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Ardoileán or Ard Oileán, known in English as High Island (a translation of the Irish name), is a small island off the northwest coast of Connemara in County Galway, Ireland. It was once the site of an early Irish monastic community.

High Island
Native name:
High Island is located in island of Ireland
High Island
High Island
LocationAtlantic Ocean
Coordinates53°32′47″N 10°15′26″W / 53.5464°N 10.2572°W / 53.5464; -10.2572Coordinates: 53°32′47″N 10°15′26″W / 53.5464°N 10.2572°W / 53.5464; -10.2572


Ardoileán early medieval ecclesiastical site

It is one of thirty-odd islands off the west coast of Ireland, between Inishtrahull and Clear Island, which were settled by hermits and monastic communities in the early Christian period.[1] Other such islands in the direct vicinity of Ardoiléan include Clare Island, Chapel Island, Caher Island, Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishark.[1] Since (at least) the seventh century, Ardoiléan had been the site of an early monastery or hermitage, reputedly founded by St Féchín of Fore (d. 665).

Above the south landing-place, near the remains of the monastery, there is a Christian cross-slab dating perhaps to the seventh century.[2]

Modern historyEdit

Between 1969 and 1998, the island was in the possession of Irish poet Richard Murphy, then a resident of Inishbofin. In personal memoirs published by Granta in The Kick (2002), Murphy remembers the opportunity when the previous owner considered selling the island: "I got excited at the thought of buying this inaccessible holy island, restoring the beehive cells and oratory of its derelict hermitage and preserving the place from destruction either by tourists or by sheep."[3]

In February 2019, the island was put up for sale for €1.25 million by Spencer Auctioneers.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Herity, "The hermitage on Ardoileán, Co Galway", p. 65.
  2. ^ "Early Irish hermitage", in St Cuthbert, his cult and community, p. 59.
  3. ^ Richard Murphy, The Kick, p. 276.
  4. ^ "Craggy island for sale: gulls, grass, wind and no mod cons". The Guardian. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019.

Secondary sourcesEdit

  • Herity, Michael. "The Hermitage on Ardoileán, Co Galway." Journal of the Royal Society of the Antiquaries of Ireland 120 (1990). pp. 65–101.
  • Macalister, R.A.S. "The Antiquities of Ard Oilean, Co. Galway." Journal of the Royal Society of the Antiquaries of Ireland 26 (1896). pp. 196–210.

Further readingEdit


  • Murphy, Richard. High Island: New and Selected Poems. Harper and Row, 1975.
  • Murphy, Richard. High Island. Faber, 1974.

External linksEdit