Text // Michael , Video // Derek
May bank holiday weekend 2012
While planning Survivor Paddy for this year, it became clearer that we were going to do something different than the past few years of hiking. After discounting Inis Shark island off Inis Boffin in the Atlantic Ocean due to a lack of firewood, we finally settled on a three-dayer camping and ‘surviving’ expedition to Inchagoill island in Lough Corrib.This island, steeped in ancient history, has been completely uninhabited since the late 1940s (http://tinyurl.com/jb8wuls). It is covered in a thick deciduous forest. This gives Inchagoill a primordial feel which is enhanced by the diminutive, ancient monastic ruins at its centre. These ruins date back to the 5th Century AD. A small trail leads through the forest, largely following the shoreline of the island and the sense of wilderness there is strong. For this year, we decided that only minimal food supplies could be brought along in anticipation of our fly-fishing skills landing a few wild brown trout to cook up each night for dinner. On the Friday afternoon, the group were periodically ferried across from the mainland 7 km away through choppy waters and a strong lake wind. The advance party located a nice secluded campsite in a clearing on the north-west shore of the island. Here, our two boats could be safely anchored when not needed, at a small, sandy and sheltered inlet adjoining our camp.
The first night was fairly cold with temperatures falling just below zero. This was likely more hard on the two of us sleeping in improvised hammocks. On the next morning our attention was turned to setting up a more comfortable and functional camp. While some of us collected firewood, built a wicker-like partition around the camp and explored the island wilderness, others took to the lake to try and catch some wild fish for the evening’s feast ahead.
The seven brown trout caught during the day were loosely marinated in some scavenged herbs and baked in the embers of the fire for dinner. On the second eve we enjoyed the same again, only this time we had an accompaniment of nettle stew and more surprisingly, some improvised toffee for dessert. This was made from melting left-over sugar on the hot stones by the fire. The elusive pheasant, which some of us had spotted roaming the island, unfortunately, did not make the menu despite our best efforts.
After a campfire dinner on the second eve, it was announced by Benny, unbeknown to the rest of us, that a treasure hunt had been arranged. This impromptu event, resulted in two slightly drunken and well-fed groups hectically traversing the four corners of the island in an attempt to solve the clues given. The prize was to win some otherwise prohibited chocolate-based contraband. Plenty of craic and madness ensured and we all eventually made it back to camp to spend the rest of the eve by the fire. Later on, through the darkness, we took a more subdued hike to pay our homage to those ancient souls buried at the monastic ruins and contemplate their existence on the island. This was followed by a more jovial gathering at the beach on the western shore to see the night out.
There was a slightly melancholy atmosphere on the Monday morning as we packed up after making this wonderful island our home for three, albeit short days and nights, and returned to civilisation. Cognisant of the importance of leaving the camp as we found it, we dismantled our wicker partition,the fire ring and the other human imprints we left to allow the wild processes of nature reclaim its rightful place. All in all a great Survivor Paddy, where everyone made their own contribution through their various skills for the collective benefit of all present.