All about Connemara

Environment, People,Traditions, Movies and Books


The adventure begins in Cleggan, on the pier ... while you're waiting for the departure of the ferry, a nice, local springer spaniel will settle quietly on the lowest step of the pier ladder, emphasizing with playful impatience his hope that some passenger throws an object to fetch back.... If you happen to board during a beautiful summer weekend, you could be surrounded by the guests of a wedding party (the island is very popular for its romantic atmosphere): girls and young men in jeans and sneakers carrying "Italian style" formalwear (yes, this was the tag of a clothes envelope...). Meanwhile, skillful sailors load all kind of goods: from potatoes to cabbages, from soft drinks to Guinness kegs, from toilet paper to fumigators that protect the newlyweds and their guests from unbearable biting midges during the evening hours.
The varied humanity that is all around you is very interesting and will help you to pleasantly spend the half hour crossing time: couples of hikers with friendly big dogs, constantly looking for some extemporary caress, noisy tourists (easily recognizable because almost always absurdly wrapped up in "survival course" style), elderly rickety local grannies going back to the island with the daily shopping (note: after landing they are the most dangerous because, after loading their purchases in the trunk of a battered car, almost run over you with the cheeky nonchalance of an F1 pilot).
At last, you arrive on the island, after having diligently taken photos of the beautiful and picturesque ruins of the Cromwellian Barracks dated 1656 (to your right, immediately before the pylons that mark the entrance of the port). Now you can choose the best way to explore Inishbofin, according to your physical abilities: even if there is a minibus-taxi service, the limited territorial extension will enable you to visit it on foot or -if you prefer- by bikes for hire. Three paths indicated by arrows of different colors will lead to the discovery of the most scenically beautiful points of the island. For birdwatchers in search of the elusive and now rare corncrake the suggestion is to walk to the old wharf and then to follow the yellow route: in the evening or morning (at approximately 8) with a bit of luck, you will hear the croaking call of this bird or even photograph it while hiding among the nettles ...
The small cove in front to Inishbofin House is visually striking; this delightful hotel, managed with competence and extreme courtesy, is perfect for the most romantic couples. The Dolphin Hotel is also noteworthy, it stands right next to the hostel: the kind and friendly owner will provide you with useful information on the best spots for birdwatchers. The "Dolphin" is also at walking distance from the cemetery with the ruins of the St. Colman's Monastery (14th century).
After such a long and demanding day, in the evening you can relax while eating delicious seafood dishes in the restaurants of the hotels or listening to some session of traditional music: the Inishbofin Ceili Band, founded in the '80s and constituted by local artists, during the summer months performs in turn in the various hotels of the island.
For the curious ones: the name of the island - Inis Bó Finne - refers to a local legend, according to which two fishermen who were lost in the fog, managed to land on the shore and lit a fire. The blanket of mist faded, thus revealing an old woman chasing a white cow: when she reached the animal, she was instantly turned into stone after hitting the beast. Since then, a ghostly old woman accompanied by a white cow emerges from the waters of the lake at West Quarter Village every seven years, or -more ominously- whenever it is necessary to warn the population of some impending disaster ... but, with the typical lightness of the twenty-first century, we like to think that the name is justified by the presence of a lot of likeable "girls" that dot the pastures and accompany the hikers with their deafening "mooooo"!

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