Great Blasket Island – Irish Panorama
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The Blasket Islands off the Irish coast in County Kerry really captured my imagination for some reason. And I’m hard pressed to explain why. Maybe it was the gorgeous weather on the day that I saw them from the Slea Head Road? The sunlight on that winter day was phenomenal… And those islands, even now, seem temptingly out of reach..
The main island at the heart of this panorama is Great Blasket itself, the largest of the seven island in the archipelago. Great Blasket once had a village and a population of roughly 200 hardy souls. By all accounts, life on the Blasket islands was long a struggle with the elements, but to the people who called it home, a special place. The march of time spelled an end to their way of life, though. By 1953, the population had dwindled to 22 people and the decision was made to evacuate the last of them to new homes on mainland Ireland.
The general cultural isolation of the Blasket led to a lot of interest for people studying the Gaelic Irish language around the turn of the last century. That interest and interaction with outsiders in turn resulted in several biographical accounts from people who lived there. It was after seeing the Blasket that I bought and read an English translation of Tomas O’Crohan’s The Islandman. His book and the others published turned out to be something of a swan song for life on the Blasket islands, documenting a way of life that was nearing its end written in the language of the people who lived there.
A view of Great Blasket and the other islands surrounding it was as near as I managed to get to the actual place, but a couple of stormy days on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands plus my imagination gave me a flavor of life there as I read The Islandman while I stayed in Galway. Some day, I’d love to actually step foot on the Blasket Islands, but a part of me feels as if I’ve already been there. Those feelings and photos from that beautiful day inspired this panoramic landscape.
Have you visited the Blasket Islands? Or seen them from the shores of County Kerry? Or perhaps you have ancestors who called them home once? I hope you’ll stop for a moment to share with me what captured your interest and imagination in this Irish print?