The Blaskets – a last Atlantic outcrop – are a group of seven small islands off the South West corner of Ireland. Exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, the islands have a remarkable history, having supported a small population of around 200 people since the 16th century. The islanders emerged from relative obscurity in the middle of the twentieth century when linguists, ethnographers, writers and photographers began to visit, seeing the islands as a last outpost of pure Irish language and culture, untainted by English rule or the Catholic Church – the islands had no priest, doctor or shop. The islanders responded by putting pen to paper themselves, developing their own literary tradition. Building on centuries of oral story telling they become a literary powerhouse, producing 40 new books just as their culture and community was starting to implode. In 1953 the islands were abandoned.
We were commissioned by Ireland’s Office of Public Works to make a documentary film telling this story, which is shown in the cinema at the Blasket Island Visitors Centre, which is on the mainland, opposite the islands. The film was shot in the Summer and Autumn of 2016. Images from the shoot can be seen below, along with a brief taster from the video.