Inishbofin Island - The History
The island's English name Inishbofin is derived from the Irish name Inis Bó Finne (Island of the White Cow). The name has its origins in a local legend. The island has been occupied continuously since the Bronze Age.
In 668, Saint Colmán founded a monastery on Inishbofin, which survived until the 10th century. It is also home to the ruins of Cromwell's barracks, constructed in 1652 at the entrance to the harbour entrance.
When the much hated Cromwell was in power, Inishbofin was transformed into a penal colony for Catholic clergy. An unfortunate bishop was tied to "Bishop's Rock" at low tide and drowned as the waters rose.
Inishbofin is also home to Dún Gráinne, the remains of a fort used by the legendary Grace O'Malley, Ireland's pirate queen, as well as the ruins of a Celtic fort dating to 1000 B.C.
Inishbofin is believed to have been continuously inhabited for up to 10,000 years. Inishbofin was one of the most important shipping havens on the West coast of Ireland in the days of sail. It was one of the last Royalist strongholds to fall to Cromwell's army and was garrisoned by them until the end of the century.
The Cromwellians used it as a staging post for Irish men and women who were being transported to the West Indies. An aspect of the island is that it has no trees or forests whatsoever.
Any wood was cut down and used as heating fuel. Because of the salt-enriched air, trees were never able to re-establish themselves. Instead, a popular fuel on the island is peat turf.
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