We’re all well aware that we live on the greatest little island in the world but what of the even littler ones dotted around the mainland?
Most people don’t realise that Ireland is an absolute haven for island getaways but which are the best ones to visit for a weekend or even longer?
We’ve compiled some of our favourites so you can start planning your 2019 island-hopping adventure:
1. Arranmore, Co. Donegal
Home to flocks of Gaeltacht students throughout the summer months, Arranmore is known for its amazing views over Gweedore and Glen Head as well as its birdlife. Accomodation is available at the Glen Hotel or even the former lighthouse-keepers’ dwellings on the island.
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2. Inishturk, Co. Mayo
An island of approximately 58 permanent residents, Inishturk is said to be home to the country’s smallest primary school, with only three students enrolled for the 2015/2016 year.
Despite the tiny area (0.24 km²), there’s plenty to keep visitors busy such as angling trips, hiking and a scenic cup of tea staring out the window of the local bistro.
3. Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim
An island of volcanic origin, Richard Branson once crashed his hot air balloon just off the coast. As you do.
Home to approximately 75 people, Rathlin is only six miles long and one mile wide. If you’re into puffin watching, April to July is the best time to check it out.
4. Inishbofin, Co. Galway
Known for its series of summer concerts, which last year featured the likes of Declan O’Rourke and Eleanor Shanley, as well as its April Arts Festival. Inishbofin is well worth a visit once the weather picks up.
5. Sherkin Island, Co. Cork
The second most southerly point of Ireland after Cape Clear, Sherkin’s residents live off their art: island craft, paintings and book writing all inspired by its tranquil lifestyle.
The busiest weekend of the year coincides with the Sherkin Rowing Regatta Festival which is usually held throughout the third weekend of July.
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6. Tory Island, Co. Donegal
Tory is Ireland’s most remote island, situated 12km off the mainland. One of its major attractions is a Tau Cross believed to date back to the 12th century, suggesting early ties with Egypt.
7. Inishmaan, Aran Islands
The smaller brother of the Inishmore, the largest of the Aran islands, Inishmaan boasts quieter charms not found on the more popular destination. It’s popularly known As Gaeilge as Inis Meáin, meaning ‘middle island’.
Rent a bike, grab a fishing rod and take a few days away from the big bad world.
8. Clare Island, Co. Mayo
Another place where you can stay in an actual lighthouse. Clare Island is a nature lover’s paradise with scenic walks and amazing views aplenty.
9. Belle Isle, Co. Fermanagh
A private island on the shores of Lough Erne, Belle Isle is as pretty as the name suggests. The Belle Isle Cookery School offers classes which are ideal for a fun day out or a corporate team building event. It’s also popular for weddings and it’s easy to see why.