Traditional weekend on the island of Inishbofin

September, 2019

Inishbofin Traditional Weekend
Program

In one of the magazines, supplied by the owner of my ‘Bed and Breakfast’, I read about the traditional weekend on the island of Inishbofin. I check the weather forecast and Saturday does look rather good; at least not too much rain! I try to book a ticket online, but the website is ‘out of order’. Best thing is to go on time on Saturday to the ticket office in the fishing village of Cleggan, from where the ferry departs.

This afternoon I decide to buy some groceries for the next coming days in Clifden (capital of Connemara), as there are plenty of big supermarkets. I park my car on the spacious parking place from the Aldi and walk from there into town. My eye catches a Tourist Information Centre on the main street. I collect some free maps and start a chat with a very helpful lady. She informs me that the office sells tickets to the island. How convenient! A few minutes later I leave the office with my ferry ticket for Saturday at 11.30 a.m. Clifden is a small, very touristic town with many restaurants, pubs and clothing stores. I can’t resist to buy a very affordable Aran woollen sweater, symbol of Irish Clan Heritage. Every stitch and pattern used in an Aran sweater has its own meaning.

After getting my groceries, I return via the scenic and curvy road back to Letterfrack. Tomorrow, I will drive to Cleggan for the island trip.

There are two ways to go to Cleggan and my landlord tells me to take the second road to the right, coming from Letterfrack. The first one seems to be an older road and is very narrow and extremely curvy! Cleggan is a small fishing village, but its restaurants are well-known! There is a reasonable big parking place, immediately on the right hand side, where you pay five euro a day. While walking to the pier, I notice a few other parking places, which are private and cheaper.

At the harbour, there are a few small monuments, to remember the disaster of October 1927, when 25 local fishermen drowned, during a storm in Cleggan Bay.

The ferry is already waiting and a mixed group of people is boarding for the island; some tourists, a few musicians, a European film crew and some Islanders.

We leave in calm waters, but once out on open sea, the waves are pretty high! I normally get sea sick in no-time, but this trip will take only around thirty minutes. Too short for my stomach to get upset!

Although the weather is grey, the views are impressive. Especially, when entering the small harbour of Inishbofin, where the remains of a spooky fort are welcoming the passengers.

The island is bare, with a few houses spread all over. There is no centre and there are no stores. A few hotels, restaurants, pubs and many guesthouses, as tourism is the main income. Plenty of hiking and cycling paths, deserted beaches and impressive views over the water and Connemara Mountains in the far distance.

After disembarking the ferry, all passengers spread out to different directions. I just start hiking to the eastern side of the island, until I reach The Galley Cafe. Again, a robin is following me………

At this moment just a handful of people are visiting the café, but within half an hour it is packed with musicians and music lovers! I did not even know this small place was listed on the program.

Outside the rain starts drizzling, but inside we keep warm with the traditional music and a pint.

I walk back to the harbour, where another session will start in a few minutes in The Dolphin Hotel. The seafood chowder warms me up and I wish I had booked an overnight stay, as the ferry is already leaving at 17.00.

Another hour to enjoy some more music and then it is time to go back to the mainland. The ferry is more or less empty! Everybody is staying on the island and that is exactly what I am going to do next time!!!