Everything You Need to Know About the Islands of Ireland

Ireland is dotted with beautiful little islands that are just waiting to be explored. There are hundreds dotted between Northern of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, so we have picked out some of the most beautiful and popular of the islands. 

Achill Island, County Mayo

Located just off the west coast of Ireland in County Mayo, Achill Island is the largest of the Irish isles. Despite being the largest island, there is still a small population of 2,700. Achill Island is well known for its watersports, offering the best in windsurfing, sailing, abseiling, driving and more, all of which can be done on its beautiful beaches, like Keem Bay and Keel Beach. 

How to get there

Achill Island is connected to mainland by bridge and can be accessed by car all year round. The island is a 1-hour drive from Dublin or 5 to 6 hours drive from Belfast.

Clare Island, County Mayo

Also situated just a few miles off the west coast of County Mayo, Clare Island is the largest of the Clew Bay Islands. This island is known as the ancestral home of the legendary Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley who once ruled the waters of Clew Bay and Galway Bay in the 16th century. Ruins of an O’Malley tower-house, known as Granuaile’s Castle can be found close to the eastern edge of the island. But the most famous landmark on Clare is thought to be the lighthouse, which now offers B&B accommodation. With a small yet active community, Clare Island hosts a number of events and festivals throughout the year.

How to get there

Ferry service to Clare Island departs from Roonagh Pier. Boat crossing takes around 25 minutes. In the winter, the service is limited with just two boats a day.

Inishbofin Island, County Galway

The beautiful island of Inishbofin is the ideal destination for outdoors lovers and adventurers with excellent hill walking and hiking routes, cycle trails and options for wild swimming. As a well-known breeding area for many species of birds, the island of Inishbofin is also the place people come to birdwatch. Some of the rarest and most threatened species of birds can be found on this island. Although small, there’s still space on Inishbofin for a museum. The Inishbofin Heritage Museum is the place to learn all about the history and day-to-day life of the island’s inhabitants 

How to get there

Take the ferry from Cleggan pier to the northwest of Clifden. The ferry leaves from here 3 times a day during peak times and twice a day during off peak times. Tickets can be pre-purchased online.

Skellig Islands, County Kerry

Unlike the above islands, the Skellig Islands are 2 uninhabited rocky islands, known as Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Only Skellig Michael can be visited by the public, but 180 people are allowed onto the island per day as it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many people visit Skellig Michael to visit the 6th century monastery located at the northeastern summit or the lighthouse at the opposite side. The fact that Star Wars: A Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are both filmed on the island attracts hundreds too. 

How to get there

The boat departs from Portmagee, Caherdanial and Ballinskellig Pier. The fare costs around €75 per person. Due to limited access to the island, it’s recommended purchasing your ticket in advance.

Rathlin Island, County Antrim 

To the northeast coast of Ireland you’ll find Rathlin Island, the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland. Measuring only 6 miles long and 1 mile wide, Rathlin Island is home to a population of around only 150 people, although, this number seems to be slowly increasing.  Legend says that Robert the Bruce was driven from Scotland by Edward I of England in 1306 and took refuge here. Most people visit Rathlin for a simple stroll or cycle hire is a popular option too.

How to get there

Travel via the ferry service from Ballycastle in County Antrim, just 6 miles from the island. Ballycastle is a 1-hour drive from Belfast. 

Best of Scotland Holidays makes visiting the islands of Ireland easy. Our Islands of Ireland tour spends 8-days exploring Ireland’s busiest islands as well as the ones inhabited only by a few sheep!

This package will take you to Dublin City; Achill Island; Clare Island; Killary Harbour; Inishbofin Island; The Aran Islands; The Cliffs of Moher; The Burran and many other places.

Get in contact with a member of our team who will be happy to explain more about this package.

Related Packages

Related Blogs