RTE Television

Ar An Oileán

Series Overview:

Everyone in Ireland says they live on an island. But for the people of Cape Clear and Inis Meáin, this claim has a very different meaning.
RTÉ's new four part series, Ar an Oileán, which begins on Monday the 12th of November at 7.30pm on RTÉ One, will explore as Gaeilge what it means to live on a REAL island; the difficulties, the inevitable heartaches but also the beauty and the sense of community that only island life can offer.

Filmed over the course of a year on the stunningly beautiful islands of Cape Clear off the south west coast of Cork and Inis Meáin, the middle of the Aran Islands, the series will offer a fresh perspective on the extraordinary everyday lives of those who live there.

In the context of ever-dwindling populations of all of Ireland's islands, the series is a fascinating insight into REAL life there beyond the mainland. Despite the difficulties, the people of these islands and the 'blow ins' are determined that their home will not go the way of the Blaskets and others before them.

The story is told by the islanders themselves, like Máirtín Ó Méalóid, who waves goodbye to his children for a week at the pier every Monday as they go to school on the mainland and Steve Wing, the English born manager of the world famous Bird Observatory on Cape Clear. Gabriel and Sarah Casey moved to Inis Meáin from Clare with their two daughters to immerse themselves in the Irish language and culture, and Niamh Ní Dhrisceoil is a young teacher in her twenties who commutes every week from Cape Clear to Ballincollig where she teaches. They are joined by their neighbours and friends who opened their extraordinary lives to the cameras for a year.
Why do they do dedicate their lives their island? And can they succeed in building a sustainable way of life on the islands for the generations that come after them?


Episode 1

School Days
It is Autumn 2011. Gabriel and Sarah Casey are on the pier in Doolin with their two daughters. They are moving to Inis Meáin for the year. The Caseys want to learn Irish and see this as an adventure. Sarah will commute between the Burren and the island in order to fund this year long experiment.
Two hundred miles south Niamh Ní Dhrisceoil, a secondary school teacher, is wrapping up her summer on her native Cape Clear and heading back to school. Her love of her homeland takes her there every weekend but the need to earn a livelihood brings her to the mainland.

Steve Wing is an Englishman who manages the Bird Observatory on Cape Clear. He is clearly passionate about his work and where it has taken him. Conversations about the comings and goings of birds are everyday among the islanders and its visitors.
Dutch woman Elisabeth Koopmans, learnt Irish in university in the Netherlands. In a surprising twist of expectations, she begins to teach some of the local Inis Meáin women how to spin yarn.

A Wedding
Local boy John Leonard is getting married to Helen, who came to Cape Clear as a summer student. It's the first wedding on the island in many years and everyone is out to celebrate.
Eleanor Uí Dhrisceoil, was Helen's bean an tí and gets sentimental as she prepares for the big event.

Episode 2

Everyone in Ireland says they live on an island. But for the people of Cape Clear and Inis Meáin, this claim has a very different meaning.
Winter has arrived and the challenge of living on a small island is apparent - beautiful landscapes don't register in the dark.

On Cape Clear, Pat C and Seán Curly are up in the darkness to get the cattle to the mart in Skibbereen. Will a tough day's work be well rewarded? The island cattle are considered top quality animals.

Máirtín Ó Méalóid drops his children to the boat for their weekly commute to the mainland for school. While it is difficult to say goodbye every Monday, he feels it is best that the island children go to the mainland for their education.

Sarah Casey is shopping in Doolin for some specially requested treats for the rest of her family back on Inis Meain. The experience of living on an island is going well for the Caseys but the goodbyes are never easy.

On Inis Meain, Elisabeth is asked to help in the church. She feels this is a positive sign that she is part of the community.

Christmas approaches. Niamh Ní Dhrisceoil is keen to get the last boat home. Like most Irish families, they have their own traditions. Their's include making sure the priest gets off the island on Christmas Day.

Episode 3

Everyone in Ireland says they live on an island. But for the people of Cape Clear and Inis Meáin, this claim has a very different meaning.