Saltee Islands – the colours of May

Kilmore Quay

This time I visited Great Saltee island in May, a month earlier than I usually do.  Kilmore Quay marina is busy as always, and Razorbill, the boat we will travel on, is moored at her usual place near the slipway.

I have a couple of minutes to take a few pictures. Love the name of this fishing boat 🙂 Once again I remember my good intention to purchase myself an inflatable float vest… Next time for sure!

Kilmore quay

The sea is smooth, and our 5 km trip lasts only 15 minutes.

“All people young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the unborn generations to come see and enjoy.”    Michael the First

Great Saltee

Michael the First, then farmer’s son Michael Neale, bought the islands in 1943.

“It was never my intention to make a profit from these islands.  Day visitors are welcome to come and enjoy at no cost.  Bird watchers will always remain welcome.”  Michael the First

From the bird’s view Obelisk is in the shape of the Maltese Cross. Each side of the Obelisk has inscriptions, and on the front, under the image of the Prince, it reads:

“Nothing is impossible to the man who can, will, then do. / This is the only law of success. This monument was erected by Prince Michael the First as a symbol to all children that be hard work, perseverance, their dreams and ambitions  may also be realised”.

Saltee Islands

The Chair, or the Throne, is dedicated to his mother.

” This chair is erected in memory of my mother to whom I made a vow when I was ten years old that one day I would own the Saltee Islands and become the First Prince of the Saltees. Henceforth, my heirs and successors can only proclaim themselves Prince of these Islands by sitting in this chair fully garbed in the robes and crown of the Islands and take the Oath of Succession”. Michael the First

Saltee Islands

The Islands have a long history and they used to be inhabited and farmed. There is a rumor that the Islands were accidentally made by the Devil himself while he was being chased by St Patrick. The evil creature took two handfuls of rocks from the Comeragh Mountains between Lemybrian and Kilmacthomas,  and then dropped them on the run in the Celtic Sea.  St Patrick built a causeway, just a mile from Kilmore Quay, to connect the islands to the mainland. It is dangerous to swim around the St Patrick’s causeway because of the very strong riptides. When the tide is in, the causeway is almost completely submerged. Don’t try to walk in the shallow water – the current is very strong and will sweep you off your feet.

But let’s get to the point. I am here to see the puffins 🙂

Saltee Islands



This trip was different, and I only saw four puffins. Every year they return to the same place.

I took off across the island to see the Gannets. The island looks beautiful in May. Bluebells and Sea Campions painted it in blue and white.

Saltee Islands

Saltee Islands

I saw two Eurasian Rock Pipit couples in exactly the same place as the year before.

Saltee Islands

Rock Pipit

I also saw unusually many Cinnabar butterflies, all over the place. On a closer inspection, they were all dead! This one was being consumed by a spider…

The path turned to the edge of the cliff. This is a young Lesser Black-backed gull.

Gracious Guillemots don’t mind posing for a picture.


Saltee Islands

I am approaching the highest point of the island. An almost vertical climb will take me to the land of Great Black-backed gulls. More pictures next week.

Thank you for your company! You are the best.

Saltee Islands

Here you can find some of my previous post about Saltee Islands.

2014, 2015, 2016 Have a wonderful week!


  1. Among that natural beauty the throne looks magical. But yes, I also would love to go to see the puffins, they look like gentlemen with coloured ties n_n

  2. I remember your fabulous posts about Saltee Island from last year and it’s lovely to see it again. It was interesting to note the differences you found in bird numbers May and the different flowers in bloom. Prince Michael’s Chair must be a big attraction to visitors. too. Your photos are wonderful! 🙂

    1. Thank you Millie. I came to the island too early. Most of the puffins had no chicks at that time yet, and stayed in the water. If I could, I would wait another two-three weeks. Nevertheless it was a great opportunity to see the spring colors, the bluebells and campions. They are gone by the end of June, my usual time for visiting. xx

  3. Wow! A whole other trip to Saltee Islands and those beautiful and unique Puffins. Thank you, Inese. I am grateful for each of these photographs, including the Throne which looks like a pillar from a different direction.
    Those bluebells and flowers in endless fields are so lovely. Everything was above the scenery I find here. The Moors are amazing!

    1. Thank you Robin! This place is such a joy to visit. When I walk past the throne I always whisper a word of gratitude to the owners for preserving this sanctuary and letting us see a glimpse of wonder.

  4. These are breathtaking–thanks so much for sharing your creativity and talent with all of us. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thank you! I too love puffins. I came to the island in May, which was a bit too early. June would be perfect as they have their young in June and bring them food often.

    1. Thank you! I have no idea what happened to the butterflies. I saw some 20-30, and didn’t know they were dead until I had a closer look.

    1. Thank you Andrea! The history of the islands is fascinating. Prince Michael the First was a man of many dreams, and he made them all come true.

  5. I remember last year’s post and the weather wasn’t as nice. Beautiful photos, Inese. I love the birds and the flowers and, of course, the views of the sea. How lovely that the island are open to visitors. Michael the First sounds like an imaginative and visionary person.

    1. Thank you Diana! It was a lovely quiet trip. The islands look beautiful in May – now I know that 🙂
      Michael the First did a great job preserving the birds. It is so very nice that the family allow visitors.

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