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Thursday 23 March 2017

Islanders reunited 50 years after last leaving their home

Nick Bramhill

An island community that died 50 years ago came alive once again yesterday at a poignant remembrance mass.

Nine of the 12 islanders who were evacuated half a century ago from Inishark, 15km off the Galway coast, were reunited to mark the anniversary of the day that their island was abandoned.

One was unable to attend due to ill health, while a couple more were unable to make the long trip from their homes in the US.

The Atlantic was too rough for islanders to return to the isolated outpost that they last lived in half a century ago. But at an emotional remembrance service on the mainland in Claddaghduff, Co Galway, the island's former priest Fr John Flannery, 76, recalled his memories of life on the island up to October 20, 1960, the day he helped move the islanders off for the last time.

Even now many of the elderly islanders are still angry that the Government refused to invest in the island instead of evacuating them to new houses in Claddaghduff in Connemara.

But yesterday, as the lost community got together once more to reflect on their past lives, there were feelings only of joy. Martin Murray, who was 14 at the time of the evacuation, said: "It's been a long time since Inishark was evacuated, but yesterday it was like stepping back in time to the old community. It was something I will never forget."

Sunday Independent

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