Banner: Knocknarea at Sunset.
Dernish Island
Dernish Island from Bing Maps.

Dernish Island

To all the friends who met me there
With hearts so warm and true
To each and all a fond farewell
Sweet Dernish Isle adieu
I see the boat upon the strand
the silvery wavelet too
O’er which we sailed that summer day
Sweet Dernish Isle adieu
Sentiments that hold true for any island wherever people lived.

Dernish on the OSI map from 1911.
Dernish on the OSI map from 1911.

Tho beautiful island of Dernish is located at Carns, off the coast of Moneygold, close to Ahamlish, in Carbury, the ancient kingdom of North Sligo. The island, always considered to be a liminal, fairy-haunted region, is uninhabited.

The reefs on the west side of Dernish Island.
The reefs on the west side of Dernish Island.
Sweet Dernish Isle Adieu, a 19th Century emigrant poem celebrating Dernish Island in County Sligo.
Dernish Island viewed from Milk Harbour.
Dernish Island viewed from Milk Harbour.

This chamber resembles the large megalithic structure at Listoghil in Carrowmore, and also the monument just east of Cairn K at Carrowkeel. There are some scratchings, possibly dating from the Iron age, on one of the slabs. The floor is flagged with a large flat slab.

Jewellery designer Martina Hamilton explores her recently discovered ancestral roots with Dernish Island just off the Atlantic west coast of Sligo in Ireland in this short film directed by Susan O'Keeffe. Cinematography is by Peter Martin, with sound and music recording by Luke Devaney of Blue Room Studios in Sligo. The song Sailor was written by David Lawlor and Malcolm Hamilton.

The Seership of Dan Quinn.—

'On Connor's Island (about two miles southward from Carns by the mainland) my uncle, Dan Quinn, often used to see big crowds of the gentry come into his house and play music and dance. The house would be full of them, but they caused him no fear. Once on such an occasion, one of them came up to him as he lay in bed, and giving him a green leaf told him to put it in his mouth.

When he did this, instantly he could not see the gentry, but could still hear their music. Uncle Dan always believed he recognized in some of the gentry his drowned friends. Only when he was alone would the gentry visit him. He was a silent old man, and so never talked much; but I know that this story is as true as can be, and that the gentry always took an interest in him.'

View from the  summit of Knocknashee.
A fine house on Dernish.

Knocknashee is also in fact, one of Ireland's largest Bronze Age hillforts, having three huge ditches running around the hill, one at the top, middle and bottom. Building neolithic chambered cairns on hill-tops within stone enclosures in the west of Ireland seems to have been at least as common as building monuments within enclosures in the Boyne Valley There is also a ring of splintered limestone chips running in a ring around one of the cairns, a feature also found at Cairns Hill west, Listoghil, Queen Maeve's cairn and Knocknarea north.

The view to Benbulben from the main street of Dernish.
The view to Benbulben from the main street of Dernish.

There is another cairn and enclosure on the summit of Muckelty Hill just a few kilometers south east of Knocknashee. For more about fairies and sites around Sligo click Here.

The strand connection Dernish to O'Connor's Island.
The strand connecting Dernish to O'Connor's Island.