|Native name: Na Blascaodaí|
Blasket Islands as seen from Dunmore Head
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.
The six principal islands of the Blaskets are:
- Great Blasket Island (An Blascaod Mór)
- Beginish (Beiginis)
- Inishnabro (Inis na Bró)
- Inishvickillane (Inis Mhic Uileáin)
- Inishtooskert (Inis Tuaisceart)
- Tearaght Island (An Tiaracht)
The Island of Inishmore was rented to the Ferriter family in c. 1290, with an annual rent of 2 hawks. This lease ended in 1853. During the First World War, the population of the island was approximately 200. Beginning in the 1920s, the population went into decline due to much emigration.
They were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Irish-speaking population, and today are part of the Gaeltacht. The inhabitants were forcefully evacuated by the government to the mainland on 17 November 1953.[why?] Many[quantify] of the descendants currently[when?] live in Springfield, Massachusetts,[not in citation given] 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 particularly from writers and linguists such as Robin Flower, George Derwent Thomson and Kenneth H. Jackson. Thanks to their encouragement and that of others, 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, based on the erroneous idea that the next parish west of the islands would be the United States. The actual next parish west of the Blasket Island would be located in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
- Stagles, Joan and Ray, The Blasket Islands: Next Parish America. Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1980 (new edn. 1998).
- Flynn, Anne-Gerard (4 September 2015). "Irish president's tribute read at Blasket islander Michael Carney's Springfield funeral". Springfield Republican. Springfield, MA. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
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