The "three stepping stones out of Europe" - Seamus Heaney
When you visit the Aran Islands you enter one of the last outposts of Gaelic Civilization where Irish is still the spoken
language of its inhabitance. The stunningly beautiful islands are an extension of the Burren in Co. Clare. High cliffs, incredible rugged landscapes, ancient forts and other relics of prehistory abound.
The Aran Islands are well renowned for the best of good food, traditional Irish music sessions, hospitality and friendliness.
Inishmor is the largest of the three islands. It's principal village is Kilronan where there is a good, deep harbor.
An excellent Visitors Centre, Ionad Arainn, provides a solid introduction to the history and culture of the island.
Sites to see include the interesting remains of Arkin's Castle, a Cromwellian fort that maintained a garrison
during the 17th & 18th centuries. St Ciaran's Monastery, east of the village, where can be seen also several early cross
slabs, pillars and a holy well dedicated to the early saint. Also in this locality is the very early St. Soorney's Church.
To the west of Kilronan is the church of St. Enda, the saint most closely identified with the spread of Christianity on
Aran. Kilmurvy is the other main village on Inishnore; it lies about seven kilometres west of Kilronan, and in its vicinity
is the Church of St. Colman Macduagh, and the Church of the Saints.
Undoubtedly the most famous and certainly the most impressive site on Inishmore is the great stone fortress of Dun Aonghus,
perched dramatically on the edge of a sheer 300ft cliff that falls away into the Atlantic Ocean. Altogether this massive
fortress covers almost 11 acres and consists of three enclosures constructed of large limestone blocks.
Ragús - a one hour spectacular show of Traditional music, song and dance takes place three times a day throughout the summer.
Inis Meáin(Ir. the middle island)
(2,252 acres) is a wild mythic place of distinctive beauty. Here you will experience the natural, cultural, traditional way of life of the islanders. This botanical paradise has over 300 flowering plants from places as far apart as the Arctic and
the Mediterranean region. Among the plants to be found on the island are Orchids, Honeysuckle and Irish Saxifrage. A wide
variety of nesting birds and natural ecosystems are also to be found.
Inishmaan also contains many monuments, notably the ancient Kilcanonagh Church, the 15th
century Templemurray, and fragments of Templeshaghtmacree, or the Church of the King's Seven Sons.
are represented by the superb oval stone fort of Dun Chonchubhair. This is one church on the island with beautiful Harry Clarke Studio windows. Also only one pub which is thatched and kept in the old traditional style.
There is no bank on the island, so the bank flies in with Aer Arann once a month for business. An Dun is an excellent restaurant with award winning food set near the base of Dun Chonchubhair, a beautifully preserved prehistoric fort.
Inis Oírr (Ir. the small island)
Inisheer is the smallest of the three Aran islands (1,400 acres) and is an outcrop of the famous Burren landscape in Co. Clare. Having an abundance of flora, fauna and nestling birds, it is a haven for botanists and nature lovers. The everyday
language of the islanders is Irish and their songs and stories enshrine much of Ireland's folklore and ancient culture.
It boasts one of the most beautiful beaches on the western seaboard.
Inissheer contains the ruins of St. Kevin's Church, or Teampal Chaomhain, now sunk deeply into a sandy hill close to the shore. The saint's feast day is June 14th.
Not far from the small village is O'Briens Castle, a 15th century tower house that stands within a stone fort.
Also worth visiting are St. Gobnait's Church, or Cill Ghobnait, the
Church of the Seven Daughters, or Cill na Seacht nInghean.
The main village is separated from the airstrip by a very long sandy beach backed by sand dunes.
A good selection of restaurants, B&B's, pubs and a hotel is available in the village
- all close to the beach and fishing harbor.
You can reach the islands by boat from Rossaveal with InisMór Ferries,
Or by plane from Connemara Regional Airport with Aer Arann.