The island of Inishbofin is a mellow , balmy place , quite different from the mainland , and as such worth a visit on any Ireland tours. It is a bit of a hidden gem. There are day trips from the little village of Clifden in Connemara.

The island is more fertile than the mainland with sheltered sandy beaches and a general softness to its contours.

The only jagged features are “the Stags” which are rocky outcrops off the West side of the island. There is a great vantage point to watch seals basking on the shore.

The high moorland covered in heather gently descends to the placid “Lough Boffin” which is rimmed with rustling water iris and bullrushes. There are a good number of swans around the lough.

The known history of the island starts in the seventh century when Saint Colman arrived from Iona , after a quarrel with Rome over the method of calculating the date of Easter !

Nothing remains of the monastery he founde but the ruins of a thirteenth century church stand on the original site.

Grace O’Malley , the pirate queen , is supposed to have fortified the island for her fleet.

Also on the island are the extensive remains of a sixteenth century castle used by Cromwell when he used Inishbofin as a sort of concentration camp for clerics. The most chilling reminder of this is visible in the harbour and known as “Bishops Rock”. It was here that Cromwell chained the one unfortunate cleric and watched as the tide came in slowly and drowned him.

If you find yourself in Connemara on tours of Ireland Clifden is certainly worth a visit and Inishbofin is only a short ferry journey away. I have almost convinced myself that it is not so much of a hidden gem as a must see attraction !