By Charlotte Murphy
Kilkee, County Clare, is surrounded by some of the most beautiful and spectacular cliffs it is possible to find in all of Ireland; they tower, in sometimes frightening splendour, above the white foam of the Atlantic.
About 3km south of the town, what appears to be a small island stands detached from the mainland. Its sheer sides rise 40m above the sea. This little, lonely outpost, is about a quarter of a mile in length and far less than that in width, its grass cover is windswept, and clipped short by the salt-laden gales of the ever-moving sea.
However, what immediately catches the eye about this seemingly inaccessible large sea-stack is the ruin of what appears, at first glance, to be a house built of stone. It is not a house but is, in fact, the ruins of a little church.
William Wakeman, who wrote his Handbook of Irish Antiqities, (1858), has the following to say about Bishop’s Island, as it has been called for many years. Visiting the island is ‘only to be effected by a skilful climber, and after a long continuance of calm weather’.
He himself must have been on the island because he made an engraving of the church and the clochan, or little bee-hive dwelling which is also to be found there.