Blasket islander Michael (92) makes emotional journey home for last time
"I'M here." It was the simple utterance at the end of an epic journey of one man's emotional return home to the place of his birth.
With tears in his eyes, Michael Carney gazed around the deserted Great Blasket, taking in the ruins of his old home and the village, the schoolhouse, and An Tra Ban – the strand where he spent the endless hours of his boyhood playing football with his friends, improvising with a sock stuffed with grass in place of a ball.
It has been 76 years since Michael Carney, or Mike, as he's known to his friends, left the Great Blasket at the age of 17.
But his emotional attachment is undiminished.
He's spent the most of his life in Springfield, Massachusetts, and describes his love of his adopted place and home as being like loving two parents.
This weekend he made an emotional return home, setting foot on the island for the last time, accompanied by his four children, two of his grandchildren, his sons-in-law and close friend, Maurice Brick.
And at 92 – he turns 93 in September – Mr Carney is the oldest surviving native Blasket islander.
It was a celebratory weekend in west Kerry that welcomed home the last surviving native islanders and their descendants, as part of The Gathering.
His hope for the future is that the Government fulfills its promise to preserve the island and its heritage that produced some of the most important writers in the Irish language.