Immersive exhibit lets visitors experience life on the Blasket Islands

4 Jul 2022

The new Blasket Islands visitor experience Image: Valerie O'Sullivan

The recently reopened Blasket Centre is turning to immersive projections and digital soundscapes to give visitors a sense of island life.

The Blasket Centre in Co Kerry has reopened with a new visitor experience that gives locals and tourists alike the chance to experience the Blasket Islands through the power of technology.

The Blasket Centre originally opened in 1994 through a partnership between the Government and The Blasket Foundation.

Situated in the Gaeltacht village of Dunquin, Co Kerry, the centre overlooks the Blasket Islands. It tells the stories of island life, subsistence fishing and farming, traditional life, including modes of work and transport, home life, housing and entertainment.

Last week, following an investment of €2.9m from Fáilte Ireland, the Office of Public Works and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the centre reopened and launched its new digital visitor experience.

The centre has been designated as a Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point. It offers views of the Blasket Island archipelago and the Atlantic coastline, and is intended to complement a walkway and viewing platform that opened to the public in 2020.

Visitors to the centre can now walk through a digital soundscape that replicates the sounds of a namhóg (small, traditional Irish row boat) trip to the Great Blasket Island. Wall projections and digital interactive features showcase nature on the islands and the journey of the namhóg.

There is also an immersive projection that allows visitors to hear and experience the sea around the Blaskets. Through floor projections and soundscapes of voices, visitors can listen to audio of politicians and locals reaching agreements on the islands.

As the Blasket Islands have a vibrant literary tradition, a writers’ room features a monitor showing scenes of daily life on the island as well as digital representations of the writing process.

The new digital exhibit was officially opened by Máire Ní Shúilleabháin Uí Chíobháin, daughter of famed Blasket author Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. He wrote Fiche Blian ag Fás, a memoir of his life growing up on The Great Blasket Island.

Minister for State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan, TD, also attended the opening.

“I invite visitors to come and discover this utterly unique heritage centre and museum, which is both a window into the past and enables us to keep the extraordinary legacy of the Blasket Islanders alive by engaging with their history, their language and culture,” he said.

“It is a stunning piece of architecture in itself and is now home to a totally new exhibition that tells the story of the Blasket Islands in an imaginative multimedia experience.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.