The Aran Islands are located just off the coast of Galway and Doolin and consist of three islands, Inis Mor Island, Inis Meain Island and Inis Oirr Island. They are an extension of the limestone escarpment that forms the Burren, where the jagged cliffs are battered by the waves. A long web of stone wall runs along all three islands and there is some early clochans here, they look like stone igloos but are drystone beehive huts dating to the early Christian era.
It is one of the top island destinations in the world, with people coming to admire their bleak barren beauty. Awaiting you here is a real Irish experience, and you will experience a traditional Irish way of life. Irish is widely spoken here but the locals also speak English. The Islands are accessible from the mainland by either a 45-minute ferry ride or a 10-minute flight. The ferry is all year round from Rossaveal, in Galway city and from April to October from Doolin. Although they are similar in appearance and close in distance they all have their own individual characteristics.
Inis Mor Island is the biggest of the islands and is home to the World Heritage site Dun Aonghasa, an ancient fort that sits on a dramatic 300ft cliff edge. This is one of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland and also one of the most important. There are an additional 50 different ancient sites consisting of stone churches and forts, each with a unique history. You wil also find lively pubs and restaurants in the only town, Kilronan, stop to engage with the locals and hear their stories, or enjoy a traditional music and dance session, sure to get your foot stomping. Rent a bike and see the island at a leisurely pace, or walk around it will take several hours. See the local wildlife and admire the wildflowers, or stop to watch the surfers in water far below. There is much to see and do here, there is always something taking place be it a half marathon, cliff diving, festivals or a yoga retreat.
Inis Meain Island offers an escape from the modern world to a more simpler pace of life, it embraces age old traditions, conjuring up a sense of timelessness. It has a tiny population of just 200 people. It is the place to come for escapism as it is the less visited of the islands, where you can stay in isolated B&B’s and examine the stark rocky vistas. Teach Synge is a famous thatched cottage, it is picture perfect and is where the writer JM Synge spent many summers. Take a walk amongst the hilly landscapes, where you get uninterrupted views of the Cliffs of Moher. It is an ideal spot for divers owing to its crystal clear waters that are alive with marine life. Ot perhaps take a cultural class whilst here, there are a number to choose from including, dance and poetry.
Inis Orr Island is the closest and smallest of the islands at only 3km by 3km, consisting of small hills and elaborate little valley’s, it is accessible by foot or bike. It has its own unique charm, it has the essence of a classical isolated fishing village. The main village area is adjacent to the beach and is surrounded by a small hill. Home to Dun Chonchuir another ancient fort and again one of the oldest archaeological remains in the country. In addition to a good selection of archaeological sites, you will discover engaging walks, traditional culture and a splash of night life, where you can engage in a traditional music session. It is also home to a large arts community located in a centre found on an exposed area on the north side of the island, it hosts visiting arts events, cultural programs and performances. Tobar Einne is a local pilgrimage that is still carried out, the ceremony takes at the Turas to the Well of Enda, a continually bubbling spring situated in a remote rocky area in the southwest. Visit the shipwreck of the Plassy and hear its story. Walk up to the lighthouse, from here the island opens out before you and you get a real sense of its uniqueness and can admire its stunning landscape.