After our stay in Galway, our class is heading south towards the Blasket Islands. In preparation for what we'll see, each person in the class is doing some research on a few different subjects. My first topic is the Blasket Centre, or Ionad an Bhlascaoid in Irish. This Centre is located in the mainland town of Dunquin (Dun Chaoin in Irish), on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. The Blasket Centre is dedicated to telling the stories and history of the people who lived on the Blasket Islands until 1953 when the island was evacuated. While the Blasket Islands are uninhabited now, visitors can take a ferry to spend time on the islands, exploring the abundant open spaces there. The Blasket Centre seeks to enrich this experience with historical information about the Blasket People, and their time on the island.
The Blasket Centre is set up much like a museum, featuring all the information one might want to know about the Blaskets. This includes the lives of the people there, both as fishermen and as farmers, and information on their way of life and traditions. The people on the Blaskets spoke exclusively Irish, and much of their literature is still celebrated today as some of the finest examples of Irish language literature. The Centre allows visitors to see some of the writings for themselves, and gain a better understanding of their importance. There are also several exhibits on the flora and fauna of the islands, their unique ecosystems. All of this creates an environment where anyone can gain a better understanding of the life and history of the Blasket Islands.
Beyond a museum, however, the Blasket Centre creates a community for the lovers of the Irish language and the Blasket Islands. Each year, they host the 'Comóradh Bhliantúil an Bhlascaoid Mhóir,' or the “Annual Blasket Commemoration.” This event usually has one central theme, and last years was the Irish Language, and its state in the present day. Many authors and experts were invited to come lecture and share their views with the public. This years theme has not yet been announced, as the event takes place in October. This keeps the Blasket community alive, and helps to propage knowledge and interest in this unique culture.