Inis Oirr, the smallest of the three Aran islands, is running dry.
The so-called Craggy Island — the wreck of the steam trawler Plassey which features in the opening credits of hit TV series Father Ted is located on the shoreline — has had to introduce water rationing to keep its tourism business afloat.
This is despite a fire brigade-type emergency supply which brings 100 cubic metres of water to the island every day. Yesterday, it emerged that up to 40% of the supply disappears into the ground.
“It’s not a joke at all, it’s very serious,” said Inis Oirr Co-Op manager Paddy Crowe.
“But it is ridiculous that the fire brigade system which brings 100 cubic metres of water a day to us and pumps it on to the island — only 60 cubic metres goes to the island and the other 40 cubic metres goes into the ground.”
Regarded as the driest location in the country, Inis Oirr’s problem is caused mainly because of the lack of rainfall.
“Nowhere in the country is drier than here,” said Mr Crowe. “We get lovely weather. If we did a rain dance and the heavens opened, we’d have no tourists. We’ve a micro-climate and people ask why don’t we rain-harvest. We would, but where’s the rain?”
Galway Co Council announced that, from yesterday the water supply on the island would be cut off every day at 6pm and turned back on at 10am.
The restrictions are to continue until further notice.
“It means that when I get home this evening there will be no water and by the time I go to work tomorrow morning there will still be no water,” said Mr Crowe.
The council, acting as agent for Irish Water, began to ferry supplies of water daily from the mainland to both Inis Oirr and neighbouring Inis Meain a fortnight ago.
Up to 240,000 litres is being transported after a drought which left water supplies on both islands at dangerously low levels.
Islanders on Inis Oirr will met on Monday in an attempt to find a way out of the impasse.
“There are no leaks anywhere on the island,” said Mr Crowe. “Everywhere is metered and all of the businesses here are paying water rates.
“I don’t have the answer to the problem. We need expert advice to solve this.”