Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland

A 35 minute Ferry ride from Galway the Aran Islands or The Arans are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway, Ireland. The Aran Islands are a group of three islands on the west coast of Ireland in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is more than just a holiday destination with accommodation for all budgets including Camping, Hostels, Bed and Breakfasts, and Hotels. The islands are at the mouth of Galway Bay, in County Galway but are also accessible from Doolin which is beside the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

The Three Islands are made of Limestone and resemble the landscape of the Burren. They are The 1,200 residents primarily speak Irish, but are also fluent in English. The names of the Aran Islands are: Inis Mor (Inishmore), Inis Meain (Inishmaan), and Inis Oirr (Inisheer) and here you will find the traditional Irish way of life. The “largest” is Inishmore — characterized by numerous important Celtic Monuments and churches, miles of stone walls, abundant wildlife and 8kms of Cliffs. Dun Aonghas is the most prominent fort which is located on 300 foot cliffs. Most people who visit hire bikes and cycle around the island exploring the various sights. Inishmore has recently been appointed a venue for the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition and has numerous quirky festivals throughout the year such as the Father Ted Festival in February. You will also find year round Traditional Irish Music in the local pubs. The other islands, Inishmaan and Inisheer, are even smaller, much less populated, and less touristic.

Just a 40 minute boat ride from the mainland, the desolate beauty of the Aran Islands feels far removed from contemporary life. An extension of the limestone escarpment that forms the Burren, the island has shallow topsoil scattered with yellow buttercups, white-petalled daisies and spring gentian, and jagged cliffs that are pounded by surf. On the cliff tops, ancient forts such as Dún Aengus on Inishmór and Dún Chonchúir on Inishmaan are some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland.

A web of ancient stone walls (1600km in all) ensnares all three islands like a stone fishing net. These walls serve the dual purpose of keeping sheep and ponies in, and providing a repository for stone dug from the ground to make way for grazing and harvests. The islands also have a smattering of early clocháns (dry-stone beehive huts from the early-Christian period), resembling igloos made from stone.

Inishmór (Arainn in Irish, meaning ‘Big Island’) is the largest and most easily accessible from Galway. The island is home to one of Ireland’s most important and impressive archaeological sites, as well as some lively pubs and restaurants, particularly in its little township Kilronan. The smallest island, Inisheer (Inis Oírr; ‘Eastern Island’), with an impressive arts centre, is also easily reached from Galway year-round and from Doolin in the summer months. Hence Inishmaan (Inis Meáin; ‘Middle Island’), in the centre, tends to be bypassed by the majority of tourist traffic, preserving its age-old traditions and evoking a sense of timelessness.

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