Next weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the evacuation of the Atlantic island Inishark, located 15km off the Galway coast. The remaining islanders will reunite in Claddaghduff on Saturday to mark the passing of their unique way of life.
The English-speaking community on the island was on the decline years before the last living inhabitants loaded their belongings and livestock onto boats on October 20, 1960 to start new lives on the mainland.
Of the dozen or so remaining ‘Sharks,’ many are still angry over the Irish government’s neglect and its decision to relocate the six remaining families to Connemara instead of replacing their inadequate pier.
"I was the last man to go to school on the island and I've fantastic memories of Shark. I still class it as home and I think about it every single day and I often dream about it. It's always very emotional for me when I go back and see all the deserted houses there,” Martin Murray told the Independent.
Murray, who was 14 at the time of the evacuation, said the day he left the island was one of the finest the isolated outpost had seen in years.
"It was a beautiful day, like a fine July day. The Atlantic was like a lake. You could almost have walked over to Cleggan on it. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. Everybody was carrying everything they owned down to the boats. There were wardrobes, pets, saucepens, everything you could think of.
"I was on the last boat to leave and I remember going back to my house for the final time. It was so strange, so emotional. I noticed that I couldn't hear the familiar sound of dogs barking for the first time ever. I knew it was the end and looked back at the house I grew up in for the last time, knowing I wouldn't be coming back."
His brother, 70-year-old George Murry does not have the same fond memories of the island as his brother.
"I've been back to Shark once since I left, about two or three years ago. It was terrible and brought back some painful memories. I was delighted to get off the island. It was no place for any human being to live."
The gathering for the remaining islanders is expected to include a mass, a screening of Kieran Concannon's powerful TG4 documentary Inis Airc -- Bas Oileain, containing touching archive material of the evacuation day, and a dinner in Clifden.
"This is very important. I'm one of the last islanders left. When I'm gone there'll be nobody left with a living memory of Inishark as a living island,” said Martin Murray.