Inis Mór (Inishmore)

Inis Mór (Inishmore)

The island of Inis Mór (Inishmore) meaning the big island, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland.  It is Well known internationally with over 50 different monuments of Christian, pre Christian and Celtic mythological heritage. There isn’t far you can go before being somewhere where there’s something of historical interest and little reason to question its importance in modern Irish Culture. The main monuments are listed in the attractions. If you wish to have a mor thorough investigation of the island then checkout the Aran Islands history section which lists a more comprehensive list of sights.

Hotel and Bed and Breakfast accommodation is available on the island as well as Bike Rental or Bike hire. When travelling to Inis Mór it is recommended that you would organise accommodation prior to arriving. Ferries to the Aran Islands  are available from Rossaveal (leaving Galway city) all year and from Doolin (Cliffs of Moher) from April to October.

Árainn Ceilteach – 13th – 15th March 2015

A three day celebration of Celtic music, dance and culture.

Renowned artists from Ireland and the Celtic Diaspora coming together for a unique fusion of our shared culture on the intimate setting of the Aran island of Inis Mor.

Seated concerts and readings, dance floored Ceilis and some of the best pub sessions you will ever have the pleasure of taking part in will create three days of unforgettable Celtic passion.

Puffing Holes

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Weddings, Vow Renewals, and Honeymoons

The Aran Islands have grown to attract people more and more to have as their wedding venue. In the past, people came to the Islands for their honeymoons. I have met many people who have now been here 20-40 years who came for their honeymoons but now there is an increasing number coming out for their wedding ceremony. The people on Inis Mor have in recent times promoted weddings on the Aran Islands and offers itself as venue with special packages for weddings such as the Hotels.

Myself, Dara Molloy, offer Celtic weddings to people so they can be outdoor ceremonies with a Celtic flavor drawing on the Celtic traditional weddings like hand fasting, or a blessing at the holy well within your ceremony. Weddings are very attractive on the Islands and the numbers of people getting married is growing every year. Additionally you have vowel renewals, people who come to renew their vowels at a sacred place on the Island which is a very nice thing to do as they are on holidays. People are also coming to have their babies christened or a naming ceremony for their children. All types of ceremonies take place on the Aran Islands. There are also regular groups who come to the island for Hen Parties of Stag parties. This whole area of life is well catered for on the Aran Islands

 

Surfing

Being that the Island is on the edge of Galway bay, the swells generated make for good surf in certain parts of the Islands. In these times surfers congregate from all parts of the country to take advantage of the big waves. The numbers seem to increase each year with increasing popularity of the sport in Ireland.

Walking

The Aran Islands landscape makes an ideal setting for walkers of all levels. It is relatively flat although there are some relatively modest higher points so one can can get a good vantage of the entire Island. It is a good idea to wear strong shoes if you are venturing towards the cliff face areas as the terrain is rocky or gravel. There are few signposted parts of the island where one needs to walk such as the Blackfort which is about 30 minutes walk from Kilronan Village and is more or less a flat walk.

St Benans church is a little further out past Kileney village and is about ten minutes walk up a small hill. Many people walk from the Black Fort along the cliffs to the bottom point of the Island which takes about an hour, and then around 40 minutes walk back to Kilronan Village. Other walks include venturing up to the lighthouse which is the highest point of the Island. Here you can get a very good view of the Islands. Many people then walk towards the centre of the island and back down to Kilronan. This particular walk is not signposted and is a matter of following the roads.

Another suggested walk is to walk down towards the wormhole when at Dun Aonghasa. This is a walk along the cliff-edge and presents dramatic views. The Worm Hole has recently become more popular since it has become a venue for the Red Bull Cliff diving competition. If one were to do a walked loop of the entire island it would probably take an entire day (roughly 16km ) as the island is 8km long.

Walking on the Aran Islands is one of the most popular activities. With miles and miles of small thin roads criss crossing each other most people just venture out and explore. However for those who wish to cover the islands distinct features, there are a few suggestions that will cover almost everything. The island is not well signposted so make sure you print this page. Its also important to mention to wear strong shoes as the surface is not entirely flat.

The South of the Island Walk: Time 3 -5 hrs

Features: The Black Fort, The Puffing Holes, View of Synge's Chair, Isolated beaches, St Benins Church, close up action of large waves crashing against the rocks, cliff face walking.

This walk starts at the main village of Kilronan.The first port of call is the Black Fort which will take around twenty minutes to get to. If you are waiting a few hours for the boat then this would be an excellent prelude to a trip. From the village, follow the road south. Then turn right at the beach adjacent to the fishing port. You now will be walking towards the other side of the island which is about 800 metres wide. Once over the slightest rise there are wide degrees of open fields covered in rock and the view is most unique and powerful.

The sight of the fort is in view the whole way so its just a matter of walking towards it. People have been known to spend a whole day relaxing here, many have gone for an afternoon sleep and certainly everybody leaves it having it in the "wow factor" category.

Walking towards the Puffing holes: Walking towards the puffing holes at the complete bottom of the island is a walk of majestic isolation and complete intrigue as the landscape of Inis Mor completely unravels itself. This walk is an adventurous one as there is no path. Its just a matter of walking south along the cliffs and paddocks where you will see giant boulders and idiosyncratic stone fences. The closer you get to the bottom of the island around 30-45 minutes, the closer you will get to the waves from the Atlantic as they crash into the rocks. This has a strong ocean roar and is a dramatic sight. Once at the bottom of the island you will come across the Puffing holes. These are holes in the ground at the top of the cliffs and have tunnel like channels that lead down to the water. On days when the seas are rampant, water will rush up and create a spray on the mainland in a similar fashion to the puffing of a whale. If you look further south you see the island of Inis Meain and the cliffs where Synge got his inspiration to write his famous plays.

Walking back to the Village If you follow the natural line of the islands southern tip around , the view of the main village of Kilronan will come into sight once again. This is about 40 mins to an hour to get to walking. but there's a lot to see on the way. Including three isolated beautifully clean beaches.

Teaghlach Éinne( St. Enda’s Household) This is in reference to the graveyard which has a peculiar church that has sunken into the ground. The site of this church is most dramatic.

As you are walking back to after the graveyard you find will be in full view of a small hill that has a church standing at the top of it. This is the smallest church in Ireland and is set in beautifully scenic spot. There is a track leading up to this church and it take around twenty minutes to walk up to. It also has a romantic element to it with its isolation standing over the southern part of the island.

 

The Ring of Aran: Time 3-6 hrs.

The Worm Hole, Dun Aonghasa, The light House, The seal colony, Kilmurvey Beach, The Craft Village, Panoramic Views, Cliff face walking, The Standing Stones.

This is perhaps one the best walks ever designed by nature. Starting at Kilronan Village you will walk to the bar of Joe Watties. This is likely where you will end up for a traditional music session at the end of the walk. Turn right down the road., This is actually known as the forest of Aran as its the only area that has a lot of trees in one area. As you are walking down you will see the 12 pins of Connemara in the distance across Galway bay. The first stop is a monestary of the Tempahll Mainistir. This is about 30 mins after the start of the walk.

At this point the sight of Dun Aonghasa comes into view. This is where the walk will take you to. As you are walking, the lower ridge area will come next to the seal colony which is just past the island's only lake which has swans in it. The sight of Kilmurvery beach will come into view which is another 10 mins.

Once at the Kilmurvery beach, just follow the sign posts to Kilmurvery craft village and Dun Aonghasa. Once spending around an hour in this incredible place, you maybe ready to go off the beaten track completely. On the way down, go over one of the stone fences and walk down along the cliff face. This is a particularly dramatic scene. You will see the view of Dun Aonghasa all the way and its cliff face front on.

The waves also come up to the top of these cliffs on a blustery day and the cliff is 300 ft high so its quite dramatic. On a really rough day the waves go to the top of Dun Aonghasa as well.

If you keep walking down below on the cliffs you can see the worm hole. This is a very peculiar sight and completely made by nature. If wish to walk down to the bottom follow the the walk down to the lower ridge.

From here its walk up to the lighthouse which is at the highest point of the island and has dramatic panoramic views of the Islands and Galway Bay. It is in sight the whole way and its a matter of weaving your way through the thin roads up until you reach the lighthouse. Once you have visited the lighthouse you walk down to the road and then follow it back to the village.

Geneology

Geneology is the search for family history records for past generations. Genealogy has long had an important position in Irish society. In recent times it has been made more popular with the Man of Aran Film and the growth in the popularity of the Aran Sweater which has a unique pattern or stitch on it which identifies a family name.

Archeology and History

The Aran Islands has long held a fascination with Archeologists who are attracted to the artifacts and stone structures on the Islands. Dun Aonghasa is of particular interest as its inherant nature is still somewhat of a mystery to academics. There are occasionally archeology digs on the Islands which reveal more depths of the Islands intriguing history. 

Because of the Aran Islands interesting history and rich cultural traditions, many books have been written about the Aran Islands as well as Films/documentaries been made. Furthermore, the locals on the islands have a rich understanding of the history and happy to share historic tales.

Fishing, Boats & Yachtsman

Fishing on The Aran Islands has always been a key part of the daily way of life. Many Islanders today work on fishing boats which go out into the Atlantic for lengthy periods of time to trawl for fish. When arriving in Kilronan Pier there are always fishing boats docked which present a welcoming sight.

On the Aran Islands you are likely to also see the Galway Hooker which is a distinctive boat to the Galway region and characterized by its curved hull and large red sails. It is a very beautiful sight to view a Galway Hooker and the various Galway Hooker festivals attract international attention.

The Aran also plays host to many casual yachtsman, enjoying Galway Bay especially over the summer months where Kilronan harbour sometimes can resemble the Mediteraiean resorts with its turquoise clear water. It is a very popular stopover indeed!!!.

Casual fishing is also popular on Inis Mor. The pristine beaches, rockside coastal areas are perfect for anglers and are as good as anywhere on the West of Ireland. Deep sea angling is very popular with many local fisherman from the Galway region whom base themselves on the Aran Islands for fishing trips to take advantage of 25 different species of fish including the Blue Shark.

Festivals

The Aran Islands has established itself as a bit of a boutique festival destination especially with the growing popularity of the Father Ted festival which amounts to a lot of fun and laughter. The Aran Islands bars are electric with fanfare, fun and laughter over this weekend. There are also a growing amount of groups coming to the islands attracted by the warm sea air of summer, beaches and just general place to have fun. The Aran Islands is great to get away from it all!!.

Cliff Divers and Rock Climbers

The Aran Islands has long been a destination for Rock Climbers and Cliff Divers due to its dramatic cliff faces. In recent times Cliff Diving has become hugely popular as Inis Mor Island has become a venue for the Red Bull Cliff Diving series. Located at the Serpaints Lair or 'worm hole' which is a naturally occuring square which looks like it is cut out of the rock is where the divers dive into from the cliff. It is a very dramatic sight.

Renewable Energy

Inis Mor Island has had an energy committee for many years and residents are very interested in making the island a more sustainable place to live in and getting rid of oil, gas and coal as well reducing energy consumption. One of the reasons historically for this interest is that islanders pay about 20% extra for oil and gas and coal than people do on the mainland of Ireland because of the extra cost of carriage over sea . Islanders don’t get the bargains that you can sometimes find on the mainland. As there is no competition you have to buy it whatever price it is at so it is 20% higher than on the mainland.

Energy is very expensive and yet when you see around there strong wind blowing, lots of sunshine, a tremendous energy from the power of the sea. We wonder why we cant harness this energy. So at this point of time we now have our community owned energy co-operative representing all three islands and everybody on the three islands to promote this whole idea. We have become very ambitious because not alone do we want to replace oil, coal, and gas with our own renewable energy generated on the island, we want to own the sources of that energy generation, own our own wind turbines, our solar pv panels. We wish to be able to sell this not only to ourselves but to outside sources.

The Aran Islands wants to make itself an example of a community can get its act together in terms of renewable energy. Not just to be self sufficient but also to create an industry and employment. If the Aran Islands can generate our own electricity, get it cheaply and offer it cheaply, then it may attract industries to the Island and generate jobs. This is already being done with the sea salt distillery and an alcohol distillery which use a lot of energy. All the energy they will use will be renewable energy generated on the Aran Islands which will be sold to them. It will also create jobs for people on the islands. Through all of this the hope is that the local homes will become more comfortable and energy become more affordable. Also to create a better employment system for island community which will encourage people to stay here and rear their children and families and to attract tourists to see what we are doing. There are lots of spinoffs from these efforts.

One of the main things we are doing at the moment is that we are insulating peoples homes. In 2014 a quarter of the homes will be completed , bringing them up to a much higher level of insulation than what they would had prior to now. This includes attic, wall insulation, windows and doors, new heating systems, heat pumps instead of oil stoves, solar panels (both water and pv). This gradually removes the dependance on carbon based fuels.

If you are interested, get involved. Get in touch with us.

Irish Language

Considering that the Aran Islands are a native Gaeltacht (Irish Speaking) area, many people choose to attend language courses on the Aran Islands to brush up or learn the Irish language. This is a key feature of the culture of the Aran Islands and their daily life.

Cycling

Cycling on the Aran Islands has been the main method for tourists to get around the islands, and certainly the 30 minute bike ride from the Pier on Inis Mor Island to Dun Aonghasa is established as the most popular cycling route in Ireland. The islands are perfectly suited to cycling with gentle roads and relatively flat circuits. Their small size makes cycling accessible to people of all fitness levels. It is also very easy to explore the island and find complete isolation, as well as being able to visit the historical sites with only the chirping of wild birds to keep you company. Checkout www.aranbikehire.com .

Arts, Crafts and Music

The islands attract many artists and craftspeople of all types. Inis Mor regularly has groups who come who are photographers. I deal with a number of them and I give them some input about the island , about its history and it helps them to focus on a theme for their photographic exploits.

There are regular creative writing groups that attend workshops every year . The island inspires, it is full of stories . Every house, location , mark on the landscape has a story attached to it and there is people here who could tell you those stories and that can enrich your own imagination and get you writing creatively . There is so much room for artists because the light on the island is wonderful. Apart from attracting artists there are a lot of resident artists on the islands. There are also few poets resident on the Island.

People also come to the islands to learn crafts especially the crafts that have practiced on the islands over the centuries. Basket-making is very popular on the Aran islands and there are well established teachers of it running courses. Knitting and its associated crafts are also extremely popular including weaving and spinning wool. Lots of different people on the island practice different crafts and are willing to teach them to others so there is a great opportunity.

Music is also popular and a whole artistic pursuit on the Aran Islands. There is music in bars at night and a lot of music in the children and the adults of the island particularly if you are interested in traditional music, traditional singing, dancing, folk dancing, playing instruments such as the fiddle or violin, accordion, flute. These are the sorts of instruments you will find here and are practiced here. People are attracted here for all sorts of reasons to do with the arts.

Yoga and meditation

In line with the Aran Islands inherant spiritual nature is the practice of Yoga and Meditation. The islands are an ideal place to provide a venue for these activities. There are many arranged meditation and Yoga retreats as well on the island and it is not uncommon in the summer months to see people outside partaking in their chosen spiritual activity.

Wildlife

The Aran Islands is an amazing place for wildlife.

Birds
The Cooku can be heard from the end of April onwards through to May and June. You not only have a good chance of seeing the cooku but hearing them together in unison. You will also witness Swallows at the start of summer, the House-Martins, Curlus, plenty of Pheasants, along with different types of Seabirds along the cliff edges, including Gannets. There are also Lapwings which are also called Plubbers, including golden Plubbers which are in an area of the Inis Mor island all of their own. You will also find the smaller Plubbers, ringed Plubbers, Herrons and a Herron league where they all nest in one place on the island. You might occasionally see a Perawinged Falcon whom breed on the cliffs on Inis Meain, and you might see other types of bird of prey as well. It is an amazing place for wildlife in itself.

There are other types of living beings on the island, The butterflies are various here and there are some experts who may be able to help you if you require more information . If you are lucky you might also see a Stote. Otters who live along the coastline are hard to see as they come out at night. You will find pleanty of rabbits (no Hairs or foxes) . You will also come across lizards sunning themselves on the rocks in summer whom are a very ancient species of animal.

Wild Flowers
We have the most amazing wild flowers because the landscape is similar to the Burren. The beautiful Gentian comes out in April, as well as not only the primroses but the cowslips and even the oxalic , the bloody cranes-ville, birds for trefoil, and beautiful examples of fuchsia growing all over the island. If you are into flowers the Aran Islands is a mecca especially if you come in May. So all in all the wildlife is wonderful especially if you get the fine weather and have a good look around. Bring your binoculars with you or your magnifying glass or camera and make the most of it.

Pilgrimage

These islands have always had a spiritual association for people who lived in ireland . We know that because even 5000 years ago they were putting dalmonds on the islands. These are places where they bury their people in a sacred ritual. Also the ring forts which are all over the three islands are evidence that these people regard the islands as having some type of spiritual energy to them.The location of the forts , particularly Dun Aonghasa and the black fort are just an amazing energywise.

Sacred Places over the Centuries and their changing purpose –

Today, pre Christian sacred places on the islands are often what you see , pre christian sacred sites. But other pre christian sacred sites have morphed into christian sites, Celtic christian, and in some cases moved on to be roman christian. So you get the sort of continuity in the time-line from 500 years ago through to the present day with the site continuing to be used .

Teample Ciaron and its amazing timeline
An example of this would be Teample Chiaron in Mainisitr which is about a mile outside of Kilronan. Today you see a ruin of a church . If you look around carefully you see a standing stone at one end of the church on the outside. On the other end, going to the field next door on the west side, you see a holy well. If you go on the east side onto the fields you see more standing stones. This whole area is a sacred location and the fact that there is a well and an ancient standing stone suggests it was a sacred location even before Christianity.

The holy wells were initially regarded as an entrance into the whomb of the goddess of the earth and she was land on which you walked. So you are walking on her body and when you came across a well you were coming across an entrance into her womb. Thus it was a very sacred place and one which symbolized fertility. That is where the rounds of a well as a tradition began because people started doing the rounds of these sacred places in imitation of the sun going around the earth. There is a whole mythology behind these holy wells. This is where the history of the sacred site of Teamplall Ciaron would have begun.

Furthermore, prior to Christianity, the Celtic Monks arrived and decided to build monastery Ciaron. This Monastery was built in the 6th century and was to be a Celtic Monastery. So this was very Irish in its expression of Christianity. This remained a Celtic monastery until the Norman Invasion of the 12th century so that is 600 years. Then was switched over, whilst continuing to be a monastery but now following more European Roman Catholic rules of Christianity. And it continued then on to the Chinese reformation in about the 16th century. It then went on to ruin and everything closed down. Even today people still go and visit it, prey at it, go to the holy wells. So there is a continuity to it the whole time that it started 5000 years ago and continues to this day.

A unique concentration of Sacred Places
The Aran Islands doesn’t just have one place like teampall ciaron to visit which has this amazing timeline, but you have over 50 of these places. You will never get to see them all because some of them are difficult to find but there are quite a number which are clearly visible on the landscape such as teampla ciaron. These include the 7 churches which are monastic sites, the remains of the monastery of St Enda itself, the Monastery of Kilmurvey , St Colmans church.

All the way across Inis Mor Island, about every 200 metres you will find the remains of some monastic presence, either a hermit cell, a beehive hut, a stone cross carved on it, a burial place, a holy well , or a church . It is a wonderful place to visit if you are interested in sacred sites, pilgrimage and everything along with it. It is the right place to come learn about celtic spirituality especially if you have a guide with you who can bring you to these locations and talk about the spirituality that was lived in those places.

The Spiritually Orientated – your own spiritual purpose

You don’t have to be on pilgrimage and you don’t have to be focused on Christianity or Celtic Spirituality because the islands have a spiritual energy about them no matter what your spirituality is or where you are coming from in terms of your beliefs.

Inis Mor Island plays host to a zen Buddhist group who visit every summer for a retreat of up to 2 weeks. They live here and they do all their meditation in a building on the island that is dedicated to spiritual purposes, Killeany Lodge. Other various accommodation options are also available. People come to the Aran Islands for their own reasons, some are shamanic in their orientation, others might be interested in walking in nature and finding the sacred places on the island and tuning into it. There have been groups who have come for revision quests. These would be native American in background and they bring people to the islands as a place for them to go on a vision quest so they go out into the wilderness of the islands, and there are plenty of places on the island which are totally isolated where you won't see a sole or anything like an electric cable or car or bike, totally out in the wild and you can get in touch with your inner self.

There are plenty of people living out on the Islands who have been attracted here because of this spiritual energy of the place who approach spirituality from many different angles such as meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices that wouldn’t fall neatly into any one religion or religious tradition. So no matter what your orientation is the island might have something to offer you in terms of a spiritual resource.

Aran Islands Half Marathon 11th – 13th April 2014

For many years Aer Arann Islands has been the proud sponsor of the Aran Islands Half Marathon. The goal of this marathon is to raise money for various charities, both local and nationwide.

Aran Islands in the Movies

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In this blend of documentary and fictional narrative from pioneering filmmaker Robert Flaherty, the everyday trials of life on Ireland's unforgiving Aran Islands are captured with attention to naturalistic beauty and historical detail.

 

 

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Filmed partly in The Aran Islands; Leap Year.  Anna Brady plans to travel to Dublin, Ireland to propose marriage to her boyfriend Jeremy on Leap Day, because, according to Irish tradition, a man who receives a marriage proposal on a leap day must accept it.

 

 

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Filmed on the Aran Islands for segments of the movie, Marcy, a worker in the reelection campaign of bumbling Senator John McGlory, is sent to Ireland on a quest to find the Irish ancestry of Sen. McGlory, to help him win the Irish vote. But when Marcy arrives in the small village of Ballinagra, she finds herself in the middle of a matchmaking festival, and the local matchmaker is determined to pair her off with one of the local bachelors.

Music, Song and Dance

This is the main form of entertainment. Traditional music sessions both organised and impromptu are held in the pubs on the islands. Classes in all instruments are also available during the winter. Set and Céilí dancing is also done. Sean Nós singing( that is old style solo and unaccompanied) is one of the most ancient form of traditional singing in the western world. It is the most popular form of singing on the islands and is widely performed.

Halloween 2014 : Friday, October 31
Red Bull Cliff Diving – June 28 – 29 2014 Inis Mór Island

Red Bull Cliff Diving returns to the Serpent's Lair on Inis Mór for the third competition of the year. After a dramatic visit to the rugged west coast of Ireland in 2012, the world's elite cliff divers are back for more in 2014 for two days of competition on June 28-29!

It’s pure, it’s fast and it’s jaw dropping. Cliff divers leap aesthetically from almost three times the Olympic height and hit the water protected only by their concentration, skill and physical control. For more about Red Bull Cliff Diving make sure to check out the official website www.redbullcliffdiving.com.

Summer Solstice – June 21st

The Bonfire night on St. John’s Eve, or Summer Solstice, is locally held event on Inis Mor Island and...................

Tedfest 8 ; Feb 27 – March 2 2014

Feb 27 - March 2 2014

'So we'll all meet every year at the end of February on a small island in the Atlantic'

'That's mad Ted' http://www.tedfest.org

Kilmurvey Blue Flag Beach

Kilmurvey is a beautiful white sand sheltered beach just off the road between Kilronan and Dun Aengus. The beach is situated in a cove and as such is not subject to the same strong currents that some of the beaches on Inis Mor are. On a sunny day the water is crystal clear and very inviting and invigorating!

Gaelic Language
Leaba Dhiarmada agus Gráinne( the bed of Diarmaid and Gráinne)

On Inis Mór in the village of Corrúch there is a fine example of a Megalithic or Stone Age wedge tomb. This is a massive stone structure dating from about 2,500BC. It is thought it may have been used as both a place of ritual and a burial ground. It is one in a number of such structures found on the islands and elsewhere in Ireland especially in the Munster region. Traditionally this type of structure is known as Leaba Dhiarmada agus Gráinne( the bed of Diarmaid and Gráinne). This name is a reference to the young couple who mythology tells us slept at these sites on their journey around Ireland. There are three wedge tombs on Inis Mór at Eochaill, Corrúch and Fearann an Choirce

Leachtaí Cuimhneacháin (Stone Memorials for Dead)

These large cenotaphs( Leachtaí Cuimhneacháin) are to be found throughout Inis Mór and are a definite curiousity for the visitor. Most are situated along the roadside between Cill Éinne and Eoghanacht and date from the 19th century c. 1811-1886. The oldest three however dating from the early 1700s are found inland at Cill Éinne. The cenotaphs are erected as memorials to certain families among them; the Fitzpatricks, Mc Donaghs, Dirranes, Wiggans, Mullens, Gills, O Donnells, Naughtons, Conneelys, Hernons, and Folens. The inscriptions on them are written in English. Local Lore has it quite erroneously that they are the graves of people who were buried standing upright! Leacht na nIascaire( The Memorial to the Fishermen)
This overlooks Cill Éinne bay and is situated on the northern-shore side of the road at the village of Cill Éinne. It is a modern cenotaph built by the islanders in 1997 and dedicated to all who have drowned at sea. There are extensive names on it dating from the early 19th century. Each year on August 15th there is a memorial service at it for those who lost their lives at sea.

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War of Independence Memorial

Memories of the British Black and Tans forces visiting Inis Mór survives. Fifty of them arrived on the island in 1920 in search of three volunteers on the run. They rampaged and terrified the community. A stone on the lower road( Bóthar ó Thuaidh) marks the spot where islander Lawrence Mac Donagh who was on his way to mass was shot dead by them.

Túr Mháirtín

Located in the village of Iar- Áirne in the extreme eastern tip of the island this is a small dry stone tower over looking Gregory’s sound, the stretch of water between Inis Meáin and Inis Mór. In former times it may have been a look-out post. Legend on the islands has it that St Gregory was buried here.

Caisleán Uí Bhriain

Located in a field to the north of the village of Eoghanacht is the remains of what is thought to have been a tower house. Known locally as an Seanchaisleán it is said to be the remains of an early O Brien stronghold. This is quite probable as the O Briens were dominant chieftains both in Munster and on the islands for centuries. It is likely that they would have had close links with the nearby Seven Churches whose founder Naomh Brecáin came from Co. Clare and whose monastery probably enjoyed their patronage.

Caisleáin Aircín (Arkyn Castle)

This is situated on the shore side of the road before Cill Éinne pier and village. The site probably marked the location of an O Brien stronghold. English occupation in the 1580s, however, saw the building of the castle. Following the arrival of Cromwell in the mid 17th century it was further fortified using the masonry from the nearby round tower and churches. Little remains of it today.

Dún Eoghanachta

This fort is found in the western head of the island in the townland of Eoghanacht south of the village of Sruthán. It consists of a circular single two terraced wall of an impressive height. There are the remains of several Clocháin(stone houses) inside. The fort takes its name from the Eoghanacht tribe of Munster who were associated with the island in Medieval times. Exact dates are not known but it is probably Iron Age.

Dún Eochla

This fort is found in the middle of the island south of the village of Eochaill from which it gets its name. Eochaill meaning Yew wood. The fort is circular and consists of two terraced walls. Exact dates are not known but it is thought to be somewhat later than Dún Aonghasa possibly late Iron Age. It is easily accessed from the main road. Nearby are the remains of an early nineteenth century Light House which while on the highest point of the island was too badly placed to ever have been of any effective use.

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Dún Dúchathair ( the Black fort)

This fort is situated on the cliffs at Cill Éinne, (Killeany )Inis Mór. Some visitors enjoy the solitude of it in contrast with the busyness of Dún Aonghasa. The fort consists of a terraced wall surrounding the remains of some early dwelling houses known as Clocháns( stone houses). Excavations have not been out carried yet so exact dates cannot be given but it is thought to be possibly contemporary with Dún Aonghasa. It is understood that the name the Black Fort comes from the dark coloured limestone which is characteristic of this particular area on the island.

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Clochán na Carraige

This is the island’s best example of an old dry stone house. It is signposted in a field to the north along the road from Cill Mhuirbhigh to Sruthán village. Dating from the early Christian period it is rectangle in shape( about 6m by 2. 1/2m). It has two opposing doorways in the traditional manner and a small window to the south west. The corbelled or beehive roof is a fine example of its kind.

Altóir Cholmcille

This is a stone altar with an early inscribed cross on it along the shore between Cill Rónáin and Cill Éinne. It is not sign posted and one would need to ask directions. It seems to have been erected on an old mound possibly a Megalithic site. The traditional pilgrimage or turas is made at this site each year on St Colm Cille’s feats day- June 9th. Seven stones are picked by each pilgrim from the stone vat on the altar and seven rounds are made sunwise( turas deiseal) of the grassy knoll. The water from the nearby overhanging cliff is collected and believed to hold curative powers.

Teampall Bhreacáin( St Brecan’s Church)

Teampall Bhreacáin( St Brecan’s Church) is a large multi period church c. 8th-13thTeampall an Phoill ‘ (the Church of the Hollow) is a 15th century church smaller and simpler in style. The remains of a number of penitential beds and fragments of decorated crosses are also to be found on site most notably Leaba Bhreacáin and leaba an Spioraid Naoimh. There are also a number of interesting cross inscribed stones and graves in the south east corner of the site. One of these has the words ‘ V11 ROMANI’ The Seven Romans written on it and another has Tomas AP( Thomas the Apostle). There used be two Holy Wells -now enclosed-Tobar an Spioraid Naoimh and Tobar Bhreacáin on site. century. It contains fine massive masonary with an impressive arch, nave and chancel. An inscribed stone in the west gable reads ‘ OR AR 11 CANOIN’ ‘ Pray for the Two Canons’.

Teampall na Naomh( The church of the Saints)

Teampall na Naomh( The church of the Saints) is located behind the visitors centre at Dún Aonghasa. Nothing is known of this church which is simple and rectangular in shape.

Teampall Mac Duach and Teampall na Naomh

Both of these early churches are in the heart of the village of Cill Mhuirbhigh. Teampall Mac Duach( the Church of St. Mac Duach) is in the grounds of Kilmurvey House B&B. It is an early possibly 8th –9th century church dedicated to St Colmán Mac Duach who founded one of the most important monastic sites of Connacht, Cill Mac Duach( Kilmacduagh), Co. Galway. The massive stone masonry is characteristic of this early period as is the door way with inclined jambs. A stone on the outer northern wall has a carving of an animal with a long body small head and bushy tail. It is thought locally to be a horse. A tall cross-inscribed pillar stands west of the church.

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Leaba Asurnaí( St Sourney’s bed)

Leaba Asurnaí( St Sourney’s bed) a rectangular stone marked by a slender pillar stone lies north west of the church. St Sourney’s well to the north west of the pillar stone is a large bullaun stone which is said to never run dry. A thorn tree is revered as her tree.

Teampall Asurnaí( St Sourney’s Church)

This small ruined church is situated in the village of Eochaill and can be accessed by following the sign-post from the lower road, (Bóthar ó Thuaidh). It is the only foundation attributed to a female patron on the island. No one is sure who Asurnaí was. Legend says she retired to Aran from Drumcoo near Kilcolgan, Co. Galway. Local folklore tells us she must have been a tiny sized woman because her church is extremely small in size.

Tobar an Ceathrar Álainn( The Well of the Four Beauties)

In a field south of the church lies Tobar an Ceathrar Álainn( The Well of the Four Beauties). Its waters are reputed to have healed a blind boy from Mayo or Sligo in the 19th century. This well and its associated legend was the source of inspiration for John Millington Synge’s play ‘ The Well of the Saints’. Islanders pray and do the rounds at this well regularly. The special day of celebration is 15th August when the community comes together to pray at the site.

Teampall an Ceathrar Álainn( The Church of the Four Beauties)

Teampall an Ceathrar Álainn( The Church of the Four Beauties) is found in the village of Corrúch in the middle of the island of Inis Mór. Dating from about the 15th century it is a small church built in Gothic style. The doorway is beautifully pointed. In the east window stands a statue of Our Lady which was donated to the site by local woman Bridget Dirrane on her 100th birthday. Bridget lived to be 109 years old . She wrote the book ‘ Woman of Aran’( Dublin 1997). The four beauties are said to be buried under the stone flags in an enclosure to the east of the church. These flags are said to have healing powers. Local lore is un-certain as to who the four beauties are but they are improbably identified on a wall-plaque as; SS Conall, Berchan, Brendan of Birr and Fursey.

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Tobar Chiaráin( St Ciaráin’s Well)

Tobar Chiaráin( St Ciaráin’s Well). It is also known as Tobar an Bhradáin ( the well of the salmon). Tradition has it that the well miraculously produced a large salmon big enough to feed 150 monks. Pilgrim rounds are traditionally done at the well by the community on St Ciarán’s feast day, 9th September.

Teampall Chiaráin

Teampall Chiaráin is in the village of Mainistir (meaning monastery). It is said to have been founded by St Ciarán of Clonmacnoise who studied here under St Enda before sailing up the Shannon to establish his foundation at Clonmacnoise. The church which dates from about 12th century stands on the old site of Mainistir Chonnacht. Several cross-decorated slabs stand near the church. These may be old Tearmann crosses( boundary crosses). The most striking one is immediately to the east of the church. It is well decorated and has a hole in it indicating it may have been used as a sundial. Traditionally islanders draw a handkerchief or scarf through the hole for luck or fertility.

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Childrens Playground & basketball court

The island of Inismore has some facilities that are handy for tourists. One of these is the modern childrens playground. Another is the basketball courty.

 
Flora & Fauna

The close proximity of the Gulf Stream makes for a mild and pleasant climate and also encourages a unique mixture of all year round Alpine and Mediterranean flora. In spring and early summer countless tiny stone walled chemical free fields exude the powerful intoxicating aroma of brightly coloured wild flowers. Many unusual wild birds live on or visit the Island. The sea surrounding the Island is still startlingly clean and all the beautiful Island beaches are safe and usually uncrowded. The Island is low lying and attracts little rain while enjoying a great deal of sunshine

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Traditional Island Music, Song and Dance

This is the main form of entertainment. Traditional music sessions both organised and impromptu are held in the pubs on the islands. Classes in all instruments are also available during the winter. Set and Céilí dancing is also done. Sean Nós singing( that is old style solo and unaccompanied) is one of the most ancient form of traditional singing in the western world. It is the most popular form of singing on the islands and is widely performed.

Island Daily Life

The chief source of livelihood on the islands is fishing, tourism and farming. Fishing includes both on-shore and off-shore from small boat and deep sea trawler. The traditional Curach boat is still used by some on the islands (cf. Picture). Mackeral, Pollock, Rock fish and many other fish types as well as shellfish, seals and dolphins are all part of the aquatic life of the islands. There is a seal colony on the shore at Corrúch village, Inis Mór. ( Photo) The visitor can enjoy a day’s angling on-shore and off -shore.

Island Writers

The islands are renowned for their writers. One of Ireland’s foremost Irish language poets of the 20th century Máirtín Ó Direáin was born and raised in the village of Sruthán on Inis Mór. Liam O Flaherty the world renowned bi-lingual novelist and short story writer was from the village of Gort na gCapall in Inis Mór. The present day modern Irish writer Darach Ó Chonghaile was born on Inis Meáin and now lives in Inis Oírr.

The islands have had an influence on world literature and arts disproportionate to their size. The unusual cultural and physical history of the islands has made them the object of visits by a variety of writers and travellers who recorded their experiences.

Beginning around the late 19th Century, many Irish writers travelled to the Aran Islands; Lady Gregory, for example, came to Aran in the late nineteenth century to learn Irish.

Many wrote down their experiences in a personal vein, alternately casting them as narratives about finding, or failing to find, some essential aspect of Irish culture that had been lost to the more urban regions of Ireland. A second, related kind of visitor were those who attempted to collect and cataloge the stories and folklore of the island, treating it as a kind of societal "time capsule" of an earlier stage of Irish culture. Visitors of this kind differed in their desires to integrate with the island culture, and most were content to be considered observers. The culmination of this mode of interacting with the island might well be Robert J. Flaherty's 1934 classic documentary Man of Aran.

One might consider John Millington Synge's The Aran Islands as a work that straddles these first two modes, it being both a personal account and also an attempt at preserving information about the pre- (or a-) literate Aran culture in literary form. The motivations of these visitors are best exemplified by W. B. Yeats' advice to Synge: "Go to the Aran Islands, and find a life that has never been expressed in literature." In the second half of the twentieth century, up until perhaps the early 1970s, one sees a third kind of visitor to the islands. These visitors came not necessarily because of the uniquely "Irish" nature of the island community, but simply because the accidents of geography and history conspired to produce a society that some found intriguing or even beguiling and that they wished to participate in directly. It should be emphasized that at no time was there a single "Aran" culture: any description must be necessarily incomplete and can be said to apply completely only to parts of the island at certain points in time. However, those visitors of this third kind that came and stayed were attracted to the aspects of Aran culture that were:

  1. Isolated from mainstream print and electronic media, and thus reliant primarily on local oral tradition for both entertainment and news.

  2. Rarely visited or understood by outsiders.

  3. Strongly influenced in its traditions and attitudes by the unusually savage weather of Galway Bay.

  4. In many parts characterized by subsistence, or near-subsistence, farming and fishing.

  5. Adapted to the absence of luxuries that many parts of the Western world had enjoyed for decades and in some cases, centuries.

For these reasons, the Aran Islands were "decoupled" from cultural developments that were at the same time radically changing other parts of Ireland and Western Europe. Though visitors of this third kind understood that the culture they encountered was intimately connected to that of Ireland, they were not particularly inclined to interpret their experience as that of "Irishness."

Instead, they looked directly towards ways in which their time on the islands put them in touch with more general truths about life and human relations, and they often took pains to live "as an islander," eschewing help from friends and family at home. Indeed, because of the difficult conditions they found -- dangerous weather, scarce food -- they sometimes had little time to investigate the culture in the more detached manner of earlier visitors. Their writings are often of a much more personal nature, being concerned with understanding the author's self as much as the culture around him.

This third mode of being in Aran died out in the late 1970s due in part to the increased tourist traffic and in part to technological improvements made to the island, that relegated the above aspects to history. Perhaps the best literary product of this third kind of visitor is An Aran Keening, by Andrew McNeillie, who spent a year on Aran in 1968. Another, Pádraig Ó Síocháin, a Dublin author and lawyer, learning to speak Gaelic to the fluency of an islander became inextricably linked to the Aran handknitters and their Aran Sweaters, extensively promoting their popularity and sale around the world for nearly forty years. A fourth kind of visitor to the islands, still prominent today, comes for spiritual reasons often connected to an appreciation for Celtic Christianity or more modern New Age beliefs, the former of which finds sites and landscapes of importance on the islands. Finally, there are many thousands of visitors who come for broadly touristic reasons: to see the ruins, hear Irish spoken (and Irish music played) in the few pubs on the island, and to experience the often awe-inspiring geology of cliffs. Tourists today far outnumber visitors of the four kinds discussed above. Tourists and visitors of the fourth kind, however, are under-represented as creators of literature or art directly connected to the island; there are few ordinary "travelogues" of note, perhaps because of the small size of the islands, and there are no personal accounts written about Aran that are primarily concerned with spirituality. Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran: LabyrinthStones of Aran: Pilgrimage (1989), and his accompanying detailed map of the islands is another resource on the Aran Islands. It is an exhaustive, but not exhausting, survey of the Aran geography and its influence on Aran culture from the iron age up to recent times.

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Wikipedia contributors (2006). Visiting Artists. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. August 7, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aran_Islands

Island History

Megalithic- Stone Age Aran Islands
The first peoples populated the islands around 3,000BC. Where they came from we are not sure but they are likely to have come in from the mainland of Ireland. These first people built in stone. Stone-age or Megalithic monuments can be found on the three islands. A wedge tomb dating from 2,500BC such as that found at Corrúch in Inis Mór is a typical example.

On Inis Mór in the village of Corrúch there is a fine example of a Megalithic or Stone Age wedge tomb. This is a massive stone structure dating from about 2,500BC. It is thought it may have been used as both a place of ritual and a burial ground. It is one in a number of such structures found on the islands and elsewhere in Ireland especially in the Munster region. Traditionally this type of structure is known as Leaba Dhiarmada agus Gráinne( the bed of Diarmaid and Gráinne). This name is a reference to the young couple who mythology tells us slept at these sites on their journey around Ireland. There are three wedge tombs on Inis Mór at Eochaill, Corrúch and Fearann an Choirce

 

Bronze and Iron Age Aran Islands
The second main phase of occupation on the islands is what is referred to as the Bronze Age civilisation. This dates from about 1500 BC to 500BC. It so called because of the bronze objects made by these people. Cnoc Raithní in Inis Oírr is an example of a bronze age burial mound in which various bronze objects were found( cf. Monuments of Inis Oírr). Bronze age objects were also found at Dún Aonghasa one of the great stone forts of the islands. The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age and the arrival of the Celts. The Iron Age is so called because the people used Iron. The Celts were especially famous in Europe for their smithcraft. Some of the forts are also thought to be iron age.

Stone Forts of the Aran Islands
The Irish word Dún means fort and the islands are famous for their stone forts. These are thought to date from the late Bronze age( 1100BC) through to the Iron age (300BC-500AD). There are a number of forts found on the three islands. They are part of a complex of such structures found along the west coast of Ireland from Donegal in the north to Kerry in the south. Over the past decade a number of these forts including Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór have been excavated as part of ‘ The Western Stone Forts Project’. What the function of these forts was is unclear. Some suggest as well as being habitation sites they may also have been used for ritual purposes.

 

The Aran Jumper

The Aran (or Arran) jumper/sweatertakes its name from the Aran Islands, was popular in the fishing villages on and islands off the West Coast of Ireland, or from the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. They are distinguished by their use of complex textured stitch patterns, several of which are combined in the creation of a single garment. The word choice of 'jumper' or 'sweater' (or indeed other options such as 'pullover' and 'jersey')is largely determined by the regional version of English being spoken. In the case of Ireland and Britain 'jumper' is the standard word with 'sweater' mainly found in tourist shops. To be even more respectful/aware of the local culture the word used in Irish Gaelic is 'geansaí' and in Scottish Gaelic 'geansaidh' (both pronounced "gahnzee").

Originally the jumpers were knitted using unscoured wool that retained its natural oils or lanolin which made the garments water-resistant and meant they remained wearable even when wet. It was primarily the wives of Island fishermen who knitted the jumpers.

Some stitch patterns have a traditional interpretation often of religious significance. The honeycomb is a symbol of the hard-working bee. The cable, an integral part of the fisherman's daily life, is said to be a wish for safety and good luck when fishing. The diamond is a wish of success wealth and treasure. The basket stitch represents the fisherman's basket, a hope for a plentiful catch.

Traditionally an Aran jumper is made from undyed cream-coloured báinín (pronounced bawneen), a yarn made from sheep's wool, sometimes "black-sheep" wool. They were originally made with unwashed wool that still contained natural sheep lanolin, making it to an extent water-repellent. Up to the seventies the island women spun their own yarn on spinning wheels.

The jumper, locally called a geansaí, usually features 4–6 texture patterns each of which is about 2–4 inches in width, that move down the sweater in columns from top to bottom. Usually the patterns are symmetrical to a centre axis extending down the centre of the front and back panel. The patterns also usually extend down the sleeves as well. The same textured knitting are also used to make socks, hats, vests and even skirts.

There is debate about when island residents first started making the jumpers. Some have suggested that the jumper is an ancient design that has been used on the island for hundreds of years. Proponents of this theory often point to a picture in the Book of Kells that appears to depict an ancient "Aran jumper". Also many megaliths around Europe depict similar patterns as those used in the knitting, which are carved into the stone, and date back several thousand years. However it is more likely that the knitting stitches were modeled on these than that they evolved contemporaneously.

Most historians agree that far from being an ancient craft, aran knitting was invented as recently as the early 1900's by a small group of enterprising island women, with the intention of creating garments not just for their families to wear but which could be sold as a source of income.

The first Aran knitting patterns were published in the 1940s by Patons of England after being supplied by Ó Máille's shop in Galway. Ó Máille's was also responsible for most of the costuming used the filming of The Quiet Man in 1951. Vogue magazine carried articles on the garment in the 1950s, and jumper exports from the west of Ireland to the United States began in the early 1950s.

The development of the export trade during the 1950's and 1960's took place after P.A. Ó Síocháin organised an instructor, with the help of an IDA Ireland grant, to go to the islands and teach the knitters how to make garments to standard international sizings. Knitting became an important part of the island's economy and during the 1960's, even with all available knitters recruited from the three islands he had difficulty in fulfilling orders from around the world.

Aran jumpers are sometimes sold as a "fisherman sweater", indicating that the jumper was traditionally used by the islands' famous fishermen. It is said that each fisherman (or their family) had a jumper with a unique design, so that if he drowned and was found maybe weeks later on the beach, his body could be identified. There is no record of any such event ever taking place.

This misconception may have originated with J.M. Synge's 1904 play 'Riders to the Sea', in which the body of a dead fisherman is identified by the hand-knitted stitches on one of his garments. However, even in the play there is no reference to any decorative or Aran type pattern. The garment referred to is a plain stocking and it is identified by the number of stitches, the quote being "it's the second one of the third pair I knitted, and I put up three score stitches, and I dropped four of them".

There is also some doubt about whether Aran jumpers were ever widely used by fishermen and many argue that the original jumpers with their untreated yarn would not have been suitable for this use. They were quite thick and stiff, which would probably restrict the movements of a fisherman. On the other hand these garments were the only form of hardy clothing they had to weather the Atlantic Ocean storms in. Islanders can be seen wearing them in photographs taken early in the last century.

Arising from the myth above is a widely believed misconception that Aran patterns have clan associations, somewhat like Scottish tartan. Although sometimes used as a marketing device, there is no evidence for any such association even among families who lived on the Islands. Only a relatively small number of family names are or were ever found on the Aran Islands and the majority of Irish families have no history of either wearing or knitting jumpers of any particular pattern.

While in the past the majority of jumpers and other Aran garments were knit by hand, today the majority of items on sale in Ireland and elsewhere are either machine knit or produced on a hand loom. There are very few people still knitting jumpers by hand on a commercial basis.

Machine knit jumpers tend to use finer wool and have less complex patterns, since many of the traditional stitches cannot be reproduced this way. They are the least expensive option. Hand looming allows more complicated stitches to be used, will have more stitches to the inch and be thicker. The best quality hand loomed sweaters are almost indistinguishable from hand knit. Hand knit jumpers tend to be more tightly knit, to have more complex stitch patterns and to be longer lasting and they attract a significant price premium. By holding them up to light the difference between the machine knit and hand kits is self-evident.

Wikipedia contributors (2006). Aran Jumper. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 23, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aran_sweater

 

The Man of Aran Film

In 1934 Robert Flaherty launched the ‘ Man of Aran’ film. Filmed on location in Inis Mór it describes the life of the islands and in particular shows the struggle inherent in earning a living from the Atlantic Ocean. When the film was released it was hailed as one of the greatest films ever made and triggered a new wave of interest in the islands among the Irish, European and American public. Islanders generally hold that it marked the start of the modern tourism era.

Nineteeth Century Antiquarianism on the Aran Islands

In 1684 noted scholar and antiquarian Roderic O Flaherty wrote’ A Chorographical Description of West or H-Iar Connaught’ in which he described his travels around West Connacht including the Aran Islands. This is the only description we have of the islands from this period until the nineteenth century. In that century Ireland experienced a cultural revival and the Aran Islands became one of its hubs. Noted antiquarians such as John O Donovan, George Petrie, Sir Samuel Ferguson, Sir William Wilde and Thomas Westropp each in their turn surveyed and documented the islands built heritage.

 

Literary figures of the Anglo Irish literary movements such as W.B Yeats, John Millington Synge and Lady Gregory came to draw on the folklore and folklife of the islands in their work.

Committed Irish language revivalist such as Patrick Pearse and Fr. Eoghan O Growney established a branch of Conradh na Gaeilge on the islands and spent time learning the local dialect and idiom .

Kilmurvey Craft Village

The Kilmurvey Craft Village is a favourite spot to visit for most people. Consisting of a handful of celtic inspired crafts people it has its atmosphere. All people who visit Dun Aonghasa pass though this little area.

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Na Seacht dTeampaill( the Seven Churches)

Situated in the west of Inis Mór at the village of Eoghanacht the seven churches or Dísert Bhreacáin as it is also known was for centuries one of the biggest monastic foundations and centres of pilgrimage along the west coast of Ireland. Breacan is believed to have come here in the earliest period from Kilbrecan near Quin in County Clare. Tradition on the island has it that his foundation rivalled St Enda’s foundation in the east of the island. Indeed the two saints are held to have eventually agreed to divide the island between them. Although termed ‘ the seven churches’ there are in fact only two churches with a number of domestic buildings. The title seven is possibly an allusion to the pilgrimage circuit of Rome which incorporated seven churches.
Teampall Bhreacáin( St Brecan’s Church) is a large multi period church c. 8th-13th century. It contains fine massive masonary with an impressive arch, nave and chancel. An inscribed stone in the west gable reads ‘ OR AR 11 CANOIN’ ‘ Pray for the Two Canons’. Teampall an Phoill ‘ (the Church of the Hollow) is a 15th century church smaller and simpler in style. The remains of a number of penitential beds and fragments of decorated crosses are also to be found on site most notably Leaba Bhreacáin and leaba an Spioraid Naoimh. There are also a number of interesting cross inscribed stones and graves in the south east corner of the site. One of these has the words ‘ V11 ROMANI’ The Seven Romans written on it and another has Tomas AP( Thomas the Apostle). There used be two Holy Wells -now enclosed-Tobar an Spioraid Naoimh and Tobar Bhreacáin on site.

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Teampall Bhean’in (St Benan’s Church)

This is reputedly the smallest church in Ireland. It stands atop a hill overlooking Cill Éinne Bay and is a landmark on the island for fishermen at sea. In contrast with churches elsewhere in Ireland it has a north south orientation. It dates from about the 7th century. The views from it are outstanding. Nearby are the remains of a cashel wall and a clochán( stone cell).

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Teaghlach Einne( St. Enda’s Household)

One of the earliest monasteries in Ireland was established on Inis Mór in the 5thcentury by St Enda. A native of the east coast of Ireland Enda was granted land on Inis Mór where he established his monastery at Cill Éinne. The village of Cill Éinne which literally means Enda’s church takes its name from the monastery. The remains of an early 8th century church known as Teaghlach Éinne( Enda’s Household) can be seen in the graveyard at Cill Éinne. The remains of a decorated 11th century high cross are also in the ruins of the church. It is said that Enda and 120 other saints are buried in this graveyard which is still in use today.

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Beaches

The three islands are noted for their sandy sheltered beaches and interesting shorelines. On Inis Mór there is a blue flag beach at Cill Mhuirbhigh which is safe for swimming(cf. Map). In Inis Oírr there is an idylic cove at the main landing pier known as An Trá Mór( The big beach). In Inis Meáin there are numerous sandy coves. There are also storm and block beaches throughout the islands evidence of the power of the Atlantic.

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The Worm Hole

This is a remarkable feature and a major attraction for the visitor. It is a natural rectangular shaped pool into which the sea ebbs and flow at the bottom of the cliffs south of Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór. Access to it is gained by walking east along the cliffs from Dún Aonghasa or more easily by following the signs from the village of Gort na gCapall.

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Man of Aran Cottage

Coming soon

Old Light House

Content coming soon

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Cliffs of The Aran Islands

Stretching the entire western side of Inis Mor Island with views of the Cliffs of Moher, are dramatic and beautiful cliffs with spectacular views. This 8km stretch is known as the Cliffs of Aran and there is infact a trail which takes you from the bottom to the top of the island and takes 2-4 hours to complete.  The most frequented area of cliffs by visitors to the island is the fort of Dun Aonghasa. If you venture north, or south for that matter, you are likely to see longer and higher stretches of cliffs with meandering views. You also can very easily find isolation and tranquility.

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Dún Dúchathair ( the Black fort) set on the Cliffs of Aran
This fort is situated on the cliffs at Cill Éinne, (Killeany )Inis Mór. Some visitors enjoy the solitude of it in contrast with the busyness of Dún Aonghasa. The fort consists of a terraced wall surrounding the remains of some early dwelling houses known as Clocháns( stone houses). Excavations have not been out carrcled yet so exact dates cannot be given but it is thought to be possibly contemporary with Dún Aonghasa. It is understood that the name the Black Fort comes from the dark coloured limestone which is characteristic of this particular area on the island.

 

 

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The Landscape

The islands strike one immediately as being like a desert of rock. They are in fact a continuation of the ‘boireann’ (burren) limestone rock in Co Clare to which they were once joined millions of years ago. Owing to the limestone landscape the islands enjoy a rare flora and fauna and are a haven for botanists. From May time onwards the visitor can enjoy a tremendous profusion of colour which marks an attractive contrast to the grey limestone rock. The warmth of the Bloody Crane’s- Bill( Crobh Dhearg) or Spring Gentian( Ceadharlach Bealtaine) in bloom are just two such examples among many. Some flowers such as Purple Milk Vetch( ) are uniquely found in Inis Mór and Inis Meáin and are not found elsewhere in Ireland.

 

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Kilronan Village

This is the main village of Inis Mor and is one of them most picturesque spots in Ireland. Once for the sole purpose as a fishing port for the Aran fisherman, today it is the main port for the ferry companies, main area for festivals. With its adjoining white sandy beach it has a wide selection of first class restaurants serving seafood, and traditional Irish Bars, Buskers, and accommodation it is a splendid spot to people watch and a base yourself before exploring the island.

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