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THE RHYTHM OF INISHBOFIN



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Inishbofin, located a few kilometres off the Connemara coast, is a small island with a lot to offer. Travellers along the Wild Atlantic Way will find delicious local food, windswept landscapes and a rich ancient history to explore. 

But there’s something else that pulls visitors to this rugged little island. Listen closely to the sounds of crashing waves and whistling winds and you’ll hear the rhythm of traditional Irish music.

 
 
The Connemara region is famous for its music and storytelling heritage. The untamed beauty of the landscape and Ireland’s history of emigration have seeped into the songs and stories of the area.
 

The Connemara region is famous for its music and storytelling heritage. The untamed beauty of the landscape and Ireland’s history of emigration have seeped into the songs and stories of the area. On Inishbofin, like in many communities along the Wild Atlantic Way, a deep musical tradition is celebrated daily in spirited live performances and throughout the year at arts festivals and lively cultural events. 

Fuelled by the islanders’ love of a rollicking good pub session, the local trad music scene is what drew California-born musician Kevin Abeyta to his ancestral homeland. The son of an American father and an Irish mother, Abeyta travelled around Ireland before arriving in Inishbofin and discovering a place that truly felt like home.

“It's a place where you know everybody,” says Kevin. “There’s a great community spirit here. There aren’t many places like it.”

 
 

Inishbofin, or the 'Island of the White Cow', is home not only to incredible sunsets and a landscape of rocky, grass-covered coastline and sandy beaches; it’s also home to annual celebrations of traditional Irish culture, like the Inishbofin Arts Festival in May - which features concerts, sean nós dancing and storytelling - and the Inishbofin Set Dancing and Trad Weekend, which takes place every autumn. 

Kevin believes road-trippers on the Wild Atlantic Way will find much to discover on Inishbofin, located just a short ferry ride from the fishing village of Cleggan. His experience playing with a local trad band has fostered a love of the island’s traditions and culture. 

“There were a few musicians who went up to play in the school hall for dances. They needed a name and somebody put the name Inishbofin Céilí Band on them. Things gelled and all of a sudden they were a band.
Mostly they play Galway and north Connacht tunes. There’s one in particular that I’ve never heard played anywhere else. It’s called Mike Burke’s Jig and it’s unique to Inishbofin.”

 
 

From freshly caught seafood enjoyed with uninterrupted ocean views to serene beaches simply made for strolling, it’s an island paradise. For Kevin, the fun of playing live music and enjoying nights out with family and friends is balanced by the island’s quiet beauty and natural charms.

“The East End, where I live, is the best part of the island. The other side is very rugged, but the East End has two beaches and a more subtle landscape. There's a lot to be said for island life. You're your own boss. There's nobody bothering you."

"In summertime, you see the same familiar faces returning on holiday. It’s like going to a festival, except you don’t have to go anywhere – they come to you.”

As someone who travelled the country before settling on the island of his mother’s family, Kevin believes Inishbofin is a special place. 

“I came to the island when I was ten. When we moved to ‘Bofin, half my life became right. I was finally where I wanted to be.”

 
 

Interested in discovering Inishbofin for yourself? Combined with a visit to Galway or Clifden, or enjoyed on its own, Inishbofin is brimming with festive evenings in the island’s restaurants and pubs. Walk it off the next morning along one of the island’s looped trails (including the West Quarter and Middle Quarter loops), taking in ancient ruins and round stone houses and spotting birds and seals. 

History buffs will flock to Cromwell’s Barracks, a star-shaped 17th-century fort and its neighbouring medieval harbour. Refuel with fresh lobster or creamy seafood chowder served up with epic Atlantic views.

Inishbofin – the small island with a big personality – is an ideal place to explore Ireland’s musical roots while enjoying beautiful landscapes and serenity by the sea.

Explore more idyllic island getaways along the Wild Atlantic Way

 

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