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The Islands of Ireland... A Little Gem Blog


Little Gem Tours guide to exploring some of the best of Ireland's islands in 2021.

Everybody knows that Ireland is an island at the western tip of Europe and at the eastern tip of the wild Atlantic Ocean. What many don't know however is that Ireland is surrounded by approximately 80 smaller islands, each with their own unique name, identity and landscape.

Of the 80 islands, 20 are inhabited and it is these inhabited islands that can provide visitors to Ireland with a unique and fascinating experience.

The isolation of Ireland’s islands provides a unique way of life for residents and a breathtaking experience for visitors. While wandering around, you’ll soon discover these islands to be havens for artists, photographers and birders alike, with almost all of these islands home to large colonies of birds and seals. The special experience of visiting these islands will provide the most stunning views that you will encounter in Ireland. Take a look at our blog and discover just a few of these unique islands...


The Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are some of the most famous and visited of all of Ireland's inhabited Islands. They are most popular with our international guests and with good reason. With exciting historical sites, Inis Mor is a bustling island to visit with plenty of attractions. One of the Aran Islands most unique attractions, the “worm hole” which has been used in the famous Red Bull Cliff diving contest is located here. Inis Mor also has a lively nightlife, with a good selection of pubs.

Inis Oirr is the smallest of these islands, a quirky destination with a fantastic beach by the pier. An old freighter shipwreck lies on the rocks here after being washed ashore in the 60’s, this island is also featured in the now famous comedy series Father Ted. There are also some great pubs to visit here.

Inis Meain famous for the Aran Sweater is the least visited island of the Aran Islands, it is also steeped in history but offers more of a tranquil experience for visitors.

Experience The Aran Island on our private tours of Ireland :

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Dalkey Island

Situated 9 miles south of Dublin City, Dalkey Island inhabited 6,000 years ago and was once used as a Viking base, is now home to a colony of seals, black rabbits and a herd of goats. One of 50 in Ireland, a prominent feature on the island is the Martello tower. Dotted around the Irish coastline, there are 26 towers close to Dublin Bay, allowing each to communicate with each other when there was to be an incoming attack. Dalkey’s rocky coastline is now a popular fishing location among the locals.

Catch Dalkey Island on our private tours of Ireland:

Some activity gems on the islands include:



A popular holiday destination among the Irish, Inishbofin is a beautiful island off the Connemara coast. With 180 residents Inishbofin has some spectacular beaches, high cliffs and amazing views back over the 12 Bens Mountain range. An imposing feature when arriving on Inishbofin is “Cromwell’s Barracks” which was used as a prison for priests arrested around Ireland in the 1600’s. There are some great, lively pubs to visit here.

Catch Inishbofin Island on our private tours of Ireland:

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Tory Island

Nine miles off the Donegal coast, Tory island is the most remote inhabited island off Ireland. The main language spoken here is Irish. Tory island has many historical and mythological sights to explore and all visiting guests until recently were always welcomed onto the island by the King of Tory, Patsy Dan Rodgers who sadly passed in 2018. Patsy was a strong advocate for the island and campaigned for better services and transport links.

Experience Tory Island on our private tours of Ireland :

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Coney Island

Coney Island off the coast of County Sligo can be accessed by driving or walking two and half kilometres over Cummeen Strand, but only when the tide is out. This strand is exposed at low tide and is marked by 14 stone pillars leading to the island. Now home to just one permanent family, Coney Island has amazing empty beaches and one local pub to enjoy a pint in.

Experience Coney Island on our private tours of Ireland :

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

Rathlin Island is the only inhabited offshore island off Northern Ireland, and is the most northerly island off the island of Ireland. Little Gem will craft your experience to Rathlin Island while exploring the Northern Region on our new 5 Day Northern Adventure Tour. The island has some breathtaking scenery and a fascinating history. Rathlin Island is popular with scuba divers, who come to explore the many wrecked ships in the surrounding waters, the most popular HMS Drake which was torpedoed by a German U boat off the island in 1917. Richard Branson crashed his hot air balloon into the sea off Rathlin Island in 1987 after his record-breaking flight across the Atlantic from Maine.

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Skellig Islands

These two small, steep, rocky islands are located off the Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry. Ireland’s most desirable islands can be difficult to visit as just 180 guests can explore this island each day. Little Skellig the smaller of the two islands is inaccessible and is home to a huge seabird colony, in fact both islands make part of the second largest seabird colony in the world. Skellig Michael or the Great Skellig is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of just two in Ireland. Sitting high on Skellig Michael is a sixth century early christian monastery which monks occupied for 600 years although to visit this famous site weather needs to be on your side to make the boat journey to the island and then there are over 600 steps to climb but this is well worth it to visit one of the famous Star Wars filming sites.

Experience the Skellig Islands on our private tours of Ireland:

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Achill Island

Achill Island is Ireland’s largest offshore island and can be accessed by car. Voted number one destination among Irish holidaymakers in 2020, Keem beach, a spectacular horseshoe cove beach is famous among visiting writers and has been featured in many of the best beaches in the world listings. With tall Cliffs, clean beaches and a gusty shoreline, Achill island is a popular place for watersports in Ireland.

Experience Achill on our private tours of Ireland:

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Inish Turk

Nestled between Clare Island and Inishbofin, Inishturk has been inhabited on and off since 4000 BC and permanently since the 1700’s. Between 1841 and 1851 the 600 inhabitants dwindled to just 200 during the famine. With a ferry service only being established in 1993, one of Ireland’s most resilient island communities enjoy amenities such as Ireland’s smallest primary school, a GAA playing field between the mountains and the community center acting as the local pub and library. A festival called Turkfest is held here every second year. A vibrant celebration of music and craic.

Experience Achill on our private tours of Ireland:

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Clare Island

Once home to the pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, Clare Island is the largest and highest island of the 365 islands off Clew Bay, County Mayo. With huge Cliffs and dramatic scenery, Clare Island has fantastic views back over Croagh Patrick Mountain. Made famous by a song from Galway band the Saw Doctors.

Enjoy a visit to Clare Island during our 13 Day All Ireland Explorer Tour.

Some activity gems on the islands include:


Spike Island

Originally a monastic settlement, afterwards housing the world’s largest prison, Spike island is perched close to the heritage town of Cobh. Spike island has a dark history and is commanded by the star shaped Fort Mitchel, a structure used for defensive purposes. New sections are still being uncovered here, most recently a secret staircase.

Experience Achill on our private tours of Ireland:

Some activity gems on the islands include:



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