A Month on Inishbofin Island, Ireland

The journey to Inishbofin was spectacular. The bus to Cleggan took us through some breathtaking landscapes. It’s unbelievable how much greener the green in Ireland is! Along the way we found this guy (see below)! After I took this picture, another traveler asked if I felt I had “captured my self portrait”. What do you guys think?

 

My Irish statue likeness?

The bus dropped us off in Cleggan next to a pub off the pier called Oliver’s. We bought our tickets for the ferry, and I ordered a pint of Bulmer’s to pass the time until we departed for the island.

The view along the ferry ride was incredible! As we splashed our way through choppy water toward the island we’d call home for the next month, we took in the sights of hills, homes, and lighthouse. As the boat turned into the harbor of Inishbofin we passed right by an incredible structure known as Cromwell’s Barracks. I knew immediately what my first adventure on the island would be. Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos from the ferry since I was holding Aubre’s luggage so she could get some footage.

On the ferry to Inishbofin!

Cromwell’s Barracks as seen from the ferry!

Once off the boat, we met our new hosts: Anthony and Julia. They walked us up the hill to our new home, Lacey’s Farm, and prepared a bite to eat and a much appreciated cup of (wonderful, Italian) coffee. We chatted a bit to break the ice and get to know each other better before being shown the farm. They had two polytunnels and multiple gardens filled with robust plants and delicious veggies of all sorts! The place was incredibly beautiful and full of life!

Lacey’s Farm

View of the harbor from Lacey’s .

View of Cromwell’s Barracks and the lighthouse from Lacey’s.

Anthony insisted we take a stroll to start getting to know our way around the island and to take in some of the local views. He suggested we meet at the East end of the island where they have a couple cottages that they let out, gave us incredibly detailed directions, and sent us on our way. The walk was pretty much exactly what you of think of when you imagine yourself walking down a country road in Ireland (see Taking the Low Road East below for photos).

After making our way back to Lacey’s Farm we had plenty of time to settle in before meeting Anthony and Julia for dinner at a place called Murray’s. The food was delectible, the Bulmer’s was everything I wanted it to be, and the company was incredible. Anthony and Julia were a delight to chat with and get to know. They were really easy to connect with and had wonderful stories to tell.

After a wonderful meal (which they had graciously treated us to), they bid us farewell but encouraged us to stick around for the live music that would be starting soon. Irish pub music in an Irish pub? With an Irish cider in my hand? I felt like I’d been waiting for this moment my entire life.

What a memorable first day/night on the island. Aubre and I walked back to Lacey’s and slept soundly.

Looking back, our time on the island wasn’t measured in days so much as it was marked by adventures and events. And so with absolute disregard to chronology, I give to you:

Alex and Aubre’s Inishbofin Adventures!

 

The Time We Went to the West End

Our first real exploratory outing was to the West end of the Island. With our hearts set on watching the sun set over the great Atlantic ocean, we followed the low road west as far as it went. While some last minute sunset-spoiling clouds rolled in, we still had a grand adventure that left us with beautiful pictures and fond memories.

 

The road west,

Inishark, the abandoned island.

Seascape speckled with little islands..

A secret little beach. We were actually told it’s very, very dangerous to swim here!

Memorial to 3 Inishark men who drowned in the channel between Inishark and Inishbofin, Easter Sunday 1949, 11 years before the island was evacuated.

The old road.

Approaching the ends of the earth.

Impressive landscapes all around.

Staring west over the Atlantic.

Looking North, we could see more of Ireland on the horizon.

Aubre doing her thing!

 

Taking the Low Road East

While we never went to the east end of the island just to sight see, we saw incredible sites every time we went that way. Whether we took the low road east to check up on the cottages, or to sneak around to south side of the harbor, we’ll never forget the gorgeous views along the way.

Taking the low road east. That’s mainland Ireland in the background.

Inishbofin countryside, Inish Laighean (smaller island), and mainland Ireland in the background.

St. Colman’s Church and cemetery (ruins), also with Inish Laighean and mainland Ireland in the background.

St Colman’s Church and cemetery (ruins).

Dumhach beach, looking southeast toward Inish Laighean with mainland Ireland in the background.

Dumhach beach, looking east toward Inish Laighean with mainland Ireland in the background.

East end bay with mainland Ireland in the background (view from the cottages).

Looking down the high road toward the east end bay with mainland Ireland in the background.

The Time Anthony Moved a Boat Into His Yard

Our host Anthony is in the early stages of turning an old trawler into a glamping site! After having been pulled out of the bay, it sat a while in front of the local church. The relocation of this now landlocked behemoth was no easy feat, and it was exciting to watch! I look forward to seeing this project in its completed state!

Hooked up to the tractor, and ready to go!

Anthony’s future glamping site is finally at Lacey’s!

The Trek to Cromwell’s Barracks

Cromwell’s Barracks was one of our greatest adventures and undertakings on the Island of Inishbofin. Reaching the old fortification was the very first quest had we set for ourselves (I mean, it’s the first thing you see when you’re entering the harbor), and one of the last things we accomplished. It took multiple attempts to reach the 16th century fort, but when we finally made it, it was surreal!

Our trek truly begins with this last view of Inish Laighean. After an hour of walking, we’ve gone as far east as we can, and we now have to turn south.

Here’s a glance at the southern coasts of Inishbofin we hiked around to get to Cromwell’s.

No matter where we looked, theĀ  view was breathtaking!

From atop this peak you can see where we started in town on the right, and our destination on the left.

A glimpse at the side of the island.

There were some incredibly deep ravines along the coast, begging the question: “how close is too close?”

Aubre doing what she does!

It’s getting closer!

An abandoned cottage in the countryside.

Always getting closer, but ever out of reach?

So close! It’s right there!

After all this time, we can look across the harbor and see right where we started!

Here we are at last! Cromwell’s Barracks!

Truly an impressive site!

From every angle!

Who will be the first one in?

Inside the famous fort!

Look at all that floor space! This place definitely had a nice open air feel to it! ; )

It was really amazing exploring the various rooms and views of such an impressive structure!

Aubre’s a natural explorer! How did she get up there?

Oh, That’s how.

Until next time Cromwell’s, until next time.

If you want more history on this cool looking fort, click here!

Storms that Huffed and Puffed

During our stay on the island, Inishbofin experienced 3 big wind storms. The worst of which had consistent winds in the 50 mph range with gusts up to 93 mph. I had never before experienced such ferocity in nature, and it honestly put me on-edge. There were a couple times throughout the night I feared the roof would be torn away! The winds did extensive damage to the farm, completely destroying one of the polytunnels and damaging the other. The beautiful gardens were severely wind bitten — nothing was left untouched.

The winds had died down considerably before I felt safe enough to go outside and snap this.

The winds from the first storm completely decimated this polytunnel. and the plants within.

We later took off the remaining plastic so that a subsequent storm wouldn’t further damage it. You can see how twisted the metal frame was by the extreme winds.

While the second polytunnel was also damaged, it was much more repairable.

The Inishbofin Food Festival

We were fortunate to be present for Inishbofin’s annual “Bia Bo Finne” food festival. Lacey’s Farm hosted the final stop of the “Trail of Food”, an event where foodies travel from house to house along the island, tasting local homemade cuisine, and getting a little insight into local history and traditions. Lacey’s farm served a Rhubarb Almond Orange Cake!

The rhubarb almond orange cake in all its delicious glory! (not prepared by us)

The rhubarb almond orange cake ready to serve with Lacey’s homemade jam!

Rhubarb almond orange cake and Lacey’s homemade jam.

We were told to expect 40 people! We served tea alongside the treat.

We had seating available inside by the fireplace,

and even more seating outside with a view of the Inishbofin harbor!

The Inishbofin Set Dancing and Trad Weekend

Another example of fortuitous timing, Aubre and I happened to be on the Island for a music festival! Over this weekend, Aubre and I experienced more local music and Irish set dancing than we’d ever dreamed! For those of you who don’t know, Irish set dancing is how Aubre and I first met each other back home at a local establishment called The Dubliner Pub in good ol’ St. Paul, Minnesota! It was truly a wonderful and delightful weekend! An Irishman was supposed to send me a video he took of us dancing, but never did. Since most of the time we were simply enjoying the events instead of recording them, all I have for you is this example of why Aubre is the Youtuber and not me!

The Time We Dined in a Double-Decker Bus

As the title suggests, the island is home to Inishwallah: a double-decker bus turned into an Indian/Inishbofin cuisine serving restaurant!

This double-decker bus turned restaurant serves a blend between authentic Indian and Inishbofin cuisine!

Here’s the interior! It was a peaceful and meditative place with a view of the sea!

You wouldn’t believe how amazing this smelled!

Aubre ordered the black bean & beet burger with spicy mayo! I’m not generally a fan of non-meat burgers, but this just may have opened my mind to them!

I ordered some sort of lamb curry that so good I burned my mouth eating it, because I couldn’t wait for it to cool down!

That Time I Tried Guinness for the First Time

One night, while Julia was in Dublin, Anthony invited Aubre and me out for a drink at The Beach (a local pub). I don’t recall how it arose in the conversation that I had never before tried Guinness (for those of you who don’t know, I typically don’t ever choose to drink beer), but somewhere between Anthony and Aubre it was expressed that drinking a Guinness in Ireland was kind of a thing that you just had to do. Anthony somehow tricked or talked the bartender into giving us a free sample of Guinness, alongside the drinks that Anthony treated us to! The way I remember it: Anthony treated us to a drink (each), a free sample of Guinness, and an unforgettable evening in his company. I call that a top contender for Inishbofin memories!

If you want to see me trying my first ever Guinness (in an Irish pub to boot) and Anthony’s amused expressions, I encourage you to check out Aubre’s video right here titled: Ireland | Part 1 – Making Our Way To Inishbofin.

The Takeaway

My month on Inishbofin was marked by so many amazing events and adventures. The island was breathtaking, and my stay on Lacey’s Farm was downright magical. I think we all know by now, however, that while these experiences are absolutely wonderful perks of this lifestyle, they are not what I hold most dear. What I treasure the most are the people I meet, the individuals I deeply connect with, and the friendships I forge.

With that being said, I’d like to give a special shoutout to following:

Anthony, your sly glances always suggest that you know some deeply hidden secret to life that you take pleasure in revealing bit by bit through overly mysterious riddle-like hints. Seriously though, I enjoyed all our conversations immensely. You are an amazing man to talk to, with great insight and wonderful stories to tell. You ask all the right questions, and your keen eyes see right through my bullshit. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see a bit more of each other, and pass around a couple more drinks. I wish you all the best!

Julia, you are truly an amazing woman with a huge heart. I only wish we could have spent more time together.

Austin, I really enjoyed our chats, and I loved hearing of the journey you and your wife took to where you are now! I hope you had a fantastic vacation to Greece!

Declan and Enda, I never felt more in Ireland than when listening to you two chatter. I really enjoyed meeting you!

Kashi, you took us in on our last night in Ireland, gave us a place to sleep, and shared some amazing travel stories of your own! You are a joy to converse with and truly a travel inspiration!

The Road Goes Ever On…

Of course, that brings us to the next step in our journey! With our month on the island over, Aubre and I woke up early to pack up and get on a the first ferry to the mainland! We hopped a bus to Galway where we surfed the couch of a woman named Kashi. Kashi has lived in Mexico, the US, Japan, and Ireland. Her and her wonderfully eccentric friend, Elizabeth were amazing company. We chatted late into the night, and slept soundly on her couch.

The next day we hopped a bus to Dublin where we met up with Anthony one more time. He showed us around his hometown, and we shared a coffee before he dropped us off at the airport. It was fantastic to see him one last time.

Aubre and I boarded our plane, and bid farewell to Ireland! It’s been grand! Next stop, Portugal!

Want to know how much living in Ireland for a month costs? Stay tuned for my next update, How Much It Really Costs To Travel: A Month In Ireland!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *