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Achill Island and the Kirkintilloch Bothy Fire Disaster

Having visited Achill on a number of occasions I have learned a lot concerning the history, customs and traditions of the Island and its inhabitants. On my first visit I was greatly impressed by the natural, unspoilt beauty of this, the largest Island off the West Coast of Ireland. This tourist’s paradise includes places of remarkable scenery like the Atlantic drive, the Cathedral Rocks, Minaun Heights, Keem Bay, Keel Strand, Slievemore, the Deserted Village and Golden Strand. Having visited these and other places of interest on the Island I just knew I would have to return to Achill as soon as possible.

As a result of many subsequent visits I have discovered that Achill’s greatest asset is not her breathtaking scenery or historic ruins, but her people. Their warmth, openness, friendship and ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ have to be experienced to be believed. Their genuine interest in making the visitor feel at home has left a lasting impression upon me. There is a great sense of community and care for each other among the native Islanders. This has been especially evident during times of difficulty.

History records that there have been many such times of adversity, when the Islanders suffered severe hardship. Tragedy is no stranger to Achill. The Great Famine of 1845-1849 devastated the Island and took many of her parishioners. A large number of those who managed to escape death from starvation or disease emigrated. Consequently the Island was robbed of many of her finest young men and women. Many of Achill’s families also suffered the cruel scourge of eviction. They were forced to either leave the Island or wander its rugged highways and byways seeking shelter from the inclement weather blowing in from the Atlantic
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