The recent heat wave and calm seas has allowed a group of rocks known as Bills Rock, situated 11Km south of Achill Island to be filmed. The cameras caught the magnificent rocky island outcrop from the air for the first time and were also able to go through a double sea arch and record it.
Few visitors ever go out to the Rock which can be seen on the horizon from Achill Island. And of those that do, even fewer have sailed under the arches as the sea, tide and wind have to be just right to allow it to be done. The unusual weather system that Ireland has experienced over the past two weeks has allowed this to happen and we now can show this magnificent location in all its beauty.
The rocks are an important habitat for wildlife and hosts colonies of puffins (7.1% of the total Irish population), storm petrels, kittiwakes, guillemots and other gulls. A large number of seals also live on the islands. It is now a designated SPA (Special Protection Area).
It gets its name from an unusual source, a Danish sea captain by the name of Mathias De Bille. He was the captain of a Danish Navy frigate called the Bornholm that departed from Copenhagen on 14th December 1781. As the ship rounded Ireland’s north coast on 17th January 1782 a hurricane blew up and drove the Bornholm south along the west coast of Ireland. With its foremast and bowsprit gone the frigate was virtually uncontrollable and but for a tremendous feat of seamanship would have been lost at these rocks and under the treacherous cliffs of Clare Island. Somehow De Bille guided his ship to the relatively calm waters of Melcombe Bay near Newport in Co. Mayo. The weary captain had lost several of his crew during the storm and was horrified to discover that the remaining crew members were now stricken by malignant fever. De Bille also caught the fever himself and was befriended by a local merchant, John McLoughlin, who treated him in his own home. De Bille died there on St. Patrick’s Day 1782. He was buried in Newport with full military honours.
Achill Tourism has recently launched The Achill Maritime Trail, a series of 19 story boards that are placed at various locations around the island and tell many stories of Achill’s long history with the sea. As well as the story of how Bills Rock got its name, the trail highlights tales of Grace O’Malley, ancient ship wrecks, the basking shark fishing industry and many more tales of triumph and tragedy. The video has shot on 27th June 2018 and features views that have never been seen before. It was filmed by Sean Molloy who travelled there with 2 local experienced local fishermen Gerry Hassett and Martin Kane.
Check out Achill Tourism for more wonderful images and events in the area.