‘It’s a place of heart.” Máirán Uí Chomáin said to me recently when I explained why I made the trip to Inis Mor with my family.
I couldn’t describe the Aran Islands better. I’ve been born and bred by the sea in the Dublin area. The sea dominates my life. At night I can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below, during the day the sea breeze wafts through the house. I’m never happier than when I’m by the sea. I don’t know why I feel so inextricably linked to the islands. Maybe it’s to do with the sea, perhaps not.
This July I took my family for the first time to the Aran Islands to show them this “place of heart”. As with every visit to the Aran Islands, there wasn’t enough time. We stayed for just one short day and one night. Enough to give them a taster for what it’s like to visit the Islands but we will be back to stay for longer as soon as we can get away.
Why do I visit the Aran Islands? I could give you an answer full of historical significance and heritage, about how there’s nowhere quite like it in the world. You probably already know that though. The Islands are part of who we are. We are a nation of fishermen, farmers, craftspeople, storytellers, carers, teachers and more. Everytime I visit the Islands I am inspired. Be it how to grow food in a polytunnel beside the sea (we also grow food in this way near the sea, just it’s not so windy normally), or to make the most of local produce and cook it so that every ingredient shines, or to learn more Gaeilge and to speak it more with my children, or just to be still and not to stress so much about time.
So now I’m back in Dublin, beside the sea but far away from the Aran Islands. I’ve left a part of my heart there though and we’ll be back. Soon.