The Aran Islands
History, archaeology and geology combined provide us with scenery that is simply stunning. The Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Croagh Patrick, Connemara National Park, The Museum of Country Life, Ashford Castle and Salthill Promenade – the list is endless. The one attraction I haven’t yet mentioned are the Aran Islands.
The Aran Islands are majestic, rustic and authentic. These three islands are the sentries standing guard between the North Atlantic Ocean and Galway Bay. The islands are Inis Mór, Inis Méain and Inis Oírr.
The largest of the Arran Islands is thirty-one kilometres square. Contrary to its size, it has quite a few historical attractions. Kilronan is the village, the hub of the island. It is a traditional fishing village. The only ATM on the three islands is here in the village, in the local spa! The village is picturesque. A refreshing walk away is Dún Aonghasa – only 6 kilometers…
Dún Aonghasa is a World Heritage Site. The 300 foot cliffs are on the south side of the island. It is a fourteen-acre tiered site. A semi-circular stone fort crowns the site. Standing next to the stone fort and gazing out over the Atlantic Ocean gives a person a chance to get their thoughts in perspective. Where else can you stand on top of a 300-foot cliff with an ocean at your feet?
Get more than your feet wet and the thrill of your life at the Worm Hole. The Worm Hole is a natural swimming pool in the cliffs. It was made famous by being featured in the Red Bull Cliff-diving series.
Otherwise known as the sanctuary, Inis Méain has a naturally hilly landscape with a view across to the Cliffs of Moher. The island has its own impressive cliffs, historic and heritage attractions. The landscape and way of life combine to provide a more authentic lifestyle, hence providing a more authentic escape.
Heritage House is a traditional thatch cottage. It is home to artefacts and memorabilia of island life.
Dún Crocbhur or Conor’s Fort is the largest stone fort of all those on the islands. It is a National Monument. It sits at the peak of the island, visible from everywhere else on the island.
The cliffs of Inis Méain hold its own power – puffing power! Puffing Holes are a natural phenomenon. They are vertical channels running down through the cliffs to the ocean below. Wild waves crash at the base of the cliffs sending gushes of seawater up into the channels, causing sprays of seawater to spray out over the land on top of the cliffs – just like a puffing whale.
It may be the smallest of the Arran Islands, but it has as much (if not even more) to attract visitors. The island is 3 km in length and 3km in width. Geographically it is the closest to the Burren. This is the reason for the flora and fauna on the island; the barren landscape erupts with color in May and is present through until September.
Inis Oírr is home to an arts center, Aras Eanias. They hold both art and music courses. These naturally feed into entertainment; namely into the local pub to entertain the locals and visitors alike.
The only freshwater lake, Loch Mór, is on Inis Oírr. The island is also home to the most noted prehistoric monastic site and ancient burial ground dating back to 1500BC. The ruins of a small church with its stone altar intact is called Cill Ghobnail. It is named after St Gobnaitt, the defender of Ballyvourney (here on our doorstep!).
The Arran Islands is most famous not for historic sites, stone forts or traditional music but for fishing and the Arran Sweater. And why wouldn’t it! The Arran Sweater is one of the wonders in our world, why shouldn’t it be th at way for everybody else?
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