The Island of Gola was once a prosperous fishing village of two hundred inhabitants. Fishing was not an industry that could be operated year round.
In the off-seasons, most of the able-bodied men, girls, and children left for rural Scotland. For six months they were farmers, domestic workers, and construction workers.
In the twentieth century, people on the island began migrating to rural Scotland and never returned to the island life.
The island comes alive in the Summer. Children play in the area, families bring food for picnics and swim in the pristine waters and beaches. There are no public facilities on the island. A small store provides snacks and drinks during the busy season.
Our group, The Ireland Writing Retreat, went on a four-hour hike around the island. We had lunch with Eddie and his wife, the only inhabitants of the island.
Our transportation to Gola Island
An abandoned church
Many buildings are left abandoned. Most of them are still in their original condition.
Unbaptized Catholic babies cemetery
Unbaptized Catholic babies were not allowed to be buried with other Catholics. They were buried in this cemetery. People leave hand- painted colored stones in remembrance of their souls.
Hand-painted stones left behind by visitors
A white cross in the children’s cemetary
A memorial to two residents who died in 9/11
Farmers leave their goats and sheep on the island all year to graze. The blue stripe on the sheep indicates the owner. The sheep lead the life of luxury. They can eat and wander as much as they like. The farmers come to check on them when the weather permits.
Tourists come on the island for the hiking adventure. A map and marked posts provide the directions. You must be careful. There have been hikers who have fallen over the cliffs.
The island of Gola in the distance