Achillbeg Island lies off the coast of Co. Mayo, just south of Achill Island. The island covers 326 acres, and consists of two low hills with a sheltered valley and a beach in between. The island's wild and beautiful scenery has been shaped by the wind and strong sea currents, as the Atlantic pounds the exposed rocky coastline.
Before the ravages of the Great Famine, the island's population was almost 200, but by the early 1960s, barely a sixth of that number remained and the school enrolment was down to single figures. Despite the recent introduction of electricity and a phone line, the end was in sight, and the remaining inhabitants moved out in 1965.
Much of the land is still owned by the families of those who left, and many surviving islanders live on Achill within sight of their old homes, but Achillbeg is now a haven of peaceful solitude. Several old cottages have been renovated as holiday homes, and the electricity link remains to service both these and the automated lighthouse. But the rest stand silently, abandoned under the wide western Mayo sky.
This book is the first study of this beautiful island, and has been painstakingly researched using the memories of former residents as the primary source. The author has previously written 'Rails to Achill', a history of the former Westport - Achill railway which closed, also published by the Oakwood Press and available on this site.
Achillbeg: The Life of an Island
- Author: Jonathan Beaumount
- Publisher: Jonathan Beaumount
- Availability: In Stock