Are Aran Islands worth visiting?
If you want to experience some of “Old Ireland” then the Aran Islands are well worth visiting, even if you are in Ireland for less than 2 weeks.
The Aran Islands are a cluster of rocky isles guarding the mouth of Galway Bay,on the West Coast of Ireland. The three islands named Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer are known for their ancient sites Inishmore is the largest of the three islands and Inisheer are the smallest. The total population of all three islands are approximately 1,200 people with Irish and English as their primary languages.
When people talk about islands, one often pictures crowded sandy beaches with plenty of sun and surf action.
At the Aran Islands you will get an island experience like nowhere else. If you expect sandy beaches and rowdy parties, you need to think again. The Aran Islands are known for their serenity and almost “spiritual” atmosphere. The landscape is limestone with miles of stone wales and awesome beaches, many of the isolated and designated blue flag beaches. You will also see a number of pre christian as well as monastic sites.
Stepping back in time.
Modern Ireland has changed over the years with modern cities changing the Irish outdoor lifestyle with modern living. The Aran Islands however retain the old Irish culture and have remained largely untouched by modernization and urban culture.Irish or Gaelic is still widely spoken and the primary language of the Aran island inhabitants. However, most people on the Aran Islands speak fluent English.
Serenity and Tranquility
If you want to rest and relax then the Aran Islands should definitely be on your list. Compromising mostly old Irish Pubs, small Restaurants, and pre-Christian era forts there are no real modern buildings. The open spaces are covered with vast stretches of green countryside, limestone rock, and eternal stone walls. Whether you are taking a walk, a bike ride or spending time angling, you will experience
Panoramic and Isolated scenery
Although the Aran Islands have been inhabited by humans since the Bronze and the Iron Ages there are many places made special by the low number of visitors and a complete absence of any human population. Famous forts include, Dun Aengus which is located on a 300 foot cliff face, The Black Fort, O’Brien’s Castle, Teampull Bheanáin, Teampall an Cheathrair Álainn.
With a history that goes back for more than 5000 years it is no wonder that the Aran Islands have ruins going back to the Bronze Age as well as greatly preserved early Christian era buildings. Medieval forts from the 9th and 10th century as well as churches from that time are located on the islands and are very popular tourist attractions. Inishmore and the Na Seacht Teampaill and Dun Aonghasa,have been classified a World Heritage Site.
Walking, running, climbing, cycling or other outdoor activity, take your pick. There are rock climbing cliffs that are over 300 feet high as well as a number of trails, cycling tracks and large waves for surfing. An outdoor paradise. Dun Aonghasa is the main attraction on Inis Mor Island and is one of the main drawcards of the Wild Atlantic Way. Into diving? Poll na bPéist, which is a naturally occurring wormhole at the base of a cliff that leads to a 91 foot drop, is the venue for the annualRedbull Cliff Diving competition.
Any place is really made by its people and the Aran Islands are no different. People are warm and friendly, welcoming visitors with open arms. As always there are some unusual and quirky customs and traditions which are healthy sources of entertainment for the visitors. The Ted Fest where inhabitants indulge themselves in a drinking fiesta while being dressed as Priests and Nuns is one that comes to mind.
More on this festival here: www.tedfest.org/
Ready for your trip to Ireland? Start here.