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Inishbofin Island

Inishbofin, “The Enchanted Island”, is set in the wild splendour of Connemara amid the magical beauty of sea, cliffs, and mountains which make up the Galway-Mayo coastline. And indeed the island is enchanted, not just by the panoramic blessings of its setting, but also by thousands of years of mythology folklore and faith, which have shaped the lives of its people.

The island’s English name “Inishbofin” is derived from the Irish “Inis Bó Finne”, or in plain language, the “Island of the White Cow”.  In the year 668 Saint Colmán founded a monastery on Inishbofin, and it went on to survive until the 10th century. It is also home to the ruins of Cromwell’s barracks, constructed in 1652 at the entrance to the island’s harbour. During the terrible years of his campaigns, Inishbofin was transformed into a penal colony for Catholic clerics, and terrible atrocities were wreaked on the islanders and on the unfortunate clergymen he rounded up. One unfortunate bishop was tied to “Bishop’s Rock” at low tide, and slowly drowned in full sight of his fellow priests as the waters rose.

Inishbofin is home to “Dún Gráinne”, the remains of a fort used by the legendary Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley. It is also home to a second Celtic fort which dates all the way back to 1000 B.C. The island is believed to have been continuously inhabited for up to 10,000 years.

With its westerly position and its protected harbour, Inishbofin was one of the most important shipping havens on the West coast of Ireland in the days of sail. It was one of the last Royalist strongholds to fall to Cromwell’s army, and was garrisoned by them until the end of the century. In later years Cromwell’s forces used it as a staging post for Irish men and women who were being transported to the West Indies. During these years they cut down all the trees on the island for use as building materials and fuel. Because of the salt-enriched air, however, the trees were never able to re-establish themselves, and the island is bare of trees to this day.

Getting to Inishbofin

Inishbofin Island is accessed by way of ferry boat from Cleggan Harbour. The "Inishbofin Island Discovery" ferry makes several sailings to the island each day during the summer months, and one sailing each day during the winter months.

Where to stay

Inishbofin has a wide choice of places to stay including self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.

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Inishboffin is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Letterfrack and Renvyle if you are travelling north, and don't miss Cleggan, and Clifden, if you are travelling south.

Things to do in Inishbofin Island.

  1. Inishbofin has 3 fabulous looped walks, all with stunning views of the Islands beautiful coastal cliffs, coves, harbour, and bathing spots. Enjoy.
  2. For such a small Island, Inishbofin has numerous beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters. An excellent place to spend the day to unwind. Several beaches on Inishbofin have been awarded the ‘green coast award’.
  3. With some of the clearest waters in Ireland, Inishbofin is an excellent place to dive. Inishbofin has it’s own dive centre. John Mc Cabe, the owner and operator is a PADI Master scuba diver trainer, emergency first response instructor, and qualified PADI professional.
  4. Inishbofin is a breeding area for many species of birds. The rarest or most threatened species breeding on the island at present is the Corncrake. Other species of bird found breeding of Inishbofin include Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Fulmers, Shags, Puffin, Guillemots, Common Gulls, greater and lesser Black Backed Gulls, Manx Shearwaters, Herring Gulls and Choughs.
  5. Many species of wild flowers can be seen on Inishbofin Island throughout the year. Possibly one of the best ways and times to see these flowers is to join Leo Hallisey’s Summer School which is run every year for two weeks in July. The Summer School is generally aimed at teachers wishing to catch up on extra-curricular activities.
  6. Seal colonies can be found in two areas on and around Inishbofin Island. The first one is based on the island near the Stags Rock. A second colony can be seen near the island of Inishgort that is situated approximately one mile West of Inishbofin Harbour. This colony can be accessed only by boat and this may be the reason that seals congregate in this area. The only visitors they receive are the fishermen setting and hauling their lobster pots.

Inishbofin Island Map




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