There are many abandoned ghost towns in Ireland that now stand as reminders of times when these uninhabited places were once thriving and full of life.
While “ghost estates” became a thing thanks to the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, many more villages have been abandoned through time and possess a seriously eerie feeling.
Many of the abandoned ghost towns in Ireland are remnants of its past, such as abandoned villages and settlements that date back to the last century and even as far back as the famine era.
This article lists what we believe to be Ireland’s top five abandoned ghost towns.
5. Port – once home to Donegal’s first thriving maritime community
The now abandoned settlement of Port in County Donegal was once a thriving town. It was thought to have been the first thriving maritime community in Donegal.
The city became deserted after so many people left during the famine of 1845-1852, which saw Ireland suffer mass deaths and emigration. Today only a few crumbling cottages remain.
Address: Port, Co. Donegal
4. Clonmines – a great example of a deserted medieval settlement
The town of Clonmines, like Port, was once a busy place but is now one of the best examples of a deserted medieval settlement in all of Ireland.
It was once described in the Journal of the Bannow Historical Society as “a place that has much more history than it has present.”
Clonmines was a small town that began to expand rapidly following the arrival of the Normans. It soon developed a river port, church, monastery and castles, with its main road leading straight to Wexford town.
Nowadays, all that remains of what was once a notable town is ruins, most of which lie on private property.
Address: Clonmines, Co. Wexford
3. Slievemore, Achill Island – home to the ruins of nearly 100 stone cottages
The southern slope of Slievemore Mountain on Achill Island in Co. Mayo dates back as far back as medieval times and is home to the ruins of almost 100 stone cottages.
It is believed that these cottages were at least semi-inhabited as recently as the mid-20th century. Known as “booley” homes, these cottages housed farmers during the summer as their herds grazed nearby.
As to why you should visit Slievemore, the Achill Tourism website puts it best when they say, “meandering from cottage to neighbouring cottage along the ancient track and through adjacent fields with their lazy bed ridges and furrows is a journey back in time.”
Address: Slievemore, Achill Island. Co. Mayo
2. Inis Cathaigh (Scattery Island) – an uninhabited island
Inis Cathaigh, or Scattery Island, is an uninhabited island in the Shannon Estuary just a mile from the town of Kilrush.
Nowadays, Scattery Island is an abandoned monastic settlement containing the ruins of six churches and one of the highest round towers in Ireland. The monastic settlement was founded in the early 6th century by the famous St. Senan.
Inis Cathaig was once home to 141 people, but due to social and economic decline, the population declined rapidly in the early 1900s, leaving the island uninhabited since the 1970s.
For those wishing to experience what Scattery Island offers, ferry trips and guided tours are available seasonally.
Address: Inis Cathaig (Scattery Island), Co. Clare
1. Great Blasket Island – comprised of six Atlantic Islands
First on our list of the top five abandoned ghost towns in Ireland is the Great Blasket Island, which was once inhabited for centuries by a small but close-knit Irish-speaking population.
This community mainly lived a traditional life focused on fishing, weaving and farming. The islands have been deserted since 1953 when the last remaining inhabitants were evacuated to the mainland due to adverse weather.
Nowadays, much of the infrastructure of Great Blasket Island remains, and for those wishing to learn about the islands and their history, a visit to the Great Blasket Centre in Dunquin is well worth a visit!
Address: Great Blasket Island, Co. Kerry
That concludes our article on what we believe to be the top five abandoned ghost towns in Ireland. Have you ever visited any of them, and are there any other abandoned ghost towns in Ireland that you think deserve a place on our list?