Achill is the largest island off the Irish coast with an area of over 100 sq km. Its name is derived from the Latin for eagle, aquila. Because of its rugged mountain and cliff scenery it is a very popular tourist destination. It has been connected to the mainland by a bridge opened in 1887. The village of Achill sound is a t the entrance to the island. Other villages include Keel, Dugort and Dooega.

The agricultural practice of "Booleying" was carried on in Achill up to the 1940s. This was a system whereby livestock was moved to grazing land on the lower slopes of mountain areas during the summer months. Temporary huts , "Booley houses", were used as accommodation during the booleying season.

Prior to the Famine Achill had a population of almost 5,000 but the effects of the Famine were particularly severe because of the reliance on the potato crop and this, coupled with emigration, led to a sharp decline in the population. The "Deserted Village" near Keel is testimony to the effects of famine and poverty. The practice of migratory labour, whereby people traveled to Scotland for seasonal work to supplement the family income, developed after the Famine and led to two particularly tragic episodes in Achill's history, the Kirkintilloch Bothy Fire and the Clew Bay Drowning Disaster.

A controversial figure in the 19th century was Edward Nangle who established the Protestant Mission in 1831 with the purpose of converting the Catholic population to Protestantism. This led to conflict with the Archbishop of Tuam, John MacHale. The mission had its own school, infirmirary, mill and printing press which produced the Achill Missionary Herald. It was closed in 1886, 3 years after Nangle's death.

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