Today we arose early (8:00 am) and drove to Dunquin to get the Blasket Island ferry. If you’ve seen Ryan’s Daughter, you’ve seen Dunquin. We finally got to the island at about 11 after a few wrong turns to find the “terminal.” (‘ll have to post sometime later about Irish sense of time and customer service.)
The Blasket Island residents were evacuated to the main island (Ireland) in the late 50’s due to the low numbers and the cost of maintaining their living on the island. The entire story is told at the Blasket Island Centre, which we visited last week with Norman and Janet. The Blasket islanders lived in isolation, raising sheep, eating rabbits and fish, and enjoying the solace of monks. They were relatively untouched by the potato famine because they didn’t rely on potatoes as much as the rest of the country. However, young people tended to leave the island when they had a chance and by the end the population was all old and mostly male…not a sustainable model.
Today the weather was mixed, as usual. We began under clouds and had some beautiful sunshine as well. In the afternoon we experienced a shower. The return on the “ferry” (think small open 25 foot fishing boat.) was quite adventurous with about 10 foot swells and a vigorous wind. The crewman admitted that we were at about the limit for the boat. An exciting day all together. Pictures to follow on another post when we have had time to download and edit them.
One thing to note is that all of Ireland looks similar – vast green fields with stone fences. It is astonishing to realize that before human settlement 90% of this island was mature forest. Even after humans arrived the forest stood for millenia until agriculture took over. Sheep and potato farming require open land. Humans require heat. Therefore, the forests were cut. Now the island as about 10% forestland. There is a lesson here for humanity.