Early Christian Saints of Inishbofin

Close to the tiny harbour in Inishark there are a number of features associated with the monastic site founded by St. Leo. There is a small cashel called Clochan Leo, traces of a medieval Church Foigh Leo and a small holy well, Tobar Leo. With regards to Inishbofin St Colman dominates from as early as the 7th century. He was of Connacht origin and defended the Celtic Custom on the dating of Easter at the Synod of Whitby in 664. The Synod condemned the Celtic Way and this Paschal controversy led Colman to leave Lindesfarne with all the Irish Monks and thirty English. They sailed to Bofin via Iona and landed here in 665.

In the townland of Knock they established another a monastery. Before long discontent arose within their community between the Saxons and the Celts. Colman removed the English to the mainland of Mayo and established another monastery there. He died there on August 8th in 674.

Today there remains a ruined stone chapel on the site of the original St Colman’s monastic site, which dates to the 14th century. The original structure which was probably a wooden one was sacked and burned in 1334. There is also a bullaun stone and two early crosses.

St Scaithin is also reputed to have had a settlement on Inishbofin. This site is situated in West Quarter in the old children’s burial ground. In the medieval period these islands like most of Connemara lay beyond the direct Norman influences and were held alternatively by the O’ Flaherty and the O Malley sea lords. The islands no doubt participated in the extensive business of trading and raiding that typified maritime pursuits in the medieval period along the western seaboard.

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