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A stunning window into the past

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An amazing new visitor experience has officially opened at the Blasket Islands following an investment of €2.9 million by Fáilte Ireland, the Office of Public Works and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The Minister for State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan and Máire Ní Shúilleabháin Uí Chíobháin, daughter of famed Blasket author Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, yesterday officially reopened the iconic Blasket Centre – Ionad an Bhlascaoid – in Dún Chaoin on the western edge of the Dingle Peninsula.

Maírín Uí Shé, Cathair an Treanntaigh, stands beside the illustrations of her uncle Seán Feilí Ó Cathaín and grandfather, Muirís Ó Catháin.
Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan

Adjacent to the recently opened viewing platform. with spectacular views over the Blasket Islands, the project includes a total transformation of the centre’s exhibitions to deliver an authentic and imaginative re-telling of the story of the Blasket islands.

It traces their rich heritage and their literature which is of national and international significance.

The Blasket Centre is a flagship visitor attraction for Kerry and is expected to attract 63,000 visitors to the region by year five of opening.

The centre has been designated as a Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point, and together with the walkway and viewing platform, which opened to the public in 2020, it offers dramatic views of the Blasket Island archipelago and the Atlantic coastline.

The project provides direct employment for 20 people when in operation and will support over 250 additional jobs in this Gaeltacht region.

Minister Patrick O’Donovan described it as “a stunning piece of architecture” that is now home to a totally new exhibition that tells the story of the Blasket Islands in an imaginative multi-media experience.

Granddaughter Clodagh Uí Fhlathartha and great granddaughters, Sadhbh Ní Shlattara and Cora Uí Shlattara beside Seán Pheats Tom Ó Cearnaigh at the Ionad an Bhlascaoid

“It also pays homage to the significant cultural footprint the islanders left in a series of books documenting their lives.

“I invite visitors to come and discover this utterly unique heritage centre and museum which is both a window into the past and enables us to keep the extraordinary legacy of the Blasket Islanders alive by engaging with their history, their language and culture,” he said.

Orla Carroll of Fáilte Ireland said investing in standout attractions that tell the rich story of Irish heritage creates new and unique reasons for visitors to choose Ireland, while creating employment in rural Ireland and its urban centres.

“The development of this new centre and the spectacular vistas from the viewing platform at the Blasket Islands create another reason to visit Kerry,” she said.

Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan

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