IRELAND: The Last of the Blaskets

Off the storm-ravaged coast of Southwest Ireland lie the six fog-bound Blasket Isles,* where 14 centuries ago Ireland's Celtic saints built Christian shrines of turf and mud to fend off pixies, pookas, hobgoblins and leprechauns. In 1588, a 1,000-ton Spanish galleon fleeing from the rout of the Spanish Armada piled up on the rocks of Great Blasket Island. Dozens of its crewmen struggled ashore, intermarried with the half-wild descendants of the "saints." From their union evolved the modern Blasket Islanders: tall, rawboned Celtic fishermen who speak little but Gaelic but have the jet black hair and dark eyes of Spaniards.


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