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Island hopping through heritage - A spotlight on Heritage Week island events

Ireland is surrounded by islands big and small just waiting to be explored. Step away from the hustle and bustle of life on the mainland and see a new side to Ireland by visiting some of our most cherished islands. Join in on a beach clean on Ireland’s Eye in Dublin, try whale watching on Valentia Island in Kerry or attend a house dance on Scattery Island in Clare.

There’s an island event to suit everyone, even those not too keen on boats. Here are just some of the exciting island events happening this National Heritage Week.

1. Guided Nature Walk on Whiddy Island, Co Cork

Spend an afternoon tracing the footsteps of Ireland’s first botanist, Ellen Hutchins, during this guided walk on the beautiful Whiddy Island. Part of the Ellen Hutchins festival taking place over Heritage Week, this event is a great opportunity to soak in the fresh air and the almost undisturbed nature of this island, located off the coast of Bantry Bay. The walk takes place on Thursday, 22nd August and further details are available here.

2. Coastal Heritage Cruise, Co Donegal

Will you be in Donegal this Nation Heritage Week? Why not spend a morning exploring the stunningly rugged coastline on a cruise around Cruit and Owey Islands. You will have the chance to hear all about the place names and the history of the area while taking in the views of the Northwest coast. The excursions run from Tuesday, 20th to Friday, 23rd August. Further details and booking information is available here.

3. The Glacial Landscape of Clew Bay, Co Mayo

Come to Clew Bay and learn all about how the Ice Age affected the area and shaped this unique landscape. Set in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, you can take in the beauty of these islands without having to leave the comfort of solid ground. Taking place on Thursday, 22nd August, this is a perfect event for those who want to see island heritage without having to get on a boat. Further details are available here.

4. Whale Watch Ireland 2019, Co Kerry

Spend a day on the gorgeous Valentia Island. This day long activity on Saturday, 24th August commences with an opportunity to explore the island in the morning before reconvening for lunch. After lunch you will then meet your Whale Watch Ireland guide, with whom you will spend the afternoon looking out for and learning about whales, dolphins and other marine life who live in the waters around the island. Further details available here.

5. Irelands Eye: Beach Clean & Heritage Tour, Dublin

Are you someone who would like to be involved? Join Clean Coasts for an afternoon beach clean-up and a heritage tour of one of Dublin’s lesser explored landmarks. This event is an opportunity to learn about the effects of climate change on coastal heritage and how we can help. There will also be a talk on the geology and archaeology of the island. The trip takes place on Saturday, 17th August. Further details available here.

6. House Dance on Scattery Island, Co Clare

Join a local dance teacher and spend the afternoon learning traditional dances such as the Caledonian set, shoe the donkey, and waltzes. Take in the wonderful landscape of Scattery Island and visit its historical sites including a lighthouse, a ruined monastery and much more. This family friendly day out takes place on Saturday, 24th August. Further details available here.

7. Féile na bhFlaitheartach: 2019, Co Galway

Visit the Aran Island of Inis Mór, one of Irelands most popular tourist attractions, for a full day of events celebrating two local writers, Liam and Tom O’Flaherty. Events include talks, discussions, dramatic presentations and more. This great celebration of Irish writing talent takes place on Saturday, 24th August. Further details available here.

8. An Arranmore Holiday 1889, Co Donegal

Join Seán Boner, President of the Donegal Historical Society for his illustrated talk on the Sinclair family’s exceptional photograph album of their holiday on Arranmore, in the summer of 1889. The family stayed at the Glen Hotel in Arranmore, bringing with them their very own dry plate camera. They recorded their holiday as well as everyday life on the island and captured how the island looked before the modern era. This is the perfect afternoon activity to step back in time after a morning exploring the island. Further details available here.

9. Templenaskellig: A Hidden Gem

One of Glendalough’s seven churches, the often missed Templenaskellig is located on the upper south lake and is only accessible by boat. This event will bring Templenaskellig to the visitor, showcasing images, illustrations, excavation reports, maps and much more to finally make this beautiful church accessible to all. Open throughout heritage week, why not get the family together and take the opportunity to visit Glendalough and experience this event. Further details available here.

10. Achill Tales of Drama and Trauma, Co Mayo

Why not visit Achill Island this Heritage Week? One of Ireland’s most impressive island landscapes, with towering cliffs and stunning beaches. Immerse yourself in nineteenth-century Achill history through storyboards, folklore and an island heritage tour, including startling and dramatic island narratives. Join Patricia Byrne for Achill Tales of Drama and Trauma in the Achill Experience Centre in Keel on Monday, 19th August. Further details available here.

National Heritage Week will take place from 17th – 25th August 2019 with a wide array of events happening across Ireland, come and see what's on near you.

Cover photo courtesy of the Ellen Hutchins Festival.