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
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.
Prehistoric times 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
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
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.