Inishturk Island, off Mayo and Connemara, Galway's stunning western coastlines, is really one of the best places to visit along the Wild Atlantic Way.
The island’s name comes from the Irish “Inis Toirc,” meaning Island of the Wild Boars. It sits 9 miles off the Mayo coast, between Caher Island and Inishbofin, and is accessible by a ferry from the Roonagh Pier at Louisburgh.
While the Inishturk’s population has dwindled in recent years (currently 56 people live full-time on the island), it has an abundance of attractions for tourists: fishing, hiking, scuba diving, gorgeous beaches, ancient ruins, and sweet B&Bs with ocean views.
Port An Dun, which overlooks Inishturk’s beautiful natural lagoon, is a ninth-century fort that was used by the Vikings. Local lore has it that the Viking leader concocted a recipe for a delicious beer from the island’s heather and so prized the recipe that he ordered the death of his own son and then drowned himself.
There are beehive huts dating back to 1500 BC, and a Napoleonic signal tower built by the British in 1805 as a lookout point for French ships.
Ruins of a church dating back to the 16th century remain, with an interesting history – the church’s roof was removed to be used as the roof of another church on mainland Ireland in 1877. There’s also a graveyard that was once a pagan holy site.
Hiking enthusiasts can avail of two walks on the island – a shorter one that loops around Inishturk’s interior, and a longer, more challenging walk that will bring you along the island’s 600-foot cliffs.
On the eastern side of the island sit Tranaun and Curraun two pristine sandy beaches sheltered by coves, making them ideal for swimming.
Inishturk also has a Community Club, which the island recently revamped as a space for people to gather for a pint, a bite to eat and to listen to live music. It’s been described as “the best pub view in Europe.”
With Inishturk as a base, trips are also possible to the surrounding islands, including Caher, Clare and Inishbofin.
For more information, visit InishturkIsland.com.
* Originally published in 2016, updated in July 2023.