Aran Islands

The Aran Islands: Small but Mighty

by Diana Ditto

April 10, 2024

2 minute read

Isolated from the mainland in the mouth of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands are a contrast of rugged stone and vibrant green fields, a treeless kaleidoscope of slopes and crags. Taking the time to get lost inside the labyrinth of stone walls covering Inishmore, the largest of the three islands, was some of the most fun I’ve had in years.

Although the population is minimal, the homes that inhabit the islands are weather-beaten exercises in practical architecture. They’re also exceedingly charming and picturesque – everything you imagine Ireland to be. On Inishmore, what most impresses me is the unobstructed views of the Cliffs of Moher. I love watching the fishing boats as they stake claim to the turquoise waters, and happier still to watch those same boats arrive at the pristine shore with their day’s haul. The evening’s dinner.

The local community

On the islands, community is everything, and to spend but a moment here is to immerse yourself in this unique way of life. Gaelic is the primary tongue of this archipelago (but don’t worry – the locals are happy to engage in English, too!). You won’t be hard-pressed to find someone willing to share a tale (or two) – maritime legends and tales of Celtic mythology have been born from these islands, and its natives are deeply protective of the country’s oral tradition, which spans centuries.

Perhaps there’s no better way to experience the Aran Islands than to be one of the privileged few who spend a night on Inishmore. This is a true Irish experience, and one unlike any other in the world. Say oiche mhaith – goodnight – to the last ferry departing for the mainland. Free from tourists, it’s just you and the locals for the evening, an experience seldom found in an ever-shrinking world.

An Aran Islands tour is a feast for your mind and soul, kindling a childlike sense of adventure that reaffirms why we love to travel.

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