On a sunny but blustery day in August, we rolled up to the Great Blasket centre (The Great Blasket Centre and Island | The story of a remarkable island community) which re-opened on 28th June 2022 of major refurbishment. The stunning building sits in stark contrast with the surrounding wild countryside , still blending nicely into the environment due to the use of natural stone,....
The 2.9 million refurbishment resulted in the total transformation of the exhibition halls with the aim to deliver an authentic and imaginative re-telling of the story of the Blasket islands, their rich heritage and their literature which is of national and international significance.
And boy, have they succeeded in this. From the moment you walk into the Great Blasket Centre, you are welcomed by an impressive interior full of educational exhibitions.
The first thing you notice when you walk into the building is the colourful window in the lobby. Here you will find the reception from which you purchase your ticket for the exhibitions. We must say the ticket price is very reasonable: adult (€5), groups/seniors (€4), student/child (€3), family (€13), kids under 8 are free.
Where the lobby is the central point of the Great Blasket Centre, it gives you access to both the restaurant and exhibitions.
When entering the exhibition, you are immediately drawn into Island life. The white and airy corridor takes you on a journey through the lives of the islanders through the many exhibition rooms.
The design of the Great Blasket Centre is just outstanding. Walking through the long main corridor, windows at regular intervals provide natural light , but also views across the Dingle peninsula and the Wild Atlantic.
At the end of the long corridor is a large viewing window providing you with views towards the Blasket islands. Where the cleverly placing of this viewing window cascades bright sunlight all along the main corridor, it also provides you with a focal point which draws you closer each time you visit one of the exhibition halls.
These exhibition halls are located on either side of the corridor, each of them inviting you to learn more about Island life.
Each of the exhibition halls is painted in earthy colours providing you with a warm welcoming environment. The many artefacts and interactive displays are nicely laid-out, each of them educating you on a new aspect about the Blasket Islands.
A great way to start your visit is by watching the 15 minute long movie which tells you what life was like on the islands, the dwindling population and eventually the last people leaving the island.
Within the different exhibitions, you learn more about island life, the importance of fishing and farming, but you will also get an insight in modes of work and transport .
It was a tough life living on an island, sometimes being cut-off from the mainland for days/weeks on end due to prevailing storms. One of the exhibition halls focusses on the islanders language and culture.
The Great Blaskets were also the birthplace of some literary masterpieces. For example, books like Peig, the Islandman and twenty years a growing were all written on the island. And where some of these books might have provided many Irish schoolkids nightmares during their Irish class, it is this extraordinary literary legacy which gives us insight in what life would have been on the Islands.
The exhibitions tell you the story of island life using a variety of means - from the interactive displays to the many artefacts to audio visual presentations, it is a stunning visitor centre which will be loved by young and old.
The Great Blaskets are also home to some amazing wildlife both in the water and on land. The islanders had mastered living on those remote islands surviving those harsh winter months.
From collecting food during the summer months to fishing and catching birds,.... it was a constant year-round battle against the elements. But it was also a close-knit community, one where they provided each other with laughter, music and songs by the fire on those dark winter nights.
Outside the building is a walk which brings you along the Atlantic shoreline to a viewing platform which provides you with ideal views towards the Islands.
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield