The Saltee Islands

84 images Created 9 Jan 2012

The Saltee Islands, situated off the south coast of Co. Wexford, Ireland, are a haven for seabirds and other wildlife.

Their simple, low-slung landscapes, four or five kilometres of the Wexford fishing village of Kilmore Quay belie their layers of history, folklore and bizarre stories. On approach, there are few warnings of the extent of the islands' abundant wildlife, but more than 220 species of birds live, nest, or migrate through the Saltees, including gannets, fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins, shearwaters, razorbills and guillemots, all completely unfussed by human visitors. Curious grey seals eat fish scraps from the hands of fishermen, and stalk daytrippers who walk the cliffs - their big doe eyes staring up plaintively from the azure waters below.

Nothing is ordinary here. So I didn't write anything ordinary.

The Saltees have their own Prince, Michael the First, now succeeded by his son - Michael the Second. An extraordinary man, Michael Neal - brought up on the nearby mainland, he bought the land here in the 1940s, and declared himself ruler in answer to a vow he made to his mother around 1920. After a protracted bureaucratic battle with the authorities, Prince Michael was left alone to rule.
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