The Saltee Islands

A visit to the Saltees is thanks to the generosity of the O’Neill family who are the owners of the Islands. Only “one boatman” is allowed to land on the Saltees. The island slopes to a sandy beach on one side and the other sides of the island is surrounded by high cliffs.

Saltee IslandsThe trip to the Saltees involves a boat trip of about 40 minutes followed by transfer to a dingy. You are then rowed to within 20 yards of the shore. Visitors wade through the sea to the beach for the last part of the journey.

The boat will only sail in good weather and the boatman will know the weather conditions one to two days in advance. The boat usually leaves Kilmore Quay about 10.30am and returns after 4pm. Trips need to be booked at least one day but preferably two days in advance. Bring a picnic. It is wonderful.

The Saltees themselves lie off the Wexford Coast just off Kilmore Quay. They are one of the most important ornithological sites in Europe. They are at their most special from the months of April to July when thousands of sea birds are nesting on the cliffs. The variety and activity of the birds is amazing.

Pretty Puffins look pertly out to sea. Fledgling Fulmars perch on the vertiginous cliffs wondering whether to fly. Occasional they are given a push over the top by an impatient elder. Tapping sounds from eggs are followed by the sight of a beak then a fluffy head as chicks emerge. There are both neat and tidy nests and sloppy careless ones. Fussy mothers cluck over their chicks busily feeding them and ‘cool dudes’ just go for a graceful sweep over the sea or dive for their lunch returning with fish in their beaks. In the middle of all this drama the Manx Shearwater takes off every day to The Bay of Biscay returning each night to the cliff in the Saltees.

In early summer seal pups can be seen warming themselves on the rocks watched by their parents. It’s a magical experience for children. Please feel free to bring the birds guide in your cottage with you.

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