West of Ireland #4: Inishbofin

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There’s only one place to get the ferry to Inisbofin (Inis Bó Fionn – Island of the pale cow) and that’s the seaside village of Cleggan. You can also get ferries to the Aran Islands here as well as find good stables for pony trekking around the beach – but not a lot else. Getting out there without a car usually entails a long walk (8km from Letterfrack), hitchhiking (which in our experience came to much the same thing) or a taxi ride. A taxi will cost you around €30 but if there’s a few of you it’ll come to the same as a bus fare anyway.

A student ferry ticket will cost you €15 and an adult one €18. It only takes about twenty minutes and leaves you in the main village. If you’re staying in the hostel then it is twenty minutes walk up the hill from the village but there are plenty of mini-bus taxis lingering on the harbour if your bags make the slope look daunting.

The hostel is clean and friendly if a little odd. We got a good deal on the price, getting nearly half off when we booked the second night getting us both nights for €30. Dorms are gendered however which left my group splitting up again. The rooms are a little cramped, ours had eight bunk beds squished into it but as it had a spacious dining room, a comfy sitting room and a well stocked kitchen we forgave them and did not spend much time upstairs anyway. It was in this kitchen I made what would later become my famous hostel lentil curry.

There is a good pub, a fifteen minutes from the hostel, down by the harbour. The next morning we walked to the beach. Now there is only one beach on Inisbofin where it’s safe to swim and even then you should probably be a strong swimming. The island is surrounded by strong currents. But the beaches are flat, long and pretty to walk on. There were attractive sand dunes where we spent an afternoon reading and picnicking. There are some attractive rocky outcrops for walking and a Cromwellian Fort.

There aren’t many (any) shops on the island so it’s best to do your shopping before you get on the ferry.

Be prepared to be surprised by the restorative properties of this quiet island. We spent two nights there, doing little more than talking, reading and playing board games (when we weren’t finding old acquaintances in the pub – it’s a small world but even smaller island) but we left it feeling better then we’d arrived which sometimes is all you want.

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