Before we embarked on our week long trip to Ireland, my friends and I did what most people do: We asked around for travel recommendations. “Oh, you totally have to go the Aran Islands,” my friend Matt said. “It was one of my favorite places.”

Indeed, Matt was right. We arrived in the evening from Galway, our giant wheeled suitcases in tow, unsure of what to expect. Could we catch a cab to our Inn? Where could we find a restaurant? More importantly, why hadn’t we done any research on this particular location before we came? We’d read up on every other destination.

Aran Travel Tip #1: It’s more remote than you’re probably expecting (in a good way). There are no taxis and no rental car depots, so plan ahead.

So what are five weary travelers to do when arriving to a remote Irish island after dark? Fortunately, Noel came to our rescue.

 

Noel and girls

Noel and his five feisty charges.

 

 

 

Who is Noel, you ask? Noel Mahon operates an island taxi and touring service. He’s also likely the town crier, unofficial mayor, and constable, we joked. He and his tidy van welcomed us to Inis Mor and he expediently deposited us at our Inn, but not before he volunteered to shuttle us to dinner and recommended a place. And did we want a tour of the island tomorrow for a great price? Of course, Noel, you enterprising genius, you. Of course.

 

After settling in at our Bed and Breakfast, Noel dropped us at Ti Joe Watty’s restaurant for a late dinner. After the long day we’d had we were ravenous and cranky. The leisurely meal, hot drinks and some time in front of the fireplace were exactly what we needed to recharge our batteries. I had a phenomenal baked fish and vegetable mash, which I recommend, but everyone had an excellent meal.

meal

Aran travel tip #2: Don’t expect to rough it, foodwise. Some of the best food we had on our entire trip was on Inis Mor, so come with an appetite.

 

We’d only been there for two hours and I knew my friend Matt was right: friendly, helpful people everywhere and great food. I suspected that a day and a half was not going to be nearly enough to appreciate this rugged, beautiful place.

 

Stay tuned for part 2, when I tell the story of my morning photo walk and Ringy Mingy, the amorous dog.

 

Oh, and I took a whack at recreating the Ti Joe Watty’s vegetable mash when I returned home. Here you go.

About the Author: Mon writes for her food blog www.monsfooduniverse.com