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Exploitation and celebration of the heritage of the Irish islands

Stephen A. Royle


The Irish offshore islands have been losing population for many decades. Their remaining inhabitants face difficulties in competing in most economic sectors against larger scale mainland producers with smaller transport and other costs. Thus islanders have often turned to the service sector to aid their economy. One asset is the islands' heritage, often relicts of an Ireland no longer extant in more accessible areas. Some islands have heritages that are cherished but they relate to landmasses now no longer occupied. Should the heritage of the still-populated islands be exploited as a valuable economic resource or should it instead be protected, celebrated but not exposed to the dangers and falseness of overexposure to the tourist gaze? However, the latter strategy might have a damaging economic cost. The article explores this issue in relation to a number of the islands off Ireland's west coast.

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