« BackProminent Blasket Islander passes away

One of the last Blasket Islanders, Dr Mike Ó Cearna has passed away.

The late Dr Mike Ó Céarna. Photo by Marian O'Flaherty
The 94 year old was a prominent member of the Irish American community and dedicated his life to the preservation of the heritage of the Blasket Islands.
Mícheál Ó Céarna was born on An Bhlascaoid Mór to Seán Tom Ó Cearna and Neilí Ní Dhálaigh.
At 16 he left for Cahersiveen before going to Dublin where he worked in Davy Byrne’s pub for eleven years.
In 1947 Mícheál’s 24 year old brother Seán passed away on the island.
This prompted him to write to President Eamon de Valera which led to the Blasket Island’s evacuation in 1953.
Micheál later emigrated to Massachusetts and went on to coach GAA and teach Irish in West Springfield.
He eventually became president of Kerry stronghold, the John Boyle O’Reilly centre.
Mícheál was resolute in his quest to preserve the heritage of the Blasket Islands and in 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from NUI Maynooth for his activism.
He published his memoirs, ‘From The Great Blasket to America – The Last Memoir by an Islander’ in 2012.
Dr Mike Ó Céarna often said, “if you lose your heritage you lose yourself”, a quest he dedicated his life to: