The Day after our trip to the Cliffs of Moher (see here) we visited the island of Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands in the Atlantic Ocean just off Galway Bay. The Aran Islands are recognized as the heart of Gaeltacht Ireland, where Irish is the primary language. A hundred years ago the islands were a remote outpost whose hardy inhabitants fought daily life-or-death battles against the elements. These battles continue today during the long Irish winters but in summer tourists board ferries and flock to the islands to see the ruins, listen to the locals and perhaps purchase a woolen sweater to keep warm when winter approaches.
Inishmore is the largest of the three Aran Islands. Inis Mor means “big island” in Irish. The middle island is Inishmaan (“Inis Meain”), which means “middle island.” Inisheer (“Inis Oirr”) means “east island” and is the smallest of the three islands and the closest to the coast of County Clare.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
Our day began with a walk through Eyre Square to Queen Street to catch the shuttle to the ferry in Rossaveal 34 kilometers away.
It was a 45 minute ride on the shuttle bus from Galway to Rossaveal and a 40 minute ride on the ferry from Rossaveal to the harbor at Kilronan Village on Inishmore.
The population of Inishmore in 1851 was 2312. In 2011 it was 845 but it had gone back up to a tad over 900 by 2016. Inishmaan is the least populated island, going from 503 in 1851 to 157 in 2011 and 183 in 2016. There were 518 people on Inisheer in 1851 and 249 in 2011 and 260 in 2016.
Inishmaan is the least visited of the three islands. There are ferries available to Inishmaan from the other two islands but none from any port on the mainland. It takes 30 minutes for a ferry from Doolin in County Clare to reach Inisheer six miles away. Inisheer is so small that you can walk around the entire island in four hours.
Shortly after disembarking from the ferry we negotiated a deal with a local named Rory Conneely who would be our driver and guide for the rest of the day. After a brief look-around at the sweater market we piled into Rory’s white mini-bus and off we went to tour the island.
Ooh, that’s 29 pictures. I think I have 22 or 23 more. So I will break it off here and continue tomorrow with Part Two of our Aran Island adventure.
Irish Music Bonus — Song for Ireland by Mary Black
English folk singer and songwriter Phil Colclough (1940-2019) and his wife June (1941-2004) wrote Song for Ireland after taking a holiday trip to the Dingle peninsula. The song has become a modern classic and has been recorded by many artists including Mary Black, Enya, and Luke Kelly of the Dubliners.
Mary Black comes from the musical Black Family and she has performed with her sister Frances and brothers Shay, Michael and Martin. She also sang with the Galway-based folk music band De Danann for awhile and has been singing on her own since the late 1980s. Mary has won several Artist of the Year awards and is renowned for her pure voice. Let’s listen to her rendition of Song for Ireland.