20th April, 2016

Today we spotlight one of our favourite hidden gems: Inishbofin in Ireland.

This little island, which features on our A Jolly in Connemara cycling holiday, has just 160 inhabitants. It's small but utterly wonderful - a dreamy place to visit for anyone seeking a tranquil day or two away from the hustle and bustle of everyday mainland life. It boasts some fabulous award-winning sandy beaches, strewn with seashells, and crystal clear blue waters - so if the weather's on your side, a spot of swimming is usually in order!

The island seems to have captured Seamus Heaney's heart too (so we're in good company!) The Nobel Prize winning poet began his poem ‘Seeing Things’ with a boat ride to Inishbofin:

"Inishbofin on a Sunday Morning. Sunlight, turfsmoke, seagulls, boatslip, diesel"

He was right to spot the birds! The island is in fact a special area of conservation due to the presence of many species of bird and seals. The rarest species of bird breeding on the island at present is the corncrake. Related to moorhens and coots, the corncrake is unusual in that it lives on dry land, unlike its water-based cousins. Corncrakes are very secretive, spending most of their time hidden in tall vegetation, their presence only betrayed by their rasping call. In flight their bright chestnut wings and trailing legs are unmistakable.

For the more adventurous, the island's waters make for spectacular diving. Two of the beaches on Inishbofin have been awarded the ‘Green Coast Award’, prized for their exceptional water quality and their natural, unspoilt environment. Interestingly, the island has no trees or forests whatsoever, as any wood was cut down in centuries past and used as heating fuel. Because of the salt-enriched air, trees were never able to re-establish themselves. So these days, the islanders tend to use peat turf for fuel instead.

Don't miss this charismatic little corner of the world - hop on your bike and come cycle with us in Ireland!