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Top 9 Islands in Ireland

You’re never far from the coast when you’re touring Ireland, and wherever your journey leads, you’ll see land cresting up over the horizon. It’s fitting that some of the most tantalising attractions of the Emerald Isle are islands themselves. These not-so-distant sirens beckon travellers from the mainland – especially during the peak summer months. And they have plenty to offer – everything from ancient ruins to enormous colonies of seabirds.

Many of these islands make for an ideal escape from life in the cities. Visitors are hard-pressed to find anything that resembles hustle and bustle. That said, many of these offshore destinations have been inhabited for millennia. With that in mind, you’ll find everything you need in terms of facilities and accommodation on most of them. What you won’t find is a frenetic pace of life.

The following are some of the highlights to expect from Ireland’s islands:

Dramatic coastal scenery
The stormy North Atlantic is all about tireless drama, and eons of pounding surf have carved out some spectacularly craggy coastal scenery. The terrain is severe, but the view is inspiring – and it often comes without the protection of safety rails. Wear sturdy shoes and watch your step!

Ancient ruins
Thousands of years ago, small outposts held the islands around Ireland. The best-known is the Stone Age fort of the Aran Islands, which perches on the edge of a precipice and practically dares the stormy waters to pull it into the sea. They haven’t succeeded yet.

Flourishing wildlife
Colonies of seals inhabit many of Ireland’s islands, but they’re usually the side attraction. Hundreds of thousands of migrating seabirds take centre stage. Birdwatchers are spoiled for options.

Traditional culture
Even if it’s only a few miles offshore, an island is still in isolation. Many of the inhabited islands around Ireland harbour a more traditional version of Irish culture. They speak old Irish dialects and keep the traditions alive. 

1. Skellig Islands
2. Aran Islands, County Galway
3. Inishbofin, County Galway
4. Tory Island, County Donegal
5. Inishturk Island, County Mayo
6. Rathlin Island, County Antrim
7. Cape Clear Island, County Cork
8. White Island, County Fermanagh
9. Garinish Island, County Cork

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