Opinion: Why there's more to the Blasket Islands then Peig Sayers
After the previously reported travails with a B&B scammer, we did manage to get going to Dingle, where the highlight was a trip to the Great Blasket Island.
(By the way, many thanks to Tom from Lispole who rang to sympathise at our misfortune and even stood us a drink. Now, that's the kindness of a stranger.)
My first and only previous encounter with An Bhlascaod Mór came courtesy of Peig.
This infamously bleak autobiography of Peig Sayers (1873-1958), long obligatory for the Leaving Cert Irish syllabus, single-handedly turned generations of school children (including myself, sadly) off our native tongue.
Its opening words set the tone: 'Seanabhean is ea mise anois go bhfuil cos léi insan uaigh is an chos eile ar a bruach. 'I am an old woman now, with one foot in the grave and the other on its edge.'
More recently, Peig the person has undergone something of a rehabilitation, with the release of other material showing her lighter side. But the harm will not be undone overnight.
While long inhabited, the Island's population swelled in the early 19th century due to evictions on the mainland, reaching a peak of 176 in 1916. Emigration then led to declining numbers and the last residents left in 1953/54.
Access to the island is now by ferry. The shortest crossing, from Dunquin, is two miles of notoriously choppy waters.