What will it be? See the early 6th century monastic settlement on Inishmurray? Have a look at the seal colonies and rare local wildlife? Explore the fairy forts or “cursing stones”? Or just throw a fish on the barbie, crack open a picnic, and go for a swim in some of the cleanest water in Sligo. Whether you want to see the sights or just relax, Inishmurray and Coney Island have it all.
Inishmurray Island Trips
This mysterious abandoned mythical island is one of Sligo’s top hidden gems and due to its isolation can only be accessed by boat in favourable weather. Enquiring beforehand and coming equipped with a picnic and good walking boots, is a must! Typical trips include the scenic journey out from Rosses Point, past its ancient lighthouses and landmarks, onto the local seal colony followed by the journey to the island (with occasional spottings of dolphins before disembarking). Most of the time there is also the option to catch some fresh fish while the others warm up the barbie!
Inishmurray is a unique island situated off the Sligo coast and is famous as being one of the best examples of an early Christian settlement in Ireland and beyond. The island is 228 acres and was inhabited by just over 100 people in 1880 but was abandoned in 1948. The monastery there was founded by St Molaise in the 6th century, and the island was inhabited until 1948, and
has remained a pilgrimage destination until recent times. In the cashel and main monastery area, remains of the 3 metres thick wall can be seen enclosing the settlement which houses some of the ancient ecclesiastical buildings such as a stone-roofed oratory, two churches, a clochan, a bee-hive hut and other engraved slabs of stone that are rumoured to be “cursing stones”. 15 buildings and a schoolhouse also remain visible on the island. It was attacked numerous times by the vikings between the 8th and 9th centuries (famously in the year 807) and boasts strong links to other famous saints and patrons such as St Colmcille.
If you are seeking peace and natural beauty, it is also designated as a Special Protection Area for marine birds – shags, kittiwakes, terns, petrels, eider duck, brent geese, one of the largest colonies of barnacle geese in Europe and boasts unique species of flora such as purple loosestrife and a number of other undisturbed varieties.
A Coney Island water taxi service is available for larger groups of 12 plus on board the “Dalemoor”, the smaller of the two charter vessels, or the “M.V. Sarah Marie” (according to group size) for the naturalists, campers, hillwalkers, bird watchers, cyclists and secluded beach goers who would like to visit the island. Departing from Rosses Point, just 10 minutes from Sligo town this trip to the picturesque island of Coney is perfect for those who want their activity to suit their time. The island is only a 5 minute journey away, and boats over and back can be booked to suit the times of the group. A favourite activity here is to visit the local pub, take a picnic/bbq, take the scenic walk with views of Blackrock lighthouse around the North side of the island (try to count the rabbits!), explore the famine structures, try to find “St Patricks Wishing Chair”, or the remains of the washed up whale, or, for the more adventurous, take a dip in the secluded beach to the rear of the island. This trip can also be done in conjunction with a sightseeing/ seal watching or fishing trip to top off the evening and maps are provided!
The island is approximately 400 acres and is so named because of the vast quantity of rabbits which can be spotted on the island at any time. In 1862 the island had a population of 124 people, with 45 children attending the local school. The island now has only one family of permanent inhabitants (traceable there back until the 1750s) but houses many other temporary residents, especially in the summer months. Most visitors like to frequent the local pub, spot the faerie, ring and napoleopic star-shaped forts, visit Carty’s strand (the secluded beach to the rear of the island), walk around the island to spot rabbits or the schoolhouse and other famine structures which remain, or just to relax there for a barbeque and a swim. There are also stories of faeries, mermaids and spirits here, and visitors can try to find the elusive “St Patricks wishing chair, St Patricks well, the remains of a washed up whale and some fairy forts in this very relaxing retreat.