Taking the R279 opposite the Catholic Church in Cliffoney you catch the first glimpse of Inishmurray Island, about four miles off the Sligo coast…….
The island contains the remains of a remarkable Early Christian monastic settlement which was home to St Maloise, confessor of St Colmcille, and it was from here that Colmcille was banished to Iona as penance for his part in the Battle of the Books in 563 AD. The island was home to 100 inhabitants in the 1880’s and the traditional village which was abandoned in 1948 by its inhabitants is still intact.
The Island may be reached by charter boat from the village of Mullaghmore and makes for a beautiful day out. The monastic site there is populated with over 100 cursing, praying and fertility stones. Many of these have been removed for safe keeping by the Authorities and it is planned to erect replicas of these stone on a scenic walk around the village of Cliffoney.
In the 19th century the Island was well known for the illegal distillation of Alcohol known as Poitin. The Island was an ideal place for this activity since no policeman could approach except by boat and would be spotted a long way off the locals being aided by the lighting of a fire on the mainland to warn of the imminent arrival.