Achillbeg, in Irish Acaill Beag meaning ‘Little Achill’, is a small island just south of Achill Island and off the Corraun Peninsula. It looks like two hills with a little valley between them and is separated from the rest of Achill by a narrow channel, the Blind Sound. It covers some 60 hectares.
The island is wild and the scenery is beautiful and unspoiled shaped by the wind and the Atlantic. It is home to seabirds and to grazing sheep.
The island is reach in archaeology and many remains can be found dating back to the Early Medieval Period. Nestled on a fortified headland a large circular enclosure features a stone altar (a leach), a holy water font (a bullion), two figure of eight-huts and a little burial ground (a cillin) made of crude stones. On the hillside overlooking the site a small crude cross stands, similar to St Columcille’s stone on Iona. This site is located on the western spectacular promontory fort called Dun Kilmore and has two subsidiary headlands named the Dun and the Daingean.
The Daingean was fortified by a wall and a fosse. Inside of this were a mound, a drystone wall and the “mortar-built” inner wall of the gatehouse, suggesting a re-used of the fort in the Late Medieval period. On the island there are two other promontory forts called Dungurrough and Dun Beag.
Before the Great Famine its population was around 200 people and by the early 1960s it decreased to 6. In 1965 Achillbeg was evacuated and the inhabitants were settled on Achill and nearby mainland. In the same year a new automated lighthouse was completed on the southern tip. Nowadays some cottages have been revamped as holiday homes.
Access to the island is from Cé Mhór, in the village of An Chloich Mhór (Cloghmore), by local arrangement or from Darby Point.