Heir Island or Hare Island, sometimes called Inishodriscol (Irish: Inis Uí Drisceoil, meaning “Ó Driscol’s island”) is an island that lies southwest of County Cork, Ireland. It has a year-round population of around 25–30. The island is 2.5 km long and 1.5 km wide. It is the fourth largest of Carbery’s Hundred Isles, after Sherkin Island, Clear Island and Long Island, and is part of the West Cork Islands. It is close to Cunnamore Pier, which is its main access point.
At one point in the 19th century the island had a population of around 400. The main work on the island was farm work and fishing. The men would sail up and down the Cork Coast in their Heir Island Lobster boats, fishing and then selling their catch along the way. The women were often left for weeks on end to look after the children and take care of the farms. Upon return the men would turn their labour into farm work, tending to the fields and looking after their cattle. Many islanders, like many Irish mainland people through the decades decided to emigrate, to far flung places like America, Australia, and a bit nearer to home but still a long way away, England. As a result of the emigration, many of the houses were sold in the 1960s and those who bought them often restored the original houses as holiday homes which visitors can see dotted around the island.
Today the island still has farming and fishing going on, as well as the sailing school, the island has a seasonal restaurant and cookery school – The Island Cottage, there is also an art gallery there, Heir Island Retreat, and Heir Island Holistics, Bread making classes also take place at Roaring Water Lodge and there are different artists living and working on the island. The residents are served by the ferry the MV Tresher, which operates through out the year. The post comes in 3 times a week, and shopping can be ordered twice a week in the winter and 3 times a week in the summer from Fields SuperValu in Skibbereen, and will be delivered to Cunnamore before being ferried over to the island and delivered door to the door. Passing Yachts can also avail of this service and have their boats victualed without having to set foot on the mainland and can stay on the visitor moorings on the East side of the island.
The island has many beautiful beaches, interesting fauna, lovely walks, stunning cliffs, and is surrounded by many other islands. It is a very peaceful and safe place. The waters surrounding the area are an ideal playground for ocean lovers and with places like Baltimore, Schull, Ballydehob, Sherkin, Cape Clear, all close and accessible by sea, make it an ideal Sailing and Watersports location. The island is part of the Wild Atlantic Way and is also on the new EU Cool Route.