I’d like to take a trip down memory lane this weekend, back to a time when I could pick up and travel for three months without a care in the world. This time was the summer of 2001, before the twin towers fell, before I knew what blogging was, and, obviously, before I had a digi-cam (I apologize for the scanned images below). I spent the summer in Ireland, and I spent some of that time on the Aran Islands off of the west coast. Time went so slow on these islands that I think I left before I arrived.
I was on Inishmore, the big island, for a week. This was uncommon as most visitors took the morning ferry to the island and left on the last one, back to the mainland, at 5:00. I stayed overnight and met some young Irish troublemakers who were camping for Bank Holiday weekend. They took me on a pub crawl (three pubs, one street) and rode me back to my B&B on the backs of their bicycles.
By day I rented bikes and rode around the island. Dun Aengus was the main attraction:
Inishmaan (Inis Meain) is the middle island, and the furthest from civilization. This island warranted a day trip only. I was planning on spending another week, but in half a day I was waiting for the ferry to come back and get me. The main problem was that I was there during a hoof and mouth outbreak and a lot of the island was off limits (because most of the land was used for sheep grazing).
This was the town of An Cora:
These were the major sites I saw (Synge’s Cottage and Synge’s Chair):
It was beautiful and desolate. Completely desolate. The only pub was closed all day and the only person I saw was peering at me from behind a closed door. It was a welcome change from the hoards of tourists.
The last island is Inisheer (Inis Oirr). Closest to the coast of County Clare and the town of Doolin, this island doesn’t attract the sheer number of tourists that Inishmore does, but there is a bit of civilization: a small cafe with ice cream. The sites are below and are, in order, the Plassy Freighter Shipwreck, Teampall Chaoimhain, and O’Brien Castle.
Getting to and from the Aran Islands can be tricky, but it’s easier in the summer. Ferries go to Inishmore from Galway and Doolin a few times a day in the summer and the biggest and fullest boat is usually going there so you can’t miss it. To the smaller islands, make sure you tell the ferry men which island you are going to, or they may skip it. I was the only person on my ferry going to Inishmaan. Island Ferries goes to and from all three islands from Galway. Inishmore trips are a few times a day but the ferries only take one trip in the morning and one in the evening to and from the smaller islands year round. Doolin Ferries goes to all three islands from Doolin. In the summer the ferries go back and forth a few times a day but from November through March, there is no ferry service.