The superb wild magic of Eire’s Western Isles

Eoin Warner is among basking sharks off the coast of Clare.  Image: George Karbus

Watch out what you purchase your youngsters or nieces and nephews, you possibly can find yourself setting in movement a lifelong ardour, and even a profession.

A easy wildlife jigsaw puzzle might have been essential for wildlife documentarian Eoin Warner, who has simply spent three years making a three-part TV sequence in regards to the wildlife wonders of Eire’s Atlantic islands.

Wild Islands of Eire sees Eoin crusing a 140-year-old Galway prostitute from Rathlin Island previous Mayo, Clare and Kerry, and on to West Cork.

And watching this sequence, you may be proper there with him for each slap and sparkle of winding waves, for the fascination/horror of seeing fluffy little guillemot chicks, aka jumplings, taking leaps of religion off cliffs, and for the actually breathtaking pleasure of swimming . basking sharks up shut.

Bantry born Eoin who will flip 47 in Might began filming this sequence Crossing the Line Productions in September 2019. Although manufacturing was considerably delayed by covid it additionally took so lengthy as a result of they wished to see every little thing from white-tailed eagles at Corks Garinish Island to grey seal bulls battling for supremacy over the Mayos Inishkea Islands and humpback whales off the Blasket Islands.

Eoin’s love of nature is so evident all through the sequence and if the crystal clear scenes and shut up pictures of animals and birds do not draw you into this journey then his quiet pleasure over the blonde bombshell on Rathlin or delight within the see a nursery of chicks bouncing round will actually.

Eoin Warner is amongst basking sharks off the coast of Clare. Picture: George Karbus


That blonde bombshell with the superb blue eyes is a beautiful golden hare and when requested about this sentence, Eoin laughs and admits he did not use a script: I assume for a extra intimate environment.

Eoin traveled on the red-sailed Galway hooker, the Naomh Sineach, however had a digicam crew come and go to movie the assorted phases of the journey

The digicam crew typically spent weeks on finish getting hit by storms to seize pictures. There was a complete staff of devoted professionals who went out of their option to seize this wildlife footage.

I realized to sail as a toddler, however have not sailed since. So I actually fell in love with crusing yet again on a ship of that age and magnificence, you might be pressured to decelerate and be on the mercy of the wind. And it is virtually liberating in a means as a result of you need to take care of the wind that you’ve got. Then off Fastnet we have been doing seven knots and pushing the boat to the restrict. However it offers you a complete new appreciation for individuals who had no alternative however to journey with the wind and who lived and nonetheless reside on islands.

The sequence strikes from our northernmost island, Inishtrahull, to Tory, Achill and the Aran Islands, so it appears cheap to ask whether or not Eoin has a favourite island. He lavishes reward on a complete group of islands, from beautiful Inishkeas to the seabird and purple deer colonies of Inishvickillane. He cannot resist itemizing a lot of the different islands he is visited on the journey, nevertheless it’s the uninhabited ones he likes greatest.

There are few wild locations left on this planet and they’re so lovely and so wild as a result of they weren’t there. You’ve gotten a thousand grey seals on Blaskets seashore and they’re there as a result of they weren’t there. That liminal zone the place land meets sea is gorgeous to have a look at, and when persons are gone, nature takes it again.

Unsurprisingly, an analogous query about which animal meant probably the most to him on the journey triggered him to record virtually each creature he noticed.

Nonetheless, the basking shark scenes are fairly spectacular and he is thrilled to see them thrive.

It appeared that each time I used to be instructed there have been basking sharks in an space I’d come and they might go.

However then he heard about this superb courtship habits of basking sharks off the coast of Clare in September and we bought there and there have been tons of of basking sharks.

They have been doing these concentric circles and we have been freediving. We stayed out of the circle to offer them their house. After which I circled and realized that one other circle was approaching us and there was a basking shark coming proper at me and I simply needed to stand nonetheless. It handed straight beneath me and I felt its dorsal fin caress my chest. It was scary however so thrilling on the identical time.

And from the most important of our wildlife to the smallest and most shy there may be nothing however amazement and admiration.

A gray seal amongst seaweed in the Wild Islands of Ireland.  Image: George Karbus
A grey seal amongst seaweed within the Wild Islands of Eire. Picture: George Karbus


Most of us would possibly class stoats someplace with weasels and even mice and never see a lot to have a good time in them, however the scenes the place a mom stoat actually ripples by a pocket of Achill wooden would earn them a number of followers.

This ball of power that’s at all times in movement with black, shiny swimming pools of eye mischief is proven leaping and bouncing in opposition to a superbly chosen musical background by Kila.

It isn’t all a wow, what an attractive documentary anyway.

The footage from the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties of fishermen slaughtering hundreds of basking sharks is so visceral and stunning it virtually makes you wish to cry “sufficient”.

Greater than 9,000 basking sharks have been killed in Keem Bay in 15 years. The violent killings have been a 24-hour operation and it is simply terrible to see the boys put all their power into stabbing a usually serene 30-foot-long fish that writhes and writhes in agony because it tries to outlive.

Even right here today we aren’t executed with the slaughter of wildlife. Eoin notes that whereas we now have the suggestions within the latest Residents’ Meeting report on biodiversity and we now have wildlife guidelines and legal guidelines, they’re typically not overseen or adequately funded or carried out.

He mentions the issues of tangled networks. These are precisely what they sound like massive sections of netting which might be sunk with weights and left overboard to indiscriminately entice any creatures within the space. Whereas they’re meant to catch shrimp that migrate alongside the seabed, there is not a lot to cease seals, stingrays or porpoises from getting trapped and dying.

I used to be speaking to a neighborhood fisherman in Schull and he is aware of a man who has tangled nets. His boat has been breaking apart for the previous few weeks, so he hasn’t been out gathering them, so these nets are simply fishing, fishing, fishing on a regular basis and the creatures they catch are simply dying… rotting.

Eoin says he is by no means in opposition to the fishing business as a complete: I am a realist and coastal communities have a proper to fish. However we aren’t the one species right here, we’re a part of the biodiversity and these creatures have each proper to be right here too. That is what frustrates me a lot. There’s an enormous bycatch with these networks and we’re nonetheless utilizing strategies which might be utterly barbaric and unethical and unsustainable, nevertheless it’s only a fast buck, like.

Humpback whales off the Blasket Islands.  Image: Nick Massett
Humpback whales off the Blasket Islands. Picture: Nick Massett


That is a part of what he is attempting to do with this Wild Islands of Eiredocumentary sequence make individuals conscious of what we now have proper right here on this nation and handle it.

Individuals should farm or fish, however you are able to do it in a nature-friendly means. We’ve got to offer animals and nature house, that is what frustrates me… once we do not give them their justifiable share. We’ve got lower than 1% nationwide parks on this nation and I’d like to see each farm in Eire have a nook for nature. It is like having hundreds of nationwide parks everywhere in the nation.

Eoin, who has two kids, Tristan and Ferdia, aged 12 and 13, desires to make sure that all kids have the chance to develop up appreciating and respecting nature.

I hope individuals fall in love with it and, by falling in love with it, shield it. She attributes a lot of this about her to her dad and mom in her personal life.

His father, killed within the Whiddy Island catastrophe when a French tanker exploded in Bantry Bay in January 1979, cherished nature and chook watching. And Eoin noticed some outdated images of him sheltering a Galway prostitute, so once they have been cruising in Cork, going to Garinish Island to movie a bit about seagulls, he made certain to take a look at Whiddy too.

It was very emotional and lovely, and Dad would have had a good time, I am certain.

Eoin’s mother died in March final 12 months whereas filming this sequence.

She would have cherished it, she was my primary fan and she or he cherished docs.

And it was his mom who gave him that puzzle, talked about earlier, with the animals of Africa when he was about eight or 9 years outdated, so I at all times dreamed of going to Africa.

Sunset over the Skellig Islands
Sundown over the Skellig Islands


That dream got here true this 12 months, precisely one 12 months after her mom’s loss of life, when Eoin and her household visited Africa for a trip. The date was a acutely aware choice to honor her. Whereas there, the Warners realized extra about Lapalala Wilderness College, a conservation charity that teaches kids about native nature and biodiversity.

This faculty goals to assist kids uncover the true worth of the pure world’s biodiversity and to determine and nurture Africa’s future conservation champions.

We do not have something like this in Eire in these adolescence, these are when you could have the chance to make that reference to nature.

Eoin notes that whereas we’re so extremely fortunate right here, each particular person you meet in Botswana, for instance, is so happy with the character they’ve. And in Eire we now have the chance to do extra and we’re undoubtedly changing into extra conscious of ecotourism and sustainability. However it works greatest when it is from scratch in addition to top-down. And also you hope documentaries like these affect or encourage individuals to make issues from scratch, to guard our wildlife.

A white-tailed eagle treads water.  Image: Sean Murray
A white-tailed eagle treads water. Picture: Sean Murray


Episodes II and III chronicle the journey from Mayo to Clare, together with the turquoise waters of Connemara, larks and Eire’s solely native reptile.

Then proceed to County Kerry and the Maharees Islands, summer time residence to Arctic Terns which might migrate 50,000 miles a 12 months.

Grey seals and white-tailed eagles are current because the journey continues from Tralee Bay to Blaskets and Bantry Bay and swims with the magnificent blue shark within the heat Gulf Stream waters off Fastnet Rock.

  • Episode I of Wild Islands of Eire airs Sunday 23 April at 6.30pm on RT One and RT Participant

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