The Saltee Islands

No fear of getting lost on the Saltees

On Wednesday 24th July we finally got around to visiting the Saltee Islands which are located just off Kilmore Quay Co Wexford.

Visiting The Saltees has been our ‘To Do’ list for so many years it’s embarrassing how long it has actually taken us to plan a day out on this Bird lovers paradise!

The Great Saltee Island

Better late than never though so we booked our passage with Declan Bates who runs regular boat trips out to the islands – (You can book by texting him on +353 (0) 87 2926469) and made sure to check the weather in advance. There is practically no shelter on the Saltees (nor toilets/ shops/cafes etc) so a wet day might be a bit – well, miserable. We packed an easy to eat picnic lunch, water, suncream, a cap for the head, fleece and we wore good runners.

Visiting The Saltees

We arrived at Kilmore Quay about 15 minutes before set off and there we got chatting with some of our fellow passengers who included a research team from UCC who have been “on Great Saltee satellite tagging Gannets as part of @uccBEES project looking at where these birds go to feed and on what”..

View Tweet Here https://twitter.com/SamBayley2/status/1151493402174861312?s=20

The Saltee Islands lie 5 km off the coast of Kilmore Quay and are uninhabited save for the one house on the Great Saltee where the Neale family, who privately own the islands, are in residence for a couple of weeks/months a year and thus, when their flag is flying, visitors are requested to afford them privacy and not to approach the house. In fact the family came out to meet us (well, I think they had a visitor on the boat) with their very cute dog as we landed, having transferred from the bigger boat into 6 seater dinghys to bring us the last few metres in to land – watch those waves – some of us got wet, others didn’t… I suggest bringing a small towel with you in case you need to dry off before you go trekking about the island.

Transferring to the the Dinghy to reach shore

Day visitors are allowed on the Great Saltee between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. only. Arranged trips from Kilmore Quay are approved within these hours only so make sure you book with approved trip providers such as Declan. Discover more about

Arriving at The Saltees – The Flag is Flying

Myself and my partner @WhatsOnWOW set off to the right (about a 30-40 minute walk) to where Cian (the very cool young fella who works on the boats) had directed us for the Gannets. Of course the research team had already set off that way as they were there to remove the tags that they had previously attached to some of the Gannets as part of their research. As we approached we could hear the clacking (and the smell) of these magnificent seabirds grow louder but were quite blown away by the sheer spectacle that confronted us upon turning a corner… Thousands of nesting Gannets with loads of the swirling and swooping around – like a scene from a movie!

That WOW Moment…

Ash Bennison explained the process to us and we watched as they then released the birds – one has to throw them from the cliff rather than let them down on the ground as they are rather angry little birds after being held – watch the video to see what we mean!

Ash Bennison shares some insights
Releasing a Gannet

Well! Who needs Puffins?!! Ok, so we had originally come in the hope of seeing some Puffins but we were ( as feared) a little too late, although there were some Pufflings out to sea apparently but too far for us to see.

No Puffins were home..

The Gannet display was truly wonderful so we were more than happy to find a comfortable rock and have our lunch – what a view!

Lunch on The Saltees

Since visiting The Saltees I’ve discovered that Ash had quite a part to play in discovering that a colony of puffins in Ireland have adapted their behaviour to drastically reduce the effort of searching for food by using the strong tidal currents in the Irish Sea & saving up to 46% of their usual energy usage.
Ref: Tidal drift removes the need for area-restricted search in foraging Atlantic puffins – Ashley Bennison , John L. Quinn , Alison Debney and Mark Jessopp. Read the full article here >>

View Tweet https://twitter.com/Ash_w_b/status/1148868683374235648?s=20

As part of my current Organic Horticulture & Biodiversity course that I am studying I had prepared a metre sq measuring twine so I could lay it down and see how many different species were enclosed. As you can see there are a lot of plants for such a small space and I look forward to identifying all of them next week in class. 😉

Biodiversity Saltees
Metre SQ Biodiversity Check

To finish.. I 100% recommend a trip to the Saltees for anyone who has been thinking about it or for those who didn’t know they existed – there are many! There are a number of boat operators that are approved for trips including Declan Bates whom we went with (Thanks for the recommendation Sam @TweetingGoddess) and also Nick Furlong 087 7738595 (recommended by Hook Rural Tourism Ltd @HookTourism) amongst others.

Bye Bye Saltees 😀

Enjoy Our Gallery of Saltee Snaps from our Trip – Roz x