The Aran Islands, Doolin
Inis Mór is the largest of the three Aran Islands off the west coast of Galway, with a population of about 900 people. The name means 'large island'. Inishmore is a popular tourist attraction, so it can get quiet busy over there. The island is approximately 14 km long and 3 km wide. It’s mostly made up out of barren limestone rock and small fields surrounded by stone walls.
Aran (Inis Mór) was also an important centre for early Irish Christianity. The island has a lot of ancient monuments and early Christian ruins. The most known is Dún Aengus - The Fort of Aonghasa – this fort sits on the very edge of the island on top of a 90m high sea cliff. Dun Aengus is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe.
Its legendary owner, Aonghusa, was a chief of the Fir Bolg who are said to have been the earliest inhabitants of the island. After the Battle of Moytura they fled first to Meath and then to Connaught and settled on lands along the western seaboard, including the Aran Islands. The Firbolgs later lost the islands to the Eoghanacta of Munster.
The O'Briens took possession of the island some time in the 11th century and in 1334 it was plundered and burned by Sir John Darcy, Lord Justice of Ireland. From about 1400 the O'Flahertys were laying claim to the Aran Islands and in the 16th century they succeeded in gaining possession by expelling the O'Briens.
The island can be explored in many different ways: on foot, on bicycles, by pony, car or by minibus. So you have a wide choice of transportation on this island.
Inishmore is accessible from Galway and Doolin by a regular ferry service (the crossing takes about 2 hours) or from Rossavael (the crossing takes about 45 minutes) and by plane from Connemara, Co. Galway which requires only about 20 minutes. When you plan to stay on the island, be aware that the number of accommodation is limited and that you have to book in advance.
You can see more photos and read the full story on my Inishmore travelpage
I have taken many Ferries throughout Ireland. The two Ferries run by the O'Briens, The Tranquility and The Queen of Arans, are extremely well outfitted. They have a sun deck for those who want to be up top. They have air conditioning, though I am not sure that it is used very often, and heating.
The skippers and crew are very friendly and always willing to point out a picture perfect site.
From Doolin you can catch a ferry to Inishere, the closest of the Aran Island chain. It's a nice, if choppy, ferry ride over to it. A great place to spend the day, wandering arounf the small island. Visit the lighthouse and the wreck of the Plassy and then have lunch at the main island pub. If you choose to spend the night there, even better. Most of the tourists leave at night so you pretty much have the place to yourself. It's very peaceful and not as crowded as Inishmore. I've been there on several occasions when they have had live music and dancing in the pub and that can be a lot of fun.
Steven and I absolutely LOVED this island. It was the smallest of the 3 Aran Islands and we really got a piece of the real Irish Culture. They still have the rock huts that were built 200+ years ago with the grass roofs, and the entire Island uses the rocks for fences. When we arrived onto the island we took a jaunting car tour. Our tour guide was amazing. He was funny and he let us get out whenever to take pictures or just to walk around. He explained how almost everyone on the island is from there and they do not allow outsiders to buy land on the island. The only way to live there would be marry someone who already lives there or move in with a friend.
When we were done with our tour, the guide dropped us off at a hill where we could walk up to this castle. We toured the castle by ourselves then started to walk back to the ferry. A house had a sign on the outside that said café, so we stopped in and bought a panini. The café was actually this women’s home and we sat in her dining room while she made our sandwich. There was also a sunken cemetery that we walked past and which was really neat.
The ferry ride which included a 2 hour stop at Inisheer, and a ride along the cliffs of Moher were 20 euros per person (I think, they may have been only 10 Euros but It is cheaper to wait till you get there because they will drop the price if you look like its too expensive.)
The Jaunting Car tour around Inisheer was a total of 20 euros and is defiantly worth it!
The panini was 7 Euros
Total expense for the day- around 67 Euros for 2 people
We had about 2 hours total on the island to tour and wish we had more time. :/ Can’t wait to go back one day!
The priest who married us, Dara Malloy, lives on the Aran Islands, so we were instantly intrigued and wanted to see.
The boat ride was a bit bumpy and some poor souls were pretty sea sick, but once off the boat, I was amazed at the history and step back in time. It was incredible. We were there on a misty, confused day. It would rain for a second, then clear up, so we decided to tough it out and walk all over.
One the the coolest thing I saw was a man walking his horse into his plot of land, then building the stones back up from the ground to keep the horse in! There was no fence, no gate- he just pulled down rocks to take him out and put them back up to put him!
We frolicked on the beack and saw a group of Aran Ilsnader kids in swim caps braving the cold waves and having a ball. Explored castles and ruins and some teacakes and bought a fantastic Irish wool sweater that to this day, if I take a sniff of it, reminds me of being there with the hay, the cold air, the moody sun and the people. really it smells like a barn- but I love it
If you have been out all day and happen to be passing by Doolin at around the time that the sun is setting, travel down to the harbour and wander out onto the headland for a wonderful view as the sun sets over the Aran Isles.
As I live in Ireland, I know that Cliffs and Aran Cruises have a combo trip to visit the Aran Islands and view the Cliffs of Moher all in the same day. The boat is named the Jack B . It is a very good service direct from Doolin Pier to the Aran Islands. I have to say it is a most enjoyable trip.