When the valley met the island

It’s a long way from the fertile hills and plains of the Finn Valley to the rugged but beautiful Arranmore Island but east met west recently when a group of the Killygordon-Crossroads based Wednesday Club members travelled to island recently for a day trip hosted by the Arranmore Day Centre.

It’s a long way from the fertile hills and plains of the Finn Valley to the rugged but beautiful Arranmore Island but east met west recently when a group of the Killygordon-Crossroads based Wednesday Club members travelled to island recently for a day trip hosted by the Arranmore Day Centre.

The trip, organised by Wednesday Club supremo, John Butler and his wife Sally, was one of several organised by the club during the summer months and club members had a thoroughly enjoyable experience on the offshore island where they were treated like royalty by their hosts.

There to meet and greet the Finn Valley contingent when they disembarked form the ferry was Nora Flanagan, a lady who’s knowledge and love for her native island is legendary. She acted as tour guide and special host for the day and certainly made the trip memorable.

The visiting contingent were first treated to lunch in the Day Centre and then went on a tour of the many beauty spots including the lakes, the lighthouse, the lifeboat station, the beautiful cliffs and other places of special interest on the island, the population of which is now less than 500.

Although the weather was rather overcast at first, conditions improved in the afternoon and the visitors were treated to a great view of the beauty spots in all their splendour. Nora recounted the history of the places they visited and gave an overview of the progress which the islanders had made over the years from a social, commercial and educational standpoint.

During the evening the visitors were treated to further refreshments in the Day Centre and a session of traditional music and song followed before the party returned to Burtonport in the evening.

Speaking about the trip John Butler said everyone involved had a very enjoyable day and they hoped to visit there again in the future.

“Many of our group, myself and Sally included, had never been to Arranmore before and I must say we were really impressed. Nora Flanagan was a tremendous host and she is a fountain of knowledge about her native place. Everyone in our group had a magnificent time and I would like to pay tribute to the people out there for the great Cead Mile Failte we received. I always heard that islanders were a special people and they certainly proved that by the way the received and treated us. We hope to go back there again sometime and maybe return the compliment to them by hosting them for a visit to our modern facilities here at the Oaktree Park in Killygordon,” he said.

Nora Flanagan said it had been a tremendous pleasure to host the group.

“When you think about it Killygordon is just literally down the road form here yet we know so little about each other. The way of life on the island is entirely different to thing on the mainland and that came across by the stories recounted between our group and the Killygordon-Crossroads people. It was a great pleasure hosting them and we should really be thinking about having more inter activity between us in the future.”

The Day Centre where the guest were entertained has been one of the island’s success stories. Officially opened a few years ago, it has become the social hub of island life and is widely utilised by the elderly of the island for social, medical and education purposes on a regular basis.

“Although the island population is falling, mainly because of the economic recession and EU rules governing the fishing industry, we are still endeavouring to keep the best side out. We have come through bad times before and no doubt will again but the will of the island people to survive despite all the odds, is very strong. We must maintain a positive outlook,” she said.