"Inis Bofin - The Island Least Traveled" Inishbofin by WhispersWest

Inishbofin Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 3 photos

Off The Beaten Path But Worth The Trip

The offshore islands of Inishbofin (Inis Bó Finne), Inishlyon (Inis Laigleán) and Inishark (Inis Áirc) lie roughly 8 km of the Northwest Connemara coast. Of the three, Inishbofin is the largest measuring approximately 5.5 km long by 3 km wide. It is also the only one inhabited today.

It becomes clear, as you board the ferry at Cleggan, that you are about to enter a different plane. Inis Bofin, once largely overlooked in favor of the Arans, is becoming more frequented by tourists looking for a glimpse of traditional Island life. There are 200 full time residents of Inis Bofin. Their daily language amongest themselves is salted with the Irish language.

As the ferry approachs the harbor of Inis Bofin, you will see a Cromwellian Fort. This fort was once a prison for Catholic Priests. Sucj is the trteasure trove of history that is here on Inis Bofin.

Inis Bofin is also known as a riparian paradise. It is a breeding area for many species of birds. The rarest or most threatened species breeding on the island at present are the Corncrake, which have been nesting and breeding there for many years.

There are many animals which flourish on Inis Bofin. It is because of their traditional farming methods and clear, unpolluted waters. Seals who live off her coast will often frequent the rocks along her shore for sunning and socializing.

There are only two ways to explore Inis Bofin, on foot or by bicycle. This allows you time to really see the varied landscape, remnants and ruins of centuries past and to enjoy the quiet.

THe Heritage Museum has many interesting items on display, such as the contents of a traditional cottage, old farming and fishing implements, old photographs and writings, accounts of local tragedies such as drownings and famine, as well as a myriad of other items. It is well worth a visit whilst in the village.

Inis Bofin - Traditional Music & Crafts

Traditional music has been part of Inishbofin culture for centuries. In the earlier part of this century musicians would meet in each other's houses and play music for the night. Certains houses on the island would have dances every so often. Couples would get together to form sets and half-sets (a form of dance with 8 and 4 people respectively).

Knitting has been part of island life for centuries both as a pastime and as a small craft industry. In the earlier part of this century the wool used for the knitwear was hand spun by the islanders. Dyes used on the wool would have been sourced locally. Seaweed and moss would be the most common dyes used then. During these times the locals would not have used very extravagant patterns you find today.

Traditionally, willow was grown on the island and made into different types of baskets. Many people kept a small garden of "sally rods" (willow) for their own use. Still in use today are the donkey "cleaves" used to carry turf home from the bog

Today, the music is alive and well, as are the crafts. The Inishbofin Ceílí Band was formed in the earlier part of the 1980's. The band plays the local hostelries for the duration of the summer and they carry out some touring troughout the winter months. They have toured Ireland, Germany, Britain and the United States. Rusheen Pottery & Crafts shop has been open during the summer months since 1995 with the wares being crafted throughout the long winter evenings. In the spring of 1999, an artist took up residence on the island. They produce handmade jewelery and watercolour prints. Jackie Jefferson feels it is important to keep the old crafts alive. She makes a variety of baskets including fireside turf baskets and the traditional "sciob" which was used for straining and serving potatoes. Jackie also makes colourful handmade candles.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Slow Paced, Traditional Life, Unspoiled Landscapes
  • In a nutshell:Inis Bofin - Off The Beaten Path
  • Last visit to Inishbofin: Jun 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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