SOME PHOTOS OF OUR TRIPS TO
Skipper Dermot Greer, Kevin Doyle, Garrett Connell, Shona Leydon, Fearghal Nolan, and Fia, sailing "Yola" off the Saltee Islands in June of 2010. Five wonderful days sailing with Dermot and Sailing Ireland.
A lone Razorbill guards the cliff edge on the stunning Saltee Islands. Photo by SHB.
The Saltees are home to a thriving colony of Puffins, and they can be seen in large numbers flying low over the water on the impressive Southern Cliffs. Photo SHB.
"Neidin" moored off Slade on the Wexford Coast immediately prior to departing for Kilmore Quay and the Saltee Islands. Note the plastic owl on the boom, a vital tool in keeping seagulls at bay. Rather than share their catch with the other gulls, seagulls will carry their fish to your boat, and greedily devour them on deck. The resulting mess accumulates over time and can be very hard work to clean off. The owl solves the problem and is an important crew member in wilder areas. Photo FOC. 2012.
Whale sighting season off Hook Head Lighthouse, Co Wexford. Photo SHB.
Teeming bird-life on the Saltee Islands. 2010. Photo FOC.
Fia aboard "Yola" as she pulls tight into the Southern cliff face of the larger Saltee in near perfect weather. Dermot Greer is at the helm, and we are all looking out for rocks and other dangerous obstacles. The cliff above us is pulsating with bird-life as Gannets, Puffins, and Manx Shearwaters, swoop and dive.
Shaona Leyden, Fia O Caoimh, Neil Mc Grory, and Garrett Connell, aboard Dermot Greer's "Yola" in June of 2010.
Cordula Hannsen and Fia O Caoimh passing Hook Head Lighthouse (Co Wexford), en-route for Dunmore East (Co Waterford), in the Summer of 2011.
The Saltee Islands are a haven for sea birds, nurturing an impressive array of birds, from Gannets and Gulls to Puffins and Manx Shearwaters. The Islands consist of the Great and Little Saltee and are situated approximately 5km off the coast of Kilmore Quay in County Wexford. The Islands lie on an important migratory route and are a popular stopping off place for spring and autumn migrating birds. The Great Saltee also has a breeding population of Grey Seals, one of the very few in eastern Ireland. Up to 120 animals are present in autumn and up to 20 pups are produced annually. Photo SHB
Ray MacEvoy and Fia aboard "Neidin" routing Eastwards from Dunmore East. 2011.
Fishing boats in Kilmore Quay. 2011. Photo FOC.
The Irish coast is home to many wonderful sea-birds, and the Puffin has to be one of the most beautiful. It is a charming summer visitor with striking black and white markings and a wonderful multi-coloured bill. Puffins migrate to Ireland from March to September and nest in our most remote unspoiled cliffs areas. The Great Saltee Island is a great place to see them in action, and the Cliffs of Moher in Clare and Horn Head in Donegal are also accessible sites with large visiting populations. Photo SHB.
A charming thatched cottage in Kilmore Quay Harbour. Photo FOC. 2012.
Whale watching season off Hook Head Lighthouse on the Wexford Coast. Photo by one of the Dunmore East whale-sighting boats.
The royal throne of self-declared King "Michael the First" of the Saltee Islands. When Michael was just ten years of age, he declared that he would buy the island, and he went on to make good on his promise. Michael later became a pilot, and he built a grass runway on the island to facilitate landings in his Myles Messenger aircraft.
Michael Neale aka "Prince Michael
the First" in his flying suit.
Fia at the helm as we route past Hook Head Lighthouse from Kilmore Quay to Waterford City. The trip involved a 12 mile motor-sail up the River Suir. 2012.
A pair of Gannets nesting on the Saltee Islands. Photo SHB.
Yes, the Saltees were once occupied. In the 19th century there was a population of 17 on the larger island and five on the small one. By 1940 the last resident had left. Except for the King, that is! To this day, a lofty sculptured throne stands at the head of a flight of well-chiselled steps (like an miniature Aztec monument from South America). This is the seat of the late Prince Michael of the Saltees - "a local man who claimed rightful ownership of, and governance over, the islands and built his throne as a permanent reminder of his princely title. He also planted a double row of cordyline palms from the main farmhouse to his throne and christened it The Royal Mile". Today, his family proudly maintain the islands and continue the King's long established courtesy of allowing day visitors access the island without charge.
Photo shows "Neidin" at anchor off the Wexford Coast. FOC. 2015.
Hook Head Lighthouse. Photo SHB.
Dermot Greer, Kevin Doyle, Garrett Connell, Shona Leydon, Fearghal Nolan, and Fia, sailing "Yola" off the Saltee Islands in June of 2010.
Unlike many creatures of the wild, Puffins form long-term pair bonds. The female lays a single egg, and both parents incubate the egg and feed the chick. The incubating parent holds the egg against their brood path with their wings and patiently wait for nature to take its course. The chicks fledge at night. After fledging, the chicks spend the first few years of their lives at sea, returning to breed after 3 - 6 years. Puffins are distinct in their ability to hold several (sometimes over a dozen) small fish at a time in their bill. This allows them to take longer foraging trips, since they can come back with more energy for their chick than a bird that can only carry one fish at a time. The Saltees are an important breeding ground for the type, and they are to be found in substantial numbers from April through to July. Photo SHB.
Neil McGrory, Kevin Nolan (I think), and Fia routing along
the Wexford Coast during the summer of 2012.
Wild flowers on the Saltee Islands.
Fia O Caoimh, Se Gilna, Cordula Hannsen, and Sergiy Budnyev on a 13 hour passage, passing the Saltees en-route Dunmore East to Dun Laoghaire. Photo FOC.
Prince Michael sitting in the rear of EI-AFJ, a 1939 De Havilland DH-82A "Tiger Moth" ready for take-off. Photo courtesy Saltee Islands.
Skipper Dermot Greer, Kevin Doyle, Garrett Connell, Shona Leydon, Fearghal Nolan, and Fia O Caoimh, sailing "Yola" off the Saltee Islands in June of 2010. Five wonderful days sailing with Dermot and Sailing Ireland, and we still regularly bump into Dermot and "Yola" in harbours right across Ireland and the UK.
Dermot Greer, Kevin Doyle, Garrett Connell, Shona Leydon, Fearghal Nolan, and Fia, sailing "Yola" off the Saltee Islands in June of 2010. Five wonderful days sailing with Dermot and Sailing Ireland. Fearghal Nolan is standing at the bow.
On very calm days it is possible to manouvre very close to the base of the Great Saltee cliffs where the air is teeming with seabirds.