Only a few people live on the island of Inis Bó Finne, who mainly live from fishing and agriculture. In winter, storms sometimes cut the island off the mainland for weeks. A hard life that Pat Coyne consciously returned to in the 1980s. His love for the island and the desire to build a future for his family drove him.
Sustainable tourism, Pat believes, is essential for the future of the island community and so he and his sister Cathy first opened the Dolphin Restaurant, and later the Dolphin Hotel followed. The hotel was named after a fishing boat from the 1920s that belonged to Pat and Cathy's grandfather. The beautifully curved building made of a combination of recycled stones and cedar wood blends wonderfully into the green, hilly landscape of the island and offers a great view of the dramatic Connemara coast. The beautiful garden and the sea panorama can be admired on the two terraces.
Pat lives hospitality with all his heart: when the guests arrive by ferry, he is already at the pier to welcome the newcomers. He simply knows everything about his island and leaves no stone unturned to ensure that visitors have an unforgettable stay. If you are looking for an extensive nightlife, you are definitely wrong on Inis Bó Finne. It is quiet and peaceful here, the streets ideal for walking and cycling. Mountain trails lead to rugged cliffs and sandy beaches with clean, clear water that is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Nature lovers can watch the many birds and other wildlife. The entire island is covered with grasses, irises, marsh thistles, red clover, thyme and moss. Traditional cultivation methods have enabled rare flora and fauna to survive.
Because the island has been inhabited continuously for around 10,000 years, interesting archaeological finds can also be visited, such as the remains of old Neolithic field systems, stone terraces from the Bronze Age or the Promontory Fort from the Iron Age.
To end the restful day in a particularly beautiful way, a delicious dinner is available in the award-winning restaurant The Dolphin - sometimes accompanied by traditional Irish live music.
ArchitectureThe beautiful curved hotel building, in which the restaurant is located, is in complete harmony with the surrounding nature. Local, recycled stones and weathered cedar were used as materials. The combination of these natural materials gives the building a very organic look. The entire building is very well insulated and planned to use passive solar heat to the maximum in order to save heating energy. The windows were planned so that almost no electric light is required during the day.
FoodThe Dolphin is particularly famous for two things: excellent dishes with fresh seafood and delicious homemade desserts. The restaurant has been included in the BIM Seafood Circle, an award from Ireland's best seafood suppliers. Enjoy the creamy Inishbofin fish soup or the freshly caught lobster with a panoramic view from the large windows directly onto the lake. Another specialty is the Connemara lamb. As many locally produced products as possible are used for all dishes. Herbs and salads come from organic cultivation.
The hotel is an important economic factor for the island. Six islanders are employed in the hotel itself. Hotel guests also use the ferry service, which is run by a local family. All photos of the hotel were taken by a local photographer. The hotel owners encourage their guests to visit the local craft shop and museum; some local handicrafts are also sold at the hotel. Pat and Cathy are active in the Inishbofin Tourism Association and in this way promote initiatives from which the entire island benefits such as the creation of the Wild Atlantic Way or the Blue Way as well as various local festivals. The hotel organizes the annual Inishbofin half marathon and 10,000 meter run, the Bike 2 Bofin bike race and other fundraising events. In the past three years, Pat and Cathy have raised a total of 140,000 euros for Down Syndrome Galway, a charity that supports around 100 affected families in Galway and Connemara.
EnvironmentThe island of InisBóFinne is a nature reserve and one of the few places in Ireland where you can still hear the characteristic call of the endangered quail king. The island is a diverse mix of diverse habitats from pristine beaches, sand dunes and rugged cliffs to moors and hay meadows. The owners of The Dolphin Hotel, siblings Pat and Cathy, have dedicated themselves to preserving this unique mix for future generations. To do this, they follow the concept of "ecotourism", which by definition promotes responsible travel while preserving the nature worth protecting and striving for the well-being of the local population. Energy-efficient LEDs are used as illuminants. Appliances such as washing machines and dryers have the highest energy standards. In order to compensate for the impact of the building on nature, 100 trees were planted behind the building. A natural pond will be created there shortly. Energy-efficient underfloor heating and solar panels ensure a pleasant room climate. The hotel has its own wastewater treatment plant, which is checked twice a year by an official body. The water for the hotel is drawn from the island's water reservoir. The reservoir is heavily used by the hotel guests in summer. Visitors are made aware of the need to save water. For example, tablecloths are not used in the hotel to reduce wash water. Guests have the option of not having their towels changed every day. Products from the Lilly's Eco Clean brand are used for cleaning. This company was chosen because it is an Irish company, reducing transport routes and supporting local jobs. Avoiding waste is a big issue in hotel operations. At The Dolphin, as much as possible is reused, waste is reduced where possible and the rest are recycled. As far as possible, products are not sold in individual packaging, but only in large containers. Sugar, sauces, ketchup and mayonnaise are only served in reusable containers; small packaged butter and jam were completely abolished. Plastic water bottles are not sold at the hotel. It is planned to offer refillable glass bottles in the coming season. The income from the sale of the bottles should benefit the Inishbofin Conservation Initiative. The bird watching tours and mountain hikes offered by the hotel follow the “leave no traces” principle. The organic tours are supervised by experienced guides such as Anthony McGeehan. McGeehan has years of experience in bird watching and now works for Birdwatch Ireland to record and monitor bird populations. Its top priority is the welfare and conservation of bird species.
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Inis Bó Finne can only be reached by ferry from Cleggan Harbor. Dublin Airport is just under 300 km from Cleggan Harbor. There is the option of taking the bus from the airport via Galway and Clifden to Cleggan. The ferry between Cleggan and Inishbofin runs twice a day all year round, three times in summer. At the Inishbofin pier, guests are already expected by hotel owner Pat and taken to the hotel by minibus.
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