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Ireland: Inishbofin

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Inishbofin | Ireland | Europe

[Visited: June 2017]

A short hike up the hill opposite Cleggan has already given me a first glimpse of Inishbofin island, and I am eager to explore the island with my feet. While the morning was full of sunshine, clouds drift in when I step on the ferry. Even though the weather looks fine, we get some serious waves once outside the harbour, and just feeling the boat dive into the sea, and being raised by the waves again, is worth the journey. Inishbofin looks flat when you approach, and when we turn into the natural harbour, we sail past the ruins of the barracks of Cromwell, established in the 17th century. Inishbofin was one of the last strongholds of the Irish Catholic supporters of King Charles, and was conquered by Cromwell in 1653 after Cromwell threatened to bomb the island. It was subsequently turned into a prison for catholic priests arrested in Ireland. Heavy clouds hang over the island now.

Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Coastline with rocks and sea stacks at the northeast side of Inishbofin

Upon arrival at the pier, I decide not to take a bike, but to walk around the island. According to my calculations, it should be possible to combine all three proposed walks into one long one, and just be back before the last ferry returns to the mainland. With the ocean on my left, I walk clockwise towards the west of the island. When I leave the last houses behind me, the asphalt also stops, and I walk a track where I have to climb fences at regular intervals. Sheep with bright colour marks munch on the grass here. When I see an attractive beach, I consider dipping in the waves, but decide against it: time is not my friend today. I reach the westernmost point of Inishbofin, where dramatic cliffs rise from the wild waves below under dark clouds. Across a narrow strait, I see Inishark, or Shark Island. Inisbofin itself was a floating island, moored in its current place when fishermen ended up on the island with fire. Through the fog, they saw a woman with a white cow, which then turned into a rock when struck by the woman. Or, so the legend goes. Inishbofin - Island of the White Cow.

Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): View across the sea towards the east on a fine sandy beach of Inishbofin towards the Connemara

After enjoying spectacular views from the top of the cliffs, I walk back to the trail, and follow the coastline until I reach the end of a track, where I also meet a German girl who had been on the ferry that morning. Together, we walk towards the centre of the island, where she continues to the village for lunch, and I turn left to start the second trail which takes me through central Inishbofin. I find several small lakes, like Lake Tana, and reach the highest point of the island at 89 metres, which offers unobstructed views over the sea towards the mainland, the Connemara mountains, the short runway, and the islands around Inishbofin. I walk through the meadows with more sheep and cows, until I start the third part of my explorative walk around the island. I am back on asphalt now, and leave it for a loop around the northeastern part, which turns out to be the most rugged part of Inishbofin. More small lakes, white flowers, and spectacular rock formations and cliffs defining the wild coastline. The sky looks always more threatening, but it is still dry when I head back to Cloonamore, the eastern settlement on this sparsely populated island. The wide, sandy beach is secluded enough for the waves to be very modest. I cannot resist the temptation, and skinny-dip into the freezing Atlantic, let myself dry up with the wind, and walk the beach, past the houses, close to another bridge and the cemetery and ruins of an old church of St. Colmán before reaching the pier again. It is less than ten minutes before departure time, and the first drops of rain finally start to fall. After the ride back to Cleggan, and a tasty and fishy snack, I am on the road for the long way to Dublin.

Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Road leading to Cloonamore on the east side of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Dramatic coastline on the northeast side of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Rocky opening in the rugged northeast coast of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): West side of Inishbofin with track and wall
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Ruins of Cromwells fort at the entrance of Inishbofin harbour
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Low tide on the rocky coast of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Rocky west coast of Inishbofin with beach
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Walls on Inishbofin marking the land boundaries
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Ruins of small church in St. Colmán's cemetery on the southeast side of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Small lake at the higher parts of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): The western tip of Inishbofin
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): The landscape of central Inishbofin with green meadows and low hills
Picture of Inishbofin (Ireland): Sheep with markings on the island of Inishbofin

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