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The Aran Islands

Aran island ferry

Ferrys direct from Doolin

Aday trip to the Aran Islands is a must for anyone staying in Doolin. Doolin Ferry port is the closest mainland port serving the Aran Islands. These three stunningly beautiful islands are an off shore extension of the Burren and are one of the last out-posts of Gaelic civilisation where Irish is still the native language of their inhabitants.

A number of passenger ferries from Doolin will take you across to the islands. There are several crossings daily during the summer season. (weather permitting)

Doolin Ferries run from Doolin pier to each of the Islands every day. Service normally starts in late March until late October. For a day trip we recommend Inis Oire, as it is only a 30 minute ferry trip across the bay.

Inis Oirr/Inisheer

The small Island

inis-oire-beach

Inis Oírr (Inishere) "island of the east"; is the smallest and most beautiful of the Aran Islands has so much to offer. Many people prefer this island of the three, as it has all the amenities and creature comforts of Inishmore but without the hoards of visitors.

The nearest island to Doolin it has a population of 300 people. The island is set in glistening crystal clear blue atlantic waters and boasts an amazing beach, rare plants and flowers and a wealth of breathtaking scenery.

On this island you can see a traditional way of life practised by an Irish speaking community of around 250 people. The Celtic culture and the beauty of the place adds a distinct flavour to this very special place.

Lose yourself on one of the many narrow laneways that divide small flower filled stone walled fields. Inishere's cemetery is unique, overlooking the Atlantic on a high sand dune. The ruins of a 15th C. O’Brien tower house built inside an earlier stone fort can be seen from anywhere on the island.

The island has so much to offer. Its possible to explore it on foot and it doesn’t take a great deal of time. However, you can also rent bicycles, a horse-and-carriage right at the harbour. Here is a short list of some of the attractions.

  • Various golden beaches
  • The island lighthouse (located on the southeast end of the island)
  • O'Brien's Castle (a 15th century tower house that stands within a stone fort)
  • Shipwreck of the MV Plassy
  • Cill na Seacht nIníon ('The Church of the Seven Daughters')
  • Cnoc Raithní (bronze age burial mound dating from about 1,500BC)
  • Teampall Chaomhán (Saint Kevin's Church from 10th-14th century)
  • Tobar Éanna (St. Enda's Well)
  • Áras Éanna (the island's wonderful arts centre)

To eat we recommend Tigh Ned’s pub. First established in 1897, Tigh Ned was Brendan Behan's local hostelry and still retains its old character. The walls are covered in photographs and artefacts which depict traditional island life. It also boasts a great beer garden situated only 15 metres from the magnificent Galway Bay. Great food in summer is also available every day including an island crab special.

MV Plassy

The Wreck of the MV Plassy on Inis Oirr

mv plassey

On 8 March 1960, while sailing through Galway Bay carrying a cargo of whiskey, stained glass, and yarn, she was caught in a severe storm and ran onto Finnis Rock, Inis Oirr, Aran Islands.

The crew of 11 were safely taken off with the assistance of local islanders using a breeches buoy fired by rocket. Several weeks later a second storm washed the ship off the rock and drove her ashore on the island.

The Plassy, was a steam trawler launched in late 1940 and named HMT Juliet in 1941. She was renamed Peterjon and converted to a cargo vessel in 1947. She was acquired by the Limerick Steamship Company in 1951 and renamed Plassy.

Inis Meain

The Middle Island

Inis Meáin is the second largest of the Aran Islands and is also the most tranquil. It has a population of 160 people. Walking is the only option to get around on this sleepy island as there are no horse-and-carriages or bike to rent. Its about a 1 mile walk up hill to the islands only pub from the harbour.

Inis Meáin was a retreat for Synge, one of Ireland's most famous playrights. More recently it has become a centre for diving with its beautiful marine life and clear waters. Along the coast, there are several empty beaches and ruins of early settlements. The 4000 year old fort of Dun Chonchuir is worth checking out. Summer is the best time to come, once the wild flowers are in bloom and the ocean winds don’t bite as severely.

Inis mean harbour is about 1 hour from Doolin. Generally the boats only stop here on request.

Inis Mor

The large Island

Inis Mór is the largest of the three islands and has a population of about 840 people. Inis More has become a bit of a tourist hotspotost so be prepared to bump shoulders with other tourists once you land on the island. If you want solitude, you will find it once you get away from Kilronan the main town.

This island has a wealth of pre-Christian and Christian historical sites including the magnificent Dún Aonghasa. This stone fort was described by 19th century archaeologist George Petrie as "the most magnificent barbaric monument extant in Europe". This site certainly lives up to his description. Standing precariously on the edge of a 100 metre high cliff above the Atlantic Ocean, the fort is a magnificent spectacle. Some of the many other attractions on the island include:

It takes about 1.5 hours to get to Inis Mor from Doolin, making Inis oirr a much better option as day trip from Doolin.

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Sea View House Doolin, Fisherstreet, Doolin, Co Clare,   Ireland   Tel: 087 2679617    Tel US/Canada: 011 353 87 2679617 .
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