There’s more to Ireland than the Guinness!
The Saltee Islands are two small islands locacted just outside of Kilmore Quays in eastern Ireland, which is a couple of hours’ drive from Dublin down the coast.
Situated in the waters of St. George’s Channel, the Saltee Islands consist of the Great and Little Saltee. The larger island, Great Saltee, is the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland and is very popular among day trippers and birdwatchers alike. These islands are privately owned but are open to the public. If the owners are on the island, the last admittance is at 5 p.m. If they are not, people can stay longer.
The boat transports visitors every few hours and pre-booking is essential. Make sure to bring some waterproof shoes; otherwise, you will be forced to take your sneakers off and walk through about 100 meters of wet and slippery seaweed as I did because the boat can’t get directly to the coast. But to be honest, walking barefoot through the seaweed was quite enjoyable.
The Saltees are a haven for seabirds, from gannets and gulls, to puffins and manx shearwaters. They lie on an important migratory route and are also popular pit stops for spring and autumn migrants. The Great Saltee also has a breeding population of grey seals, one of the very few in eastern Ireland. Up to 120 animals are present in autumn and up to 20 pups are born annually.
The Saltees are among the ancient islands of Europe based on pre-Cambrian bedrock, i.e., between 600 million and 2 billion years old. The primitive Stone Age man first settled there before history was even recorded and had carved out an existence. As far back as 3,500 to 2,000 B.C., people were already living on the islands.
The wild flowers and butterflies are another attractive sights in the islands. But don’t get too close to the cliff edges as it might be dangerous.
Having a picnic is always a good idea as the views are stunning and the air is fresh so you will probably get hungry. Boat trips to and around the larger island costs 25/20 EUR for adults and 15/10 EUR for kids, and can be arranged by contacting Declan at +353539129684.