Yesterday I joined joined Wild West Irish Tours for a day. I’m always interested in following them on Facebook and seeing where they have been and what they have seen. They take their visitors to see the ‘hidden Ireland’, which I always find fascinating. I had never been to Inishmurray so when Michael from Wild West Irish Tours asked me if I’d like to join them I jumped at the chance.
We met up at the statue at the top of the page which is located in Rosses Point, Sligo. The statue is called ‘Waiting on the shore’ and is dedicated as a memorial to the Rosses Point men who lost their lives at sea.
We met Daryl from Ewing’s Sligo Boat Charters and he took us to Inishmurray Island. We got to see some wonderful sites along the way.
The first was the ‘Metal Man’. Daryl told us he is the only man in Rosses Point never to have told a lie. There are only two of these in Ireland. The other one is in Waterford. Is it bad that I think he looks like Elvis? 😉
The start of the journey was lovely. The sun was beating down (which is nothing short of a miracle) and the sea was calm. I was thinking this is the life.
Daryl took us along side a seal colony which I thought was wonderful. So nice to see the seals up close. They are lovely creatures. Anyway after me thinking how wonderful the boat trip was we turned a corner and the sea got very choppy. I don’t think I will ever make a sailor! I was delighted when we reached the island, I felt so bad I was tempted to swim part of the way!
Michael from Wild West Irish Tours is the man in the Coast Guard top. The other people are all visitors from America. It was lovely to meet them all and have a chat. I had only ever talked to Michael on Facebook so it was great to talk to him in person.
Now to Inishmurray Island. Well what can I say, what a magical, atmospheric place. The last inhabitants of the Island left in 1948. So the buildings now are all ruins apart from the school-house.
It’s very sad to see these former homes left to decay and fall down. It made me think about the families that would have lived there and although I’m sure there was a great community spirit it must have been very bleak at times especially in the Winter when the wind and sea would have battered the island.
Above are the remains of an early Irish monastic settlement. St Molaise founded a monastery here in the 6th Century which was attacked by Vikings in 807. Remains of the 4.6 metres high by up to 3 metres thick wall can be seen enclosing the settlement which still contains some of the ecclesiastical buildings such as a stone-roofed oratory, two churches, a clochan, a bee-hive hut and other engraved slabs of stone such as what are rumoured to be “cursing stones”.
This is Michael with the cursing stones….if only they could talk.
I had a wander around the island on my own and it really was magical. You could almost hear the voices of the ghosts that had long departed. Although in reality it was only the seagulls crying but after a while they do sound like people.
The statue above was in The Womens Church, were only the women of the island are buried. It’s well worth having a look at this map of the island. I’m also in the process of reading Island Voices by Joe McGowan of Sligo Heritage. It’s a very interesting book with some wonderful photographs.
I thought it was very sad to see the last inhabited house on the island. The family have painted their names on their house. Dan Brady was the last person to leave the island, he emigrated to the U. S. in November 1948.
The only creature I saw apart from the birds was this lovely rabbit. Isn’t it amazing that the rabbits have the whole island to themselves. After a lovely few hours Daryl and the boat returned to pick us up. He had taken some other people to fish…whatever they caught they took home for their dinner. I was dreading the journey back and to be honest it was as bad (if not worse) than I expected so sadly that’s my first and last trip to Inishmurray Island.
As always I took way too many photos. You can see them here. A big thank you to Michael and all on the Wild West Irish Tours for including me on their trip and also to Daryl from Ewing’s Sea Angling and Boat Charters.