The Aran Islands consist of 3 islands in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way, specifically in the mouth of Galway Bay. The three islands include Inishmaan (Inis Meain), Inishmore (Inis Mor) and Inisheer (Inis Oirr). The geology of these islands consists of karst limestone and they support a diverse and rich plant growth. The islands can be accessed from Rossavel (Connemara & Galway) and Doolin year-round by a ferry service or a quick flight.
While English and Irish are both widely spoken in the Aran Islands, this is a well-known Gaeltacht region. Each island has a unique characteristic that attracts tourists; Inishmaan is the quietest of the three and is a place to escape crowds, inishmore is the largest of the three and has been attracting visitors for generations and Inisheer is the smallest but characterized by it’s charm. These islands are collectively known for their stunning landscape, cultural heritage, hand-knitted sweaters and scarves.
The islands are full of things to see including forts, animals and impressive views. There are a variety of different forts including; Dun Aengus, Dun Eoghanact, Dun Eochaill, Dun Aoghasa and Black Fort. These are all popular destinations for tourists. The cliffs are also a great place to check out while walking or cycling. In recent years, The Worm Hole has become a popular destination due to it being a location for Red Bull cliff diving events. A must see for bird watchers is the Inis Mor Seal Colony where you can see numerous seals bathing. There are also little villages such as Kilronan Village and beaches like Kilmurvey Beach to visit. These are a few of the many sights to see in the peaceful Aran Islands.
If you are a more active traveler, there are a number of different activities to do in the Aran Islands. Rock climbing is very popular due to the dramatic cliff surfaces on the islands. Surfing is also a big activity with the big waves on the shores. This activity is increasing in popularity with the increase of surfers in Ireland. The islands also lend themselves to great fishing. In fact, many of the islanders works on fishing boats. Cycling is also a great activity to do on this islands and are a perfect mode of transportation! As mentioned before, bird watchers will love the islands because of the variety of birds along with wild flowers. The island’s peaceful nature makes yoga and meditation an ideal activity.
Even if you’re not into the oudoors,the Aran Islands provide an amazing arts and culture outlet. You’ll find everything form traditional music which is really big on the islands, to basket making and writing groups. In fact, many famous Irish authors have visited the Aran Islands to get in touch with their home country, return to the old ways for a while and gain a bit of inspiration. Their legacy and that of the islands, themselves, lives on in works like John Millington Synge’s The Aran Islands. You’re sure to see a bit of Synge’s literary magic up close and personal when you spend some time on the islands, yourself.
But keep in mind, these activities are merely icing on the cake when it comes to visiting the Aran Islands. There’s something about this region of Ireland that truly captivates all who visit – tourists and Irish natives alike. The ultimate reason for visiting the Aran Islands is finding the epitome of Irish culture. When people around the world close their eyes and picture Ireland, visuals and customs from the Aran Islands are generally what come to mind, whether they realize it or not. From the old stone walls and dirt roads to the centuries-old traditions passed down for generations, there’s a lot to be said for this secluded, rural way of life.
Overall, these islands located 250km from Dublin are the ideal place to visit in Ireland. The serenity on the island makes it a perfect sanctuary from the rush of modern life. The islands have a great mixture of sights and activities to make time spend there both relaxing and historical.