‘There were twenty-five hours in my day then … any job or challenge that the ocean or the harbour might offer was an option. I undertook them all.’
Des Lavelle was born on Valentia Island in County Kerry in 1934, surrounded by the wild Atlantic waters. Known to the world for his passion for the nearby Skellig Islands, Des has led a fascinating and varied life, but his heart forever draws him back to Valentia. His wide-ranging memoir takes us on an extraordinary journey from an idyllic childhood on Valentia, through a short-lived ‘permanent, pensionable job’ with the Western Union Telegraph Company to a rich and fascinating life where the sea always offered opportunities.
When the movie Ryan’s Daughter needed marine advice in 1968, they came to Des. In 1974 a North Sea oil rig sought him out to help with a giant safety net, and a few years later his special skills came to the fore once more as Telecom Eireann laid their cables under the waves. From sea-faring on his beloved 32ft Beal Bocht to pioneering deep-sea diving, running a ferry, campaigning for his beloved island outpost, crewing with the Valentia lifeboat and travelling to far-flung places, Des Lavelle shares his ups and downs on his road to becoming a renowned author and expert on the historical and wildlife riches of Kerry’s intriguing Skellig Islands.
Island Boy is the compelling story of a man born and raised in Valentia and of a unique life that he continues to live to the full.