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The Great Blasket Centre on the mainland in Dún Chaoin, on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, is an interpretative centre / museum honouring the unique community who once lived on the Great Blasket Island. This community produced an extraordinary amount of literature, referred to as The Blasket Library, which includes classics such as The Islandman, Twenty Years A Growing and Peig. The centre, which is operated by the Office of Public Works, was opened in 1993 and overlooks the panorama of the Great Blasket and its family of surrounding islands.
The Blasket Islands (Na Blascaodaí in Irish - etymology uncertain: it may come from the Norse word "brasker", meaning "a dangerous place") are a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland, forming part of County Kerry. They were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Irish-speaking population. The inhabitants were evacuated to the mainland on 17 November 1953. Many of the descendants currently live in Springfield, Massachusetts and some former residents still live on the Dingle peninsula, within sight of their former home.
The islanders were the subject of much anthropological and linguistic study around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries and, thanks partly to outside encouragement, a number of books were written by islanders that record much of the islands' traditions and way of life. These include An tOileánach (The Islandman) by Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig by Peig Sayers and Fiche Blian ag Fás (Twenty Years A-Growing) by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin.
The Blasket Islands have been called Next Parish America, a term popular in the United States.
We had a great time and our driver P.J. was the delight of the trip! My son Drew, (19) and daughter Diana, (29) absolutely fell in love with him and were so disappointed when he dropped us off in Dublin. The itinerary was just right for a first time visit. I am absolutely thrilled that we spent most of our time out in the country. Your suggested tour was exactly what I was looking for. The hotels in Galway, Dublin and Killarney were very nice. The people at the hotel in Killarney were exceptional and they really went over and above to take care of us and the view was spectacular.
We all had a great time and plan to come back again and fly into Shannon (as you had suggested) and stay at Ashford Castle and a couple of other castles too. P.J. got us reservations for tea at Ashford Castle on Monday and we had a blast. What a beautiful place! Thanks for a great trip.
Sandra Doty, Dallas, TX