The Aran Islands (Inis Mor, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr) are 3 rocky islands on the mouth of Galway Bay. The islands will whisk any willing traveler away to a time gone by and Irish is the spoken language. But they also all speak English, so therefore you don’t need to worry if you are not a gaelic speaker! Here you can stroll along the windy shores of the Atlantic across from The Burren, dance amidst ancient ruins and swim in the sea. There are amazing views and great cycling trips too. So hop on a ferry from Doolin Pier and take at least two days, if possible. I advise my guests to stay overnight in one of the Islands to get the real sense of Island life.
The closest Island to Doolin is INIS OIRR, which is a popular tourist destination. You can take a pony and cart ride, cycle or walk around the island and take in the sights. Check out The Plassey shipwreck, washed ashore in 1960, on which the wild storms have taken their toll. After that have a look at Inis Oirr Lighthouse from the road as, unfortunately, the gates are closed. In addition to those sights, the Island also has an arts center and holds traditional music and arts courses. There is much accommodation on Inis Oirr and a number of restaurants, cafés and pubs with Irish music, song and dance.
INIS MOR is the largest of the Aran Islands. You can walk, rent a bike, go on a jaunting cart or a minibus, the choice is yours. Visit the medieval Christian ruins of the Seven Churches, the prehistoric clifftop fort Dun Aonghas and the “worm hole”. It is a rectangular natural pool of stunning beauty in which you can swim, or alternatively you can take a dip at Kilmurvey Beach. The island is dotted with restaurants, cafés and bars with music sessions nightly throughout the season.
The middle island of the three Aran Islands is INIS MEAIN. It is also the quietest. There are a number of incredible walking trails which criss cross a number of winding narrow roads from the rocky hillsides on one side to the deserted sandy beaches on the other. Among the wild flowers in the limestone karst landscape is the imposing stone fort – Dun Chonchuir and the nearby fort – Dun Fhearbhai. To conclude, no trip to the island is complete without a visit to Synge’s Cottage where the playwright wrote many of his works and Synge’s Chair which was the writer’s favourite place to overlook the Atlantic.
For more info about the Aran Islands, visit www.aranislands.ie