Umfin (Umphin or Iompainn) Island is a small uninhabited island living on the seaward side of Inishmeane and just to the North of the much better known Gola Island and the lesser-known Tororragaun Island. Umfin sits approximately 3 KM from mainland Donegal and is normally surrounded by mildly tetchy seas.
It is home to a ground-nesting colony of several thousand sea birds and seldom sees visitors of the human variety. Access to the island is by boat or if you are feeling Olympic by swimming from Gweedore. There is no regular ferry service to the island and a leisurely sea kayak paddle is an excellent way to approach and visit the island. On the landward (Donegal mainland) side of Umfin, there is a perfect natural harbour and shelved landing beach between mainland Umphin and the outlaying Tornacolpagh Island.
The channel between the islands provides a very shelter landing spot which at low tide allows you to walk between the islands. The rest of Umfin's coastline is exposed to every ripple of oncoming sea motion from all directions south-west through to the north and is effectively guarded by sea cliffs for most of its circumference.
The island has no concrete pier and storm beach landing is your only option with sea kayaks being the easiest method of approach. The granite sea cliffs on Umphin provide the same excellent sea battered granite up to 25m in height and on the south face of the island lives one of Ireland's most spectacular sea cliff roofs
One of the more unusual features of Umphin Island and perhaps even of any of Ireland's islands is Sceadamán Iompainn or The Throat of Umpin. This 300m long tunnel travels right through the centre of the island. The tunnel starts at one of the many huge sea caves on the seaward side of the island and ends at the smaller sea cave beside the sheltered raised shingle beach on the landward side of the island. The tunnel is the perfect size for a kayak and has a 40m long section of complete darkness at about mid passage.
For a safe traverse of the passage, you will need very calm seas with anything over a metre from the south through west to north causing huge amounts of motion in the seaward cave entrance. The ideal tide is about an hour after low at about 1.0m just remember to bring with you as much artificial light as you can carry.
The short film to the left shows a traverse of the tunnel made in May 2017 in perfect sea conditions and weather.
Umfin Island in 2014, accessed by inflatable dingy
A Paddle through Sceadamán Iompainn in 2017