Friday, 1 September 2023

Island 513 - Ramsey Island, Essex

Ramsey Island on the north coast of the Dengie Peninsula and south bank of the River Blackwater in Essex is no longer a true island. It used to be separated from the mainland of Essex by a tidal creek known as The Wade but the entrance to the creek was closed off with a sea wall in the late 19th/early 20th century.  Part of the village of St Lawrence is located on Ramsey Island.  There is a pub called The Stone Inn and the Stone Sailing Club on the island.

An Ordnance Survey map of the area, which was surveyed in 1874 marks oyster beds in the area where the Stone Sailing Club is now located but fewer than 10 houses on the island.  A few more houses had been built along Tinnocks Lane by the early 1920s but by this time the oyster beds had become disused.

The Stone Inn

A-Frame houses

Public table tennis table

The sea wall and beach at low tide

The oldest houses on Ramsey Island - traditional weatherboarded cottages

Stone Sailing Club

Sunday, 20 August 2023

Island 512 - Cromane Island, County Kerry

Cromane Island is a small tidal island at the end of a sand and shingle spit attached to the north coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry.  It sticks out into Castlemaine Harbour and nearly meets up with Inch Beach, which is a sand spit attached to the south side of the Dingle Peninsula.  A public road runs up the west coast of the Cromane peninsula.  Cromane Point at the north end of the peninsula curves round to the south east and Cromane Island is on the east side of the spit and sheltered by it.  There is some kind of industrial building on the island, presumably something to do with the shellfish industry. There is grass on part of the island and a few other low growing plants, e.g. sea beet, bird's foot trefoil and sea campion.

Cromane Island

Cromane Island - looking NW towards Cromane Point

Industrial building on Cromane Island

Wildflowers on Cromane Island

The tidal causeway - looking SE towards Cromane Island

Small fishing boat on Cromane Island

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

Island 511 - Great Samphire Island, Fenit, County Kerry

Samphire Island is joined to the mainland of County Kerry at the village of Fenit (rhymes with "seen it") by an 800 metre long pier and it forms part of the harbour, marina and port.  The original wooden pier was constructed 1882-1889.  It was replaced in the 1950s by the current concrete pier. The main items exported from Fenit are cranes and other products manufactured by Liebherr in Killarney. The harbour is also used by local fishing boats.

The south west corner of Great Samphire Island is accessible to the public and there is a small heritage park with a picnic table, bench and various sculptures and replicas of ancient artefacts. Most of the sculptures were made by Eoghan and D'Ana O'Donogue-Ross of Glenflesk, County Kerry.

A  12 feet high bronze statue of Brendan the Navigator, who was born at Fenit c484 AD, was erected on the island in 2004.  It was sculpted by Tighe O'Donoghue-Ross of Glenflesk, who died in May 2023 aged 81.

A fishermen and sailors' memorial was unveiled on the island in 2013. The statue, which was sculpted by Seamus Connolly from County Clare, depicts a fishermen who is mending his nets and gazing out to sea. The memorial is dedicated to local fishermen and those whose last part was Fenit who lost their lives at sea.

Sea campion, thrift, bird's foot trefoil and alexanders were growing on the island when I visited in mid-May 2023.

Pier from Great Samphire Island

Harbour Office

Working Harbour

West coast of Great Samphire Island

Yachts on Great Samphire Island


RNLI collection box

Mermaid sculpture

Fishermen's Memorial

Memorial plaque remembering the men who died on the French fishing boat An Oriant, which set sail from Fenit and was lost at sea on 1st October 2000

Memorial plaque remembering 8 local fishermen who died between 1965 and 2009

Fishermen and Sailors' Memorial

St Brendan the Navigator

Picnic site

Statues of the 12 apostles


Replica Ogham Stone

Sculpture of an Irish abbot

Relica of a beehive hut

Replica of a beehive hut

Replica of a Bronza Age wedge grave

Sculpture of Neolithic bull├ín stone

Replica Reask Stone from Ballyferriter

Replica tri-circle sculpture from Newgrange, County Meath

Plaque commemorating a boating accident in 1894

Little Samphire Island from Great Samphire Island


Tuesday, 1 August 2023

Island 510 - Fenit Island, County Kerry

Fenit Island (Fenit rhymes with "seen it") is linked to the mainland of County Kerry at the village of Fenit by a sand tombolo.  The island encloses and shelters Barrow Harbour, which is a Special Area of Conservation.  St Brendan the Navigator was bon on Fenit Island c484 AD.  In the 16th century a castle was built on the island by the FitzMaurice clan and the ruins of it are still standing today.  At the time of the Great Famine in the 1840s 600 people lived on Fenit Island's 440 acres and there were 2 churches and a graveyard.  Vehicle access to the island for the current residents of Fenit Island is via the beach on the east side of the tombolo at low tide.

Land on Fenit Island is currently owned and farmed by 9 different people. Local people and visitors had enjoyed free access to the perimeter path around the island for many years until one of the island's landowners put up high fences preventing access to the path to the castle c2008.  Several other landowners subsequently erected similar high fences around other sections of the coastal path.  Local people held a protest walk and campaigned for years to get the fences removed.  In 2017 Kerry County Council served enforcement notices on the landowners giving them 8 weeks to remove the fences.  In January 2022 a judge ruled that the fences should be removed.

Notice about the fragility of Fenit Island tombolo

Erosion control notice

Keep off the dunes notice

Track on Fenit Island

Cattle grazing on Fenit Island

Farm track on Fenit Island

Track up the west side of Fenit Island

Farm track

Beach on the west side of Fenit Island

Birthplace of St Brendan the Navigator

Fenit Island tombolo at the mainland end