Inishturk in Co. Mayo

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Inishturk, meaning “Island of the Wild Boar” and also known as Turk, is an inhabited island.

It is a small and attractive island located 14.5km off the coast of Mayo, between the islands of Inishbofin and Clare.

It boasts hilly landscapes, wonderful views and beautiful beaches with fantastic clear blue waters, ideal picnic and swimming spots and offers breathtaking pathways and trials, a heaven for hill-walkers. The most beautiful beaches are Tranaun and Curran located on the eastern side of the island where there are the two main settlements: Ballyheer and Garranty.

The western and southern steep cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean offers spectacular views and off them there are rugged sea stacks named Alnarehoo, Boughil Mor, Boughil Beg, Turlinmore, Carrickboola and Glassillaun rising to 200m above sea level. They are home to a wide range of breeding seabirds such as Fulmars, Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin. On Inishturk there are excellent safe viewing points where birdwatching lovers can spot seabirds flying, catching fish and feeding their young. The best time to visit and see breeding seabirds runs from May to July.

This tranquil island is also rich in archaeological and historical sites.

Here the British built a signal tower in 1805-1806 during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). Signal towers played a central rule during this war as stations of an early-19th-century communication and alert system along the coast. It was linked with the Clare Island signal tower.

There are also an old church dating back to the sixteenth century and the remains of 9th century fort, Port An Dun, overlooking a natural lagoon. It was used by the Danes and Norse men as base during their raids.

According to legend, the last chief, who lived on the island, made a priceless beer from the heather in bloom. The Irish took the fort and captured the chief and his son. They wanted the recipe and the Danes treasure as well. The old chief didn’t want to disclose the secret and after asking to put his son to death he drowned himself into the cove, carrying his recipe and secret to Odin.

Around the lake area some beehive houses can be seen. They date back to 1500 BC and have open-air cooking sites (Fulachta Fiadh) used by the island inhabitants during the Bronze Age.

Inishturk has a lovely harbour with a new improved pier built in 2005. Ferries leave daily from Roonagh Pier near Louisburgh.

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