An island itself, Ireland has many islands beyond its shores and along its rivers that travellers often overlook. Some of these islands are tucked away in the lesser-known parts of Ireland, whilst others are merely missed for more prominent sights. From remote and isolated to the more inhabited and historic islands, below is a list of 10 lesser-known islands across Ireland to discover.
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Discover Some of Ireland’s Lesser-Known Islands
1 Gola Island, Co Donegal
Gola Island, or Gabhla in Irish Gaelic, is completely off the beaten track. Uninhabited since the 1960s, the island is a short boat ride from the town of Magheragallan in County Donegal. The remains of island life can still be seen on the island, with the remnants of old cottages and walls. The island has had a growing interest from artists, birdwatchers, photographers and walkers keen to soak up all the island has to offer. Rock climbers especially enjoy the island’s plunging cliff tops and, for the less active, there are beaches to wander along.
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2 Rams Island, Co Antrim
One of the largest islands on Lough Neagh, Rams Island is a one-mile ferry ride from Sandy Bay Marina, just outside Glenavy. The tree-lined 40-acre island is home to the ruins of a 19th-Century summer house and round tower dating back 1,000 years. The Rams Heritage project was started in 2004 to ensure the proper care of the island, its heritage and wildlife. Take a ferry to the island and enjoy its many ancient treasures.
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3 Dalkey Ireland, Co Dublin
Sixteen kilometres south of Dublin, Dalkey Island is now uninhabited but once had several people living on it. On the island are the remains of an ancient 11th-Century church and towers, as well as walking trails that go as far back as thousands of years to when the Vikings would have kept slaves on the island. Ferry trips to the island leave from Coliemore Harbour, taking passengers across to discover the island’s rich heritage and peaceful surroundings. On the island is Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre, which contains further information about the island.
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4 Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Known to be the most westerly part of Ireland, Valentia Island lies off the coast of County Kerry. The island affords lush vegetation and a warmer climate due to the Gulf Stream that passes by it. Once reached, the island makes for a special day out with its The island can be accessed from the mainland via a bridge at Portmagee or by ferry from Renard Point.
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5 Inishmaan, Co Galway
The lesser known of the three Aran Islands, Inishmaan or Inis Meáin as it’s known in Irish Gaelic, sits in the middle of the Aran Islands along the rugged and unspoiled west coast of Ireland. The island is predominantly Irish speaking and has a population of approximately 150 – 200 people. Visit here to get a true sense of Irish island life.
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6 Whiddy Island, Co Cork
It is thought that Whiddy Island was inhabited as far back as 4500 BC. The historic island, which lies off the coast from Bantry Bay in County Cork, was invaded by Vikings around 850 AD. Before then the island was occupied by monks and later Irish clans who would have staked their claim over the island in the late 1100s. Today, Whiddy Island has stunning walks towards the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and great cycles along quiet paths by the water. Ferries leave Bantry Bay to Whiddy Island approximately every 15 minutes during the year (dependent on weather, of course).
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7 Inishturk Island, Co Mayo
At only 5 kilometres wide, Innishturk could almost be missed along County Mayo’s coastline. However, although small, the island is rich in historic and natural highlights such as the Napoleonic signal tower, sitting 688 feet above sea level, and the island’s beautiful Tranaun and Curran beaches. A good way to spend a sunny day on the island is to hike across it then finish up with a swim at one of its beaches.
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8 Scattery Island, Co Clare
Scattery Island, or Inis Cathaigh in Irish Gaelic name, is an island along the Shannon Estuary in County Clare. Like many of Ireland’s islands, Scattery Island provided a perfect remote landscape for monks in the 6th Century, however, it wasn’t long before the Vikings came in force and took control of the island. Despite this upheaval and many years of transition since, the remains of the monk’s round tower, cathedral and oratory can still be discovered on the island. Additionally, the island holds the remains of O’Cahane castle, a 16th-Century Elizabethan building. Scattery Island can be reached by boat from Kilrush Marina during the summer season and there is also a visitor centre on the island providing guided tours.
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9 Garnish Island, Co Cork
Garnish Island is a sight to behold with its stunning gardens and a distinctive Martello Tower that stands proudly for all to see. The idyllic island offers a sanctuary away from busy lives among its garden and along pretty pathways. The island is accessible by boat from nearby Glengarriff Village and, for those fortunate, seals can often be seen en route.
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10 Turbet Island, Co Cavan
Turbet Island is a historic island that possibly doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. The island sits along River Erne in County Cavan and has upon it a mound and other sites that represent a motte and bailey that would have been built on the island in the 13th Century. The island is accessible across a footbridge located beside the main bridge across River Erne.
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Discover Ireland’s Islands Today
From the popular Aran Islands to the hundreds of small islands in Clew Bay, there is so much to discover off Ireland’s coast. Visit Expedia.ie to plan your Irish island hopping adventure today, and visit our Drive Ireland website for some inspiration along the way.