Saints to Sailors
It is estimated that Bofin was inhabited as far back as 8000–4000 B.C. The first documented history of the island dates from Early Christian Times. As you sail around the tower and signal light into the harbour you will notice Cromwell’s 16th Century Barracks which has seen both soldiers and pirates. Read more about the eventful history of the Barrack’s and the late medieval times on Inishbofin <hyperlink to ‘Cromwell’s Barracks’ blog post>.
But the origins of the island’s initial colonisation are still obscure. The most common and basic version relates how two fishermen lost in fog, landed on an enchanted island and lit a fire. The flames broke the spell and the mist lifted to reveal an old woman driving a white cow along a shingle beach, which ran between a lake and the sea. She was observed to strike the cow, whereupon it turned to stone. Another tradition has that the old women and the cow emerge from the lake every seven years or alternatively to forewarn of some impending disaster. The lake in question is Loch Bo Finne (Lake of the White Cow) in West Quarter village. Whatever the truth of the legend, it is clear that the islands have drawn fishermen, farmers, monks, soldiers and adventurers for over 6,000 years. Read more about the early history of Inishbofin <hyperlink to ‘Legend & Early History’ blog>.
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. Today there remains a ruined stone chapel on the site of the original St Colman’s monastic site, which dates to the 14th century. Read more about the Early Christian time <link to Early Christian times>, the monastic sites <link to ‘monastic sites’> and archaeologic sites <link to ‘archaeology’> on Inishbofin. The present Church <link to Church> is the fourth house of worship since the arrival of St Colman in 664 A.D.
Most recent event in history that has greatly impacted life on Inishbofin and Inishark has of course been the death of Inishark <link to ‘Death of Inishark’>.
Visit the Inishbofin Heritage Museum <link to directory ‘Inishbofin Heritage Museum> or book a Cultúr na nOileáin Tour <link to directory ‘Cultúr na nOileáin Tours’> to hear and experience these stories on Inishbofin.