The Saltee Islands are situated approximately 5km off the coast of Kilmore Quay County Wexford. The larger island, Great Saltee, is the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland and is very popular with both day-trippers and birdwatchers alike.
The Saltee Islands are a haven for sea birds, nurturing an impressive array of birds, from Gannets and Gulls to Puffins and Manx Shearwaters. The Islands consist of the Great and Little Saltee and are situated approximately 5km off the coast of Kilmore Quay in County Wexford.
The Islands lie on an important migratory route and are a popular stopping off place for spring and autumn migrating birds. The Great Saltee also has a breeding population of Grey Seals, one of the very few in eastern Ireland. Up to 120 animals are present in autumn and up to 20 pups are produced annually.
The Saltees are among the ancient islands of Europe, based on Pre-Cambrian bedrock originating between 600 and 2,000 million years old. There is archaeological evidence that Neolithic man settled there and traces of religious settlements exist. There is also evidence of buccaneering and smuggling. A flourishing period in the history of the islands was from about 1500 - 1800 when they were a base for pirates, wreckers and smugglers.
Since December 1943 the Saltees have been privately owned by the Neale family. The Neale family have always respected this bird sanctuary and treated visiting Ornithologists and bird watchers alike with hospitality. Day visitors are allowed on Great Saltee between 11am and 4:30 pm only. Arranged trips from Kilmore Quay are approved within these hours. Any visitors landing a boat outside of these hours will be asked to leave. The Saltee Islands are both rare and beautiful. All are welcome to see and enjoy.