Omey Island Ireland
The Island of Omey is situated approximately a 20mins drive north of Clifden in North West Connemara on Wild Atlantic Way. Omey Island is situated near the village of Claddaghduff, just off the N59 (Clifden-Westport Road). Omey Island can be accessed by car or walking within certain times of low tide. Omey Island can be crossed via a narrow channel from the Mainland when tidal currents allow at low tide in certain times of the day.
To walk the length of Omey Island takes an approximately 2 hours. Omey Island is low lying and the area is approximately 220 hectares. The population of Omey Island during the early to mid 19th century was approximately 400 persons at its height. Sadly the island presently is non habitant. The only last habitual resident at Omey Island died recently in 2016. The Archaeology of Omey Island can date back towards Neolithic, Bronze age, early Christian and early medieval ages. Another period of history can be traced back towards the pre famine and post famine periods during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The landscape and geology of Omey Island consists of lush flowery grass, sweet scenting heathers, lichen covered rocks and fences and pink tinted granite that consists of a unique feature to the Islands bedrock. Omey was not always an Island from evidence gathered due to the Islands topography rock structure of the Island which is identified as Omey granite which expands to include the neighboring town lands on the mainland. Further along between the island and Claddaghduffs black seashore at low tide, the small low islet of Turf Island is revealed, which is an extension of the blanket bog (SAC) of the connecting mainland that further extends beneath the sand to Omey. With high sea levels c.4, 000 years ago, the sea broke through and altered the mainland’s connection with Omey.
Such as like alot of West of Irelands, Islands, Omey has no Trees because of the Salt carrying winds from the shore water. It is difficult for trees to survive, although some wind curved shelter planting is in indication and bell shaped fuchsias nurture along the roadside boundaries close to the entrance to Omey Island. The Geography of Omey sand is shaped from sections of processing of the local pre-historic pink-like Omey granite and calcium carbonate that evolved by the sedimentation of the shells of shellfish and snails.
The Prehistoric Archaeological evidence of Omey includes the presence of Shell Middens, Copper Alloy Ringed Pin (early medieval), 12th Century religious Kite Broach, Neolithic Polished stone axe head and a counter sunk Neolithic hammer. During the 14th to 16th Centuries we have evidence that Omey was raided and occupied by Norman and Gaelic lordships with the likes of the O’Flaherty’s and Grace O’ Malley clan.
During the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries the population of Omey Island was diversified and changed. The reason for the movement of people throughout Omey is to do with famine, changes in climate and economy which in turn caused agriculture and farming methods altering the growing and the harvesting of crops throughout the populations history. During the mid to late 20th centuries we have further population declines on Omey Island as public services such as schools were transferred to the mainland due to the changes of tidal currents over time. Today Omey Island annually hosts horse racing and growing visitor numbers throughout the Tourist Season.