Dublin is a beautiful city, and is a wonderful place to visit during your time on Ireland’s east coast. However, Ireland’s west coast also has much to offer and is a beautiful place to visit during your stay in Ireland. One of the more rugged areas along the west coast is the Aran Islands, which make for a unique and special experience if you get a chance to visit!
The Aran Islands are made up of three islands just 30 miles away from Galway City. The three islands, Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer, are located in County Galway and are part of the Gaeltacht area where Irish Gaelic is spoken as the first language. The islands have flourishing agriculture, fishing, and wool industries and many of the traditional wool sweaters are shipped worldwide. Tourism is also a growing industry on the island as visitors flock to the islands for their rugged and barren appearance.
To begin a visit to the Aran Islands, you can choose to access the islands by either plane or ferry. The largest of the three islands, and the most visited, is Inishmore. The ferry offers beautiful views of the ocean and a great vista as you approach the islands from the sea. It’s also quite fast and takes only forty minutes to get from the mainland to Inishmore, fifty minutes to Inishmaan, and an hour to Inisheer.
Once on the island, there are several entertaining things to do. First, you can wander around the shops and pick up a genuine hand-knitted wool sweater from a traditional Aran sweater shop! You can also enjoy a slice of Man of Aran fudge, which is a beautiful family owned Fudge Company located on the island.
After you’ve armed yourself with fudge and a sweater to keep you warm, it’s time to head off and explore the island! There are numerous footpaths which circle the island, or you can rent bikes or a horse and carriage to take you around the island. Whichever you choose, be sure to stop along the coast to see the seals basking on the rocks!
Just past the seals is the ancient fort of Dun Aengus. Dun Aengus is a prehistoric fort that is built on top of the cliffs of Inishmore. Much of the structure dates back all the way to the Bronze Age, with other segments of walls in the building dating back to the Iron Age. From up on the fort you can get stunning views of the sheer cliffs and the thrashing waves along the coast of the island.
Finally, make your way back down from the cliffs and head back into town. The ferry runs every hour and will be waiting to pick you up and take you back to the mainland, where you can enjoy a hot cup of tea. The Aran Islands are sure to add excitement to your trip and make for a memorable visit to Ireland!
See you next week for more activities, sights, and events around Ireland!