Sherkin Island Marine Station



Contact Information:
Sherkin Island Marine Station
Sherkin Island
Co. Cork

Tel: +353 28 20187
Fax: +353 28 20407


© Sherkin Island Marine Station 2008


Sherkin Island Marine Station was founded in 1975 by Matt Murphy and his late wife, Eileen and is run by Matt and his family. Sherkin Island is situated one-and-a-quarter miles off the south-west coast of Ireland, off-shore from the fishing village of Baltimore. The Marine Station is located on the north-west end of the island on 16 acres. The Station originated in 1975 from a small laboratory of 140 sq. ft. to a now large complex of 5 laboratories and a library of some 100,000 books, journals, reports, reprints, together with an herbarium of plants and seaweeds.

The aims of the Station are:

1. to establish baseline data on the marine life of the coastline from Cork Harbour and Bantry Bay and to record the natural changes in the plant and animal communities.

2. to raise the level of awareness of the marine environment in Ireland and the potential of the sea to create jobs.

3. to help introduce young people to nature via Sherkin Comment and through educational programmes.

The marine station is staffed by volunteer scientists who come to the Station and normally stay from April to November. They receive full board and a small allowance.

We have undertaken long-term monitoring surveys and projects which include the rocky shore, plankton, otters, birds, underwater, macrofauna, rockpools, insects and plants. The Station is recognised as having established the longest monitoring programme and most extensive database on phytoplankton in Ireland. Sherkin Island Marine Station receives no State aid for its research. In many ways this has been our strength. We can decide on any research which we believe is necessary. There has been no outside influence on the Station since it was founded in 1975. We look for advise on scientific matters from scientists worldwide, many of whom have been to Sherkin.

Sherkin Island Marine Station organises the major environmental conference in Ireland every April/May. Since 1975 the Station has organised 36 conferences and workshops on the mainland and the island.

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For seven years, Audrey Murphy, the youngest of Matt Murphy's children, visited primary schools where she gave talks on the environment and the sea. Her visits to primary schools consisted of a slide show of sea creatures found around Ireland. The programme was set up to give children a small glimpse of the sea which might spark further interest.

The Station is now concentrating on producing a web-based quarterly newsletter on nature and the environment, entitled "Nature's Web". We are continuing to add to the Station's collection of colouring book publications, designed specifically for children. We are also involved in preparing boxes of educational material which are sent to a number of primary schools around the country.

Audrey has written a couple of booklets, based on a character "Grainne Gull". These are entitled "Grainne Gull Visits the Seashore" and "Grainne gull Visits the Countryside", and are presented to each school, along with other books on the sciences.

The Station also runs an annual Environmental Competition for Primary School Children in Munster, giving primary schools a further opportunity to focus on the environment.

All schools in Munster have, for a number of years, been receiving "Sherkin Comment", our environmental newpaper. At present we print 24,000 copies and frankly we do a lot of praying that the advertising will meet our costs. So far the Lord is on our side!

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For many years, from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, Sherkin Island Marine Station held an exhibition at Connolly Hall, Cork, with attendance figures at each one-week exhibition in the region of 8,000. The exhibition included over 20 tanks containing marine animals such as lobsters, crabs, butterfish, cod, starfish, anemones, etc….

There is now a permanent and free exhibition about Sherkin Island Marine Station, situated at The Islander's Rest, Sherkin Island, Co. Cork.



1978 An Taisce award for practical conservation

1982 Honorary Life Member of the Institute for Biology of Ireland

1987 Hall of Fame Award - West Cork Festival

1987 Metropole Award - Cork Speakers Club

1987 Carroll's West Cork Awards - Enterprise

1990 Environment Merit Award - The Institution of Water & Environment Management of Ireland

1991 Dept. of the Environment Awareness Award

1991 Environmental Endeavour Award

1993 October Cork Person of the Month Award

1996 Dept. of the Environment Awareness Awards

1998 Environmental Endeavour Awards (Audrey Murphy's School Visits)

1998 Echo Person of the Month (October)

1999 Award Winner in the AIB Better Ireland Awards - A Local & Provincial Winner

2003 Lord Mayor's Award, Cork City Council

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© Sherkin Island Marine Station 2006