Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Saltee Islands

The Saltee Islands are about 5km of the coast of Kilmore Quay, about 40 minutes from home.  They consist of two Islands Great and little Saltee. The Saltees is the best known bird resort in Ireland. The islands are privately owned by the Neale family. Michael Neale bought them in 1943 and then proclaimed himself "Prince Michael of the Saltees. He places the following advertisement in the Dublin newspapers 
Great Saltee
"I, Prince Michael Neale, landowner, will assume the title of Prince of the Saltees at the conclusion of the war. Also I wish it to be known that no one will be permitted to enter the Saltee Islands without a permit issued by me."  
However because of World War 2 he didn't crown himself until 1956. He entered into a long battle with Wexford County Council about rates. He refused to engage with anyone who refused to address him as Prince Michael and eventually won this small battle with them when they began to addressing letters to Prince Michael Neale.

He died in 1998 and has been succeeded by his son Prince Michael the Second. Shortly before he died he decreed "All people, young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the unborn generations to come, see and enjoy."

A French Pretender to the throne
In 2009 our school hosted teachers from France, Greece and the Czech Republic. We decided to bring them out to the islands for the day. Strangely enough, none of the three teachers from our school had been on the Island before. We organised two boats to bring us out. The fun was getting off the boats as there is no jetty to land. We tranferred from the fishing boat to small dinghies which dropped us off. We had to scramble on to the rocks which for the athletically challenged (me) was fun!
Transfer to the dinghy
We brought a local man with us, Jim Hurley, who knew the history, flora and fauna of the island. The islands are privately owned by the Neale family. When they are in residence on the island all visitors must leave by four o'clock

Our group
A Puffin

Ha, I found you, out you come!

Through the Looking Glass!
Gannet  Colony

Great Black Backed Gull

Keeping Watch
Great Black Back Gull's Nest

There is a large Seal Colony here also.
Razorbills, Lords of all they survey!
Guillimot egg
When we left the island there was quite a swell on  the sea. Once again we transferred form the smaller boat to the bigger one. The boat I was on started it's engines and they immediately cut out again. A couple more tries, the boat rolling in the swells it became apparent there was a problem. We were quickly reassured that all that was necessary was to change the oil filter. We sat rolling from side to side while this was done. Once more they tried to start the engine. Once more it refused to catch. In the end we were towed back to harbour by the first boat. Instead of our guests being upset by the mishap they were highly amused. It added to the adventure of the day. 
Being towed home!
This might have been the better way home!
 This is the official website for anyone who would like more information.
The Saltees

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