Inis Oirr (Inisheer) is the smallest of the islands is characterized by its distinctive charm. This Aran island is close to the Burren with its unusual eclectic mix of color and the Cliffs of Moher clearly visible in all its panoramic splendor. The Island itself also has the true feel of a classical isolated fishing village. From the pier you are greeted with a pristine carpeted white sandy beach facing clear crystal turquoise water and plenty of fishing boats, their nets, and fisherman returning at the end of the day with their catch.
The main village area is right next to the beach and is enclosed by a small hill with a castle and a fort at the top as if they are taking care of the islanders and its visitors. The island is 3km by 3km wide with small hills and intricate little valley’s and is easily covered by foot or by bike. The walk to the lighthouse or the shipwreck of the Plassy is a great occasion where you feel the island with its diverse landscape unfold before your eyes.
Inside the village you wil find a strong local community still adhering to the traditional Irish way of life. The island features a traditional music bar which is has a nationwide reputation for the finest music and great night out. The island also has an arts center, Aras Eanias and features the best in traditional music and art courses.
Hotel and Bed and Breakfast accommodation is available on the island. When traveling to Inis Oirr it is recommended that you would organize 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.
This little church, situated to the west of the peir, dates from the tenth century. It replaced an earlier church. Named after St. Gobnait, the defender of Ballyvourney (another Gaeltacht part of Ireland in County Cork). Before subsiding in Ballyvourney, Gobnait came to Inis Oirr from County Clare to flee from enemies. She later went on to Ballyvourney.
The small church remains still possess the initial altar and outside there are a handful of unusual hollowed out stones and noboddy seems to know their purpose. closeby is one of the celebrated ‘beehive’ dry stone huts used as homes by early Christian monks. These corbel-roofed stone 'beehive huts' are referred to as clocháns.
This is one of the Aran Islands most noted prehistoric monastic sites and it's location is handily close to where the ferry enters the island. This is a stone mound named Cnoc Raithní and at a glance does not capture your imagination and one would may well miss it if not looking for it. However, it is a very significant site for the Aran Islands. A storm in 1885 uncovered the stone mound, which had previously been covered with sand. The mound was later discovered to be an ancient burial ground and important artefacts of a bronze pin and jars containing cremated human bone were found. The remains have been dated at 1500BC.
Located Just on the road to the Plassy Shipwreck Loch Mór (Big Lake) is the islands only freshwater lake. Evidence from the surround foliage suggests that the island was once covered in forrestland which is in stark contrast to the rocky barron landscape which today symbolizes the Aran Islands. The lake is perfect for one to get away and find solitudal paradise which is a unique facet of visiting the Aran Islands.
The Aran Islands in general are typified and charactorized as an extention of the Burren and this you will find a similar repitoire of natural plants which draws peoples attention. The uniqueness of this cannot be underestimated. The plant life around these parts of Ireland combines plantlife from the Mediterranean, Arctic, Alpine and Temperate varieties. These plants grow together in one cosy ecosystem. This is remarkable and nowhere else in the world is this evident. Between May and September every year, the otherwise barren landscape of Inis Oirr is abundant with colour as these small plants begin to emerge between the grykes of the karst limestone areas and along the dry-stone walls of the island. The usual Irish native flora of harebells, scabious, red clover, oxeye dasies and saxifrage are common as well as the ‘out of place’ Arctic ‘dryas octopetala’ and Alpine ‘gentiana verna’ and ‘Minuartia verna’.
The vastness of the unique rocky landscapeof Inis Óirr, and it's uusual formations are an extremely beautiful sight. This is especially since the Aran Islands are essentially an extension of the Burren in County Clare. The cracked surface of the landscape marks resembles a grid and is termed formally as glints and grykes. The clints are the flat blocks of limestone that cover the land while grykes are the deep straight fissures which cut through the clint blocks.
The karst limestone landscape of the Aran Islands and The Burren was formed by a Glacier during the Ice-Age which cleared the land of any plant and soil material leaving the bare rock exposed. The grykes between the clints were formed by water cutting through the softer parts of the rock. This process is still ongoing and in many parts of the Burren is dissolving the rock completely.
Inis Oirr is fortunate to have a stunning beach located adjacent to the pier and on the edge of the main village. Largely uncrowded its clean sandy beach and clear, blue and unspoilt water, which is sheltered and safe is a great place for swimming.
If you stay overnight on the island you can really enjoy its peace and tranquillity. Most tourists from the mainland generally make it out for the day and leave by five o’clock in the evening. by ferry to either to either Roosaveal / Galway or to Doolin by ferry. Fishing on the island is accessible and accordingly its easy to catch an array of fish. Known as ‘currachs’ these boats are also great to fish from. They have been the staple mode of transport for the islanders for centuries and are still used daily by the island’s fishermen.
The stone walls of Inis Óirr and the Aran Islands in general are really are of the most impressive and peculiar sights on Inis Óirr. The miles and miles of stone walls define the farmers fields on the Aran Islands. They usually end up being one of decriptive features of a tourists description of their trip. The criss-cross of stone walls collectively add up to thousands of miles. The best place to gain a real perspective on the extent of the stone walls is by walking/cycling to the southern end of the island where you see nothing BUT stone walls, or a great over head view can be gained from O’Brien’s Castle.
Inis Oir is a perfect place to walk to view all of the attractions.You can also hire a bike to see of the sights. A full island walk would take at least a day.
Located west of the pier this church is also known as St Gbnait whose church at Gugan Barra, Bally vourney, county Cork is also a famous landmark of inetrest are the alter and various stone items located around the church.
The Plassy has become very much a signiture attraction of Inis Oirr and adds a wonderfully rustic view to the viewer and is a spectacular sight. It is one of those attractions you always see photo's of!!!. The Plassy is a rusty red shipwreck. The plassy is on the south Eastern border tip of the island and is a rusty shipwreck beached in the 1960’s. It forms a particularly spectacular sight and is one of them most photographed attractions on the island. The Plassy is located on the most easterly point of the island. This was formerly a cargo ship which ran onto some rocks near Inis Oirr in 1960. No lives were lost in the accident, mainly due to the bravery of the local islanders who risked their own lives in rough seas to come to the aid of the sailors on board the ship. The ship was later moved up onto the rocks by heavy seas and this is where it now rests, much to the bewilderment and surprise of many visitors to the island.
The old lighthouse is located at the highest point of the island offers spectacular 360 degree panoramic views. It is 37 meters high and opened in 1857. It is located at the most southern point of island adjacent to the Cliffs of Moher. Its beacon radiates for over 20 nautical miles and provides an important navigational and safety assistance for ships sailing along Ireland’s western coast.
The remains of this castle make a picturesque sight. Built by the O’brien family who were former rulers until the 1500’s it stands as protective aura over the island. Its also worth visiting the tower just a few meters up the hill
Tiemphall chaomha (church of St keevauns ) is surrounded by the main graveyard of the island. It has the peculiar appearance of being sunk into the ground. This reputably has a spiritual protective energy and rumours are that storms have been calmed.
Áras Éanna's facilities include a 70-seat theatre, art gallery (including space for hosting installations), café, craft workshops and a studio/apartment for the artist-in-residence. The venue has been home to a series of artists since its establishment in 2000. Áras Éanna, situated amidst the spectacular scenery of the Aran Islands, is a uniquely attractive, stress-free and relaxing conference venue in the West of Ireland, with excellent air and sea links to Galway and County Clare. The venue has full data projection facilities in its theatre, and rooms for smaller sessions. There are excellent catering facilities close at hand for lunch, and accommodation details can be obtained by contacting us. Organisations such as TG4 and Comhdháil na nOileáin have held conferences here.TRADITIONAL BASKET-MAKING AND WEAVINGÁras Éanna has a traditional basket-making and weaving workshop. Here, visitors can see brothers Máirtín Taimín and Tomás Taimín engaged in the traditional crafts of basket-making from sally-rods and weaving on a loom, of the traditional "crios" or belt, worn by the men of the island in former times.
Being that the Island is on the edge of Galway bay the swells generated make for good surf in a really isolated area............
The new Lighthouse is located at the Western bottom tip of the island and is adjacnt to the Cliffs of Mohar and thus providing dramatic scenery. On a clear day the cliffs feel like they are just a light swim away . The lighthouse is surrounded by cascades of matted stone fences and the area is very much isolated.