As Ireland, and especially the east of the country, spikes its coronavirus figures into the thousands and nearly 450 deaths, the safest places are the islands off its coasts.
Not a single coronavirus confirmed case has been reported on any of its islands that have no connecting land link to the mainland.
Just one, Achill, which has a road bridge linking it to Co. Mayo, has two reported confirmed cases.
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That still leaves enough open space for Dublin-born comedian David O’Doherty, whose shows have been canceled in Australia, to seek isolation in Achill, his maternal home-place.
While gardai and the Police Service of Northern Ireland patrolled roads leading to holiday resorts over the Easter weekend, the Aran Islands off Connemara, Arranmore off Donegal and Rathlin, Northern Ireland’s only occupied off-shore island, restricted ferry services and appealed to outsiders to stay clear.
Island Ferries, a private company that services the Aran Islands, said no tourists are permitted to travel between them and mainland Galway during COVID-19 restrictive measures.
The company said it is operating vessels for essential/emergency services only to the three islands, Inis Mór, Inis Meáín, and Inis Oírr. About 1,300 residents live on the three islands, but they attract more than 200,000 visitors every year.
Deep-sea fisherman Gabriel Faherty, who also operates a renowned cheese-making business on Inis Mor, said the islanders imposed their own lockdown about two weeks before government travel restrictions were introduced.
He told RTE, “The whole island has come to a blinding halt. Contact with mainland continues up to a point.
“Islanders are well-used to confinement. Any fishing community would be used to that.”
Following a previous weekend in March when visitors crossed the land-link to Achill and ignored non-travel directives from national medical chiefs, the island’s tourism manager Chris McCarthy said visitors should know the island was no haven from the pandemic.
He said two people had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and islanders wanted the public to know the disease had arrived.
McCarthy said, “They want it out there that just because we’re isolated it doesn’t mean it can’t get here.”
Comedian O’Doherty still felt safer there. He called it his “favorite place in the world” and produced a podcast called Isolating which can be accessed through secondcaptains.com.
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