Island of the white cow
Like a painting, distant mountains in shadow, shy to reveal themselves. Blue skies interrupted by white clouds spun straight from a candy floss machine. Even whiter sheep grazing in the fields below, one stumbling to keep up with his injured leg. All marked electric pink like a teenager at a concert.
The music is the howling wind, tossing birds about like paper planes. Smaller birds dart in and out of hedgerows, dive bombing in front of me as I amble down narrow roads.
Inishbofin, the island of the white cow, is a soothing haven from a noisy, chaotic Dublin. ‘Haven’ is the word banded about on travel sites, and the island does not disappoint. There is something calming about its landscape.
If you are planning to get there, and don’t have the luxury of driving, there is the patience-testing public transport option. Buses from Dublin to Galway are frequent, with City Link there are seventeen buses daily. From Galway’s new bus terminal, you can then catch the Cliften bus to Cleggan Pier for the ferry to Inishbofin. The Cliften bus only goes five times a day, so timing your connection is crucial. Winding through breathtaking Connemara, the bus takes almost two hours, delivering passengers right to the harbour as the ferry starts to depart. If you’re organised, you can just jump off the bus and onto the boat with seconds to spare. Sailing three times a day over the summer period, the ferry takes just over 30 minutes to cross, revealing some of the most beautiful coastline and preparing you for a feast for the eyes on your Inishbofin adventure.
I sit on the deck, hoping to get a glimpse of dolphins or other sealife, but sadly none appear. In no time, a boatful of tourists are hopping off onto Inishbofin pier. Even the air is different. I immediately feel recharged.
Little boats of blue and red bob gently on the water, as seaweed gather by the barriers. Three geese are picking lunch from among the plantlife that floats near the pier. I walk to the end of the pier and read every sign, not that there are many, looking for an illuminating arrow pointing me towards the hostel. None appear, so I follow the crowd of luggage draggers towards the church spire. Some divert off towards flags, others take the slope towards ‘The Galley’ and ‘Bike Hire’. I scroll through my emails to see if in the correspondence I’ve received directions. I haven’t, but it can’t be far. I follow some people with backpacks, stereotyping the whole way. Who has a backpack and doesn’t stay in a hostel. It works. 700m up the road from the harbour is Inishbofin Hostel & Campsite. A yellow painted old house, converted into low cost accommodation for city visitors looking for that elusive sense of quiet.
Houses nestle on hillsides. Some from the past; some from the future.
The walk to the hostel takes me past lush green fields. I peer in to watch lambs follow their multicoloured mothers around. Undulating hills are broken up by stone walls. Houses nestle on hillsides, some from the past, some from the future. I pass the bike hire place and make a mental note to come back tomorrow to rent a bike to see the outer parts of the island, not knowing that I would spend more time walking the bike around than cycling. But I’m here, on Inishbofin, and it is enough for today.