a favour I hope by pointing you towards one of the great things to do in Ireland. One of the most Irish things you can do in Ireland.
Tá süil agam go nglacfaidh tú mo chomhairle. Ní bheidh aiféala ort
Is áit álainn, draíochta, mistéireach, glórmhar é.
Agus smaoiním go minic fós ar mo chuairt.