Scholars commonly link the advent of Romanesque architecture in Ireland with the implementation of ecclesiastical reforms in the 12th century. This reform process entailed renewed engagement with papal authority and the formalisation of a diocesan hierarchy. Royal patrons and wealthy ecclesiastical foundations invested in new architectural forms, possibly to signal their allegiance to reform and to vie for position amid contesting claims to diocesan status. Turning from major centres to the margins, this paper uses new excavation evidence from Inishark Island to consider responses to reform among western island monasteries during the 12th and 13th centuries. The maintenance of an early medieval pilgrimage landscape and the renovation of Inishark’s church in the late 12th or early 13th century are discussed in light of the island’s folkloric association with Saint Leo. In the context of contemporary reforms, the maintenance or re-inscription of a local cult of a saint resonant with papal authority may have advantageously positioned Inishark among a seascape of island establishments vying for status and pilgrimage traffic. Although somewhat speculative, this work encourages scholars to recognise the diversity of possible architectural and ritual engagements with Rome both before and during the reform era.