Islands of Ireland Tour by Extreme Ireland
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This is for people who really want to get away from everything and get back to nature. We will be going to some of the remotest islands and peninsulas of Ireland.
- Departure times: Varied
- Duration: 7 Days
- Starts & ends in: Dublin
- 1 Star Hotel
- 2 Star Hotel
- Single room supplement: 35.00 USD
What to bring:
- Light Refreshments
- Comfortable Footwear
- Change of Clothes
- Warm Clothing
- Waterproof Clothing
Included in price:
We will be travelling by boat each day to get to 3 different islands around the south east and over to the south west coast.
Day 1 - The Saltee Islands: 7:30 a.m.
Pick up in the city centre Dublin - Tourist Office before taking the road towards the south-east of the country and the less frequented but amazing Saltee islands. We will be getting the ferry from Passage East to Ballyhack River on the Saltee Islands.
The Saltee Islands, consisting of the Great and Little Saltee, St. Georges Channel are situated approximately 5 kilometres off the coast of Kilmore Quay Co.Wexford. The larger island Great Saltee is the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland and is very popular with both day-trippers and birdwatchers. These Islands are privately owned and are one of the world's major bird sanctuaries.
The Saltees are a haven for sea birds, nurturing an impressive array of birds, from Gannets and Gulls to Puffins and Manx Shearwaters. They also lie on an important migratory route and a popular stopping-off place for spring and autumn migrants. The Great Saltee also has a breeding population of Grey Seals, one of the very few in eastern Ireland. Up to 120 animals are present in autumn and up to 20 pups are produced annually.
These Islands are among the ancient islands of Europe, based on Pre-Cambrian bedrock i.e. between 600 and 2000 million years old. There is archaeological evidence that Neolithic man settled there, and traces of religious settlements exist. There is also evidence of buccaneering and smuggling. A flourishing period in the history of the islands was from about 1500 - 1800 when they were a base for pirates, wreckers and smugglers. The gains of the wreckers and smugglers could very well be hidden in the many caves which have mysterious and romantic names - Lady Walker's Cave, Happy Hole, Otter's Cave and Hell Hole, enough for any Treasure Island. These and other caves can be clearly seen on The Great Saltee Map.
The waters around the islands can be treacherous, hence the area is know as the "Graveyard of a Thousand Ships" and the islands their tombstones.
One of the most spectacular sights on the Saltees in mid-Summer are the sea birds colonies on the cliffs to the north-east of the Gannet headland. Vast numbers of Guillemots and Razorbills pack the ledges and create a frightful incessant din which only at night abates a little. The Fulmars too play their part in this splendour. Towards dusk the sight of the Puffins congregating in small groups near their nestling sites presents a marvellous sight.
If the Saltees had any other name before their present title, it has been long lost. As for the origin of the name there are two possible theories, Norse or of Old or Middle English derivation. However the name suggests a Norse origin (Salt ey - salt island) derived from the phenomenon of the salty spray which sweeps across the islands at times of high winds and waves, especially during the winter.
"All people, young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the Islands, and leave them as they found them for the unborn generations to come, see and enjoy."
-Michael the First-
We will be spending the majority of the day on the island but will be returning to the mainland that evening and will spend the night in Passage West.
Day 2 and Day 3 - Cape Clear Island:
This morning we will be making our way towards the most southerly island in Ireland; Cape Clear of the west coast of Cork. We will be spending two nights on this wonderful island. We will be taking the ferry from Baltimore and it will take 45 minutes. The island is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and has a population of 120 persons. It is a gaeltacht island - the first language is Irish. Because of its southerly position, the climate is milder than mainland Ireland. It is like the Saltees, a noted paradise for bird watchers boasting Ireland's only manned observatory.
We will be arriving late afternoon onto the island and getting ourselves comfortable before heading down to the local pub for a couple of pints of the black stuff with the locals.
Cape's wild romantic scenery, its sparkling harbours, its cliffs and bogs and lake, all contribute to the island's unspoiled charm. Heather, gorse and wild flowers cover the rugged hills. Myriad stonewalls have a patchwork effect on the varied landscape. Megalithic standing stones and a 5000 year-old passage grave, a twelfth century church ruin, a fourteenth century O'Driscoll castle, cannonaded in the early 1600s, suggest times past. Saint Ciarán, the island's patron saint, is allegedly the earliest of Ireland's four pre-Patrician saints.
Cape's remote island location, coupled with its proximity to the continental shelf, makes it the foremost centre for birdwatching in Ireland. The best month is October followed closely by the month of April. Whale, leatherback turtle, sun fish and shark are spotted every year and dolphins regularly. Removed from the hustle and bustle of mainland life, Cape offers relaxation, nature and peace.
On day 3, we will be taking a walk around the whole island visiting many of the megalithic sites it has to offer as well as seeing much wildlife and birds. The walks are relatively easy with some ups and downs but nothing that will leave you with stiff legs the following days!
Day 4 - Sheep Head Peninsula:
Today we will be taking the ferry back to the mainland where we will travel not too far to the remote peninsula of the Sheeps Head where we will go for a relaxing 3-4 hour walk on the peninsula. This is a fantastic peninsula and we will not see many people on the path we are taking. That evening we will be spending in the town of Bantry, a small market town at the head of the peninsula.
The Sheep's head peninsula is often called the forgotten peninsula of Cork and you can see why when you arrive there. It has a such a relaxes feeling to it, the grass is so soft. You are looking out on the ocean nearly all the time on this walk. I dont know any walker who doesnt like to walk beside the ocean!
Day 5 - Garnish Island and Inch Beach:
We are going to travel across the mainland today all the way to the village of Dingle or Daingean as the locals it. However on the way we will be stopping for a short trip to Garnish Island just off the village of Gelngariff. It is an unusual little island and a nice relaxed way to spend the morning.
Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, in Southwest Ireland, Ilnacullin is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty. The gardens of Ilnacullin owe their existence to the creative partnership, some seventy years ago, of Anna Bryce, then owner of the island and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. The island was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953, and was subsequently entrusted to the care of the Commissioners of Public Works. To-day management of the island is in the hands of the Office of Public Works.
The island is named Garnish (the near island) on official Ordnance Survey Maps and is widely known by that name. The alternative name Ilnacullin or Illaunacullin (island of holly) also has a long history in the locality, and appears on at least one early map; it may in fact be the older name for the island. As there is another island garden called Garnish not far away in County Kerry, there is much to be said for using the distinctive name Ilnacullin for the island garden at Glengarriff, County Cork, and this has been the practice of the Office of Public Works for some years now.
After we get back on the mainland, we will travel over the healy pass towards the town of Killarney and then onto the village of Dingle. But before we get there we will be taking a nice walk along Inch beach. We spend the night in the lovely village of Dingle, famous for its music and colourful streets. There are a lot of artists adn musicians who live here year round and it is and Irish speaking village.
Day 6 - Great Blasket Island:
For our pulnultimate day of the tour we will be travelling to the Great Blasket Island where we will go for a 4 hour walk around the whole island.
Because of its unique culture and heritage, The Great Blasket Island is to apply for World Heritage Site status.
The Great Blasket Island remains uninhabited today, but visitors can travel by ferry over to this remote and wildly beautiful place and spend several hours or all day marvelling at its natural beauty and what remains of years of human endeavour.
The Blaskets are and have always been an intrinsic part of the parish of Dún Chaoin. Even the most casual of observers will notice that the Islands and mainland were once one, perhaps a few million years ago; the experts confirm this impression.
Locally, the Great Blasket was called simply the Island, or more formally, the Western (or Great) Island. The Blasket Islanders themselves referred to the other Islands as the Lesser Blaskets. In the past the whole group of Islands was referred to as Ferriter's Islands. From the end of the 13th Century the Ferriter family leased the Islands from the Earls of Desmond, and from Sir Richard Boyle after the dispossession of the Desmond Geraldines at the end of the 16th Century. They retained a castle there, at Rinn an Chaisleáin (Castle Point) in the lower village. There are no physical remains of that castle because the stones were carried off to build the Protestant soup-school in 1840. The same school was closed down in 1852 after the ravages of the Great Famine.
The last of the Ferriters to control the Blaskets was the poet and rebel chieftain , Captain Piaras Feirtéar. He was hanged at Cnocán na gCaorach in Killarney in 1653, after he and his followers were defeated at Ross Castle nearby.
The word "Blasket" itself is a mystery. No one knows when or who first gave it that name. In the 14th and 15th Centuries the names "brasch", "brascher" and "blaset" are recorded on contemporary Italian maps; in 1589 a variant form of these names, "Blasket Isles", appears for the first time. Blascaod/Blasket has all the characteristics and resonances of a foreign borrowing. Robin Flower has suggested that it originates from the Norse word "brasker", meaning "a dangerous place."
The Great Blasket is coated on top with a covering of furze, whins and heather, with peat (or bog or turf) beneath much of it. Turf, at a depth of one sod below the stripped surface, was usually cut with a spade.
The soil around the village is sandy, about 60 acres of it arable land; a little valley or cleft runs through the village to the sea, and ivy, holly and goat willow grow there, twisted and weathered by storms. Osiers fit for basketmaking do not grow there, and as a consequence the Islanders had to travel to the mainland, sometimes as far east as Abhainn an Scáil (Annascaul) and Ínse (Inch), to get a supply in season for making their lobster pots.
The Blasket is, and always was, teeming with rabbits. Yet it is a miracle of sorts that none of the following species is recorded on the Island: the weasel, frog, or hare; neither was the fox or the rat, the hedgehog, badger or newt. The long-tailed field mouse and the pygmy shrew were the commonest of all species on the Island.
Seabirds which never frequented the coast of the mainland were abundant there, and they are still to be found, though not in such numbers since their food supply decreased. These include the storm petrel (breeding in thousands in the island wilderness), guillemots, puffins, razorbills, the Manx shearwater, and the black guillemot. Their fledglings provided many a juicy mouthful for the Islanders when hunger stalked the countryside. Together with the nestlings of the gannet from the Sceilg, these kept the hunger from the door.
Day 7 - Rocky Road to Dublin:
This is the final day of your week long trip and we end up on the road back to Dublin unfortunately for all of us. You will agree that this has been an epic week for all of us, and one we will remember for a long time to come. You will get back to Dublin by late afternoon where we give everyone a big hug until the next adventure.
" We believe life is about great memories, spend some time creating yours! "
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