A tourist's delight
Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30
Tourism is critically important to Clare Island. An estimated 15,000 people will visit the island this year, with most staying a night or more, and the employment and business these visitors generate is vital.
There are a range of accommodation types to suit all tastes and budgets, from the hostel, to B&Bs, to the boutique guesthouse experience offered by Clare Island Lighthouse.
Cliara Development Company co-ordinator Caroline Healy says each day brings a different mix of visitors. The day I was talking to her, the various parties included a group from the youth organisation Foróige and a German film crew.
"We have Irish people who come year-on-year to spend two weeks here; and you have Americans looking for their ancestors because a lot of Clare Islanders went to Chicago," she says.
"You have a lot of French, and a lot of Spanish too," she adds.
Most of the visitors enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the island, and the different pace of life, Caroline explains.
"The topography of the island is also a big attraction," local businessman Carl O'Grady maintains.
"We have mountains, lakes and cliffs, and a blue-flag beach, which is unique for an offshore island," he says - before conceding that Achill has the same, "but it has a bridge".