Evacuation of Blasket re-told

A new book on the social history of the Great Blasket Island contains photographs taken by The Cork Examiner of the evacuation of the island almost 60 years ago.

The 600-page book by former journalist and broadcaster Micheal de Mordha, a native of Dunquin, also features several previously unpublished photographs and material about the island.

Titled Scéal agus Dán Oileáin (The Story and Fate of an Island), it deals especially with islanders’ pleas to be transferred to the mainland and the eventual “abandonment” of the island.

The islanders were enduring hardship and growing isolation, and their requests for help were expressed in correspondence with the then taoiseach Éamon de Valera and other politicians.

Mr de Valera was blamed by some for accelerating the abandonment of the island.

During a visit to the Great Blasket as part of an island tour in July 1947, he was implored by the inhabitants to get them off the island.

The population, drained by emigration and an exodus of young people, had fallen to 40 at the time.

“The feeling was de Valera’s government had procrastinated for too long on giving a lifeline to the islanders,” said Mr de Mordha.

“When a government decision was finally made to assist the islanders, the only option was the transfer of the remaining 21 inhabitants over to the mainland.”

Houses were provided for some of the islanders in nearby Dunquin. Nov 17, 1953, was the date set aside by the Land Commission for the “abandonment” and the event was covered by Cork Examiner photographer Louis MacMonagle and reporter Walter McGrath, both now deceased.

The book will be launched this Friday in the Blasket Centre, Dunquin, by Máire Llewellyn Ní Shúilleabháin Uí Chíobháin, the daughter of Blasket writer Muiris Ó Súilleabháin.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Movember shows that men’s health is in crisis

Ryanair sues Google and eDreams over web search issues

Dublin residents take action over hostel for homeless

Early warning system to tackle suicide in Cork


Breaking Stories

Adams: 'Why on earth would I say that I received the names from (Austin Stack) if I didn’t?'

Man shot in Cork city

'It's like winning the Derby again' declares trainer of kidnapped champion greyhound

Gardaí seek public's help in finding missing 73-year-old man

Lifestyle

Full disclosure in Oliver Stone's new film about CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden

What to buy for the most awkward people in your life this Christmas

Children's hospice makes sure families experience a truly precious Christmas

Making Cents: PCPs are the deals for those looking for new wheels

More From The Irish Examiner