Inishtooskert: The Sleeping Giant

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By jeroen

Encounters with locals, discoveries in remote places, and sharing knowledge with others form the essence of travel. It was during our adventures on Dunmore Head that we crossed paths with Gail and Pat, two friendly individuals as mentioned in a previous blog. Gail had so much to share about this area and introduced us to the enchanting island of Inishtooskert.

A few weeks ago, I sent Gail a message to learn more about some of the Blasket island’s nicknames. As always, I received a beautiful and detailed explanation. It is people like Gail who enable me to enrich and verify my blog, providing accurate and reliable information. The internet is filled with erroneous details, and while I also make mistakes, I take pride in recently receiving an email from Google, thanking me for correcting some inaccuracies on their maps, particularly incorrect names added by people.

But let’s delve into the story of the Sleeping Giant. Just as we arrived at the graveyard near ‘Dunmore Head‘, the local residents were busy assisting a cow in labor. It was a wonderful example of the tight-knit community spirit that still thrives in these remote areas. Despite residing far apart, neighbors always come together to support each other, even in the face of minor challenges. I wonder if such camaraderie still exists in some communities… Although it all starts with us, of course!

Inishtooskert is not just an ordinary island. It is a place where legends come to life and where the breathtaking beauty of nature stirs your soul. It is a place where storm petrels slice through the air, rugged cliffs bear witness to centuries-old history, and where the sunset bathes the island in a golden glow, awakening the sleeping giant. But you’ll read more about this in my nerdy deep dive into Inishtooskert.

Travel is not only about the destination but also about the people you meet, the stories you hear, and the knowledge you gain. It is a journey that stimulates your senses, broadens your horizons, and fills you with a deeper appreciation for the world around us.

I extend my gratitude to Gail, Pat, and many others who have helped us discover this remarkable place. We will continue our journey, seeking new adventures and captivating stories to share.

The pictures here are taken from ‘Dunmore Head‘ and  from the graveyard of ‘Reilig Dhún Chaoin

A nerdy deep dive into Inishooskert

Far off the coast of County Kerry lies Inishtooskert, also known as the Sleeping Giant Island. This island, the northernmost of the Blasket Islands, carries a mysterious and enchanting atmosphere. With its striking profile from the coastline, Inishtooskert has garnered various nicknames, including “An Fear Marbh” (The Dead Man), “The Sleeping Giant,” and “The Bishop.”

It is a place steeped in history and legends. On the island, you’ll find the ruins of ancient Christian oratory, accompanied by clocháns, beehive-shaped dry-stone huts. They stand as a testament to ancient beliefs and spiritual connections. These primitive structures breathe the spirit of a bygone era while bravely withstanding the elements.

However, the most intriguing story that envelops Inishtooskert is that of Tomás and Peig O Catháin, a courageous couple who lived on the island in 1850. A relentless storm cut them off from the outside world, and they were forced to survive with meager supplies. The conditions were harsh, and the small stone hut with a smokehole on the roof served as their only refuge.

Sadly, during this ordeal, Tomás lost his life. Peig, too weak to carry his body out of the hut, faced a heart-wrenching choice. In an act of ultimate survival instinct, she began dismembering her husband’s body and throwing the pieces out through the smokehole. When the residents of the nearby Great Island finally reached the island, they found a broken and deranged Peig surrounded by the remnants of her beloved.

Today, Inishtooskert is uninhabited and doesn’t attract many human residents. But the true inhabitants of this island are the storm petrels, a majestic colony that considers it their sanctuary. Their wings slice through the air as they brave the stormy seas, making Inishtooskert home to one of the largest colonies of these birds on Earth.

The journey to Inishtooskert is no easy task. The absence of a harbor or pier presents a challenge in reaching the island. But for those who make the effort, a reward of extraordinary beauty awaits, along with the palpable presence of history. At sunset, when the last rays of light envelop the island, capturing stunning photographs is a possibility, as you can see in my blog here.

Inishtooskert is a place that captivates the imagination, offering a glimpse into a world where nature and history converge. It is a destination that stirs the soul, leaving an indelible mark on those fortunate enough to experience its allure.


The Blasket Islands are a group of islands off the coast of County Kerry in Ireland. They are renowned for their natural beauty and rich literary heritage. The islands were once inhabited, but the last permanent residents left in 1953. The Blasket Islands continue to attract visitors due to their rugged landscape, stunning beaches, and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of traditional Irish culture and history.

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