About The Aran Islands
Photos by Karin Funke Photography
The Aran Islands are situated across the mouth of Galway Bay on the west coast of Ireland – about 30 miles from Galway City, and six miles from the nearest point in either Co. Clare or Connemara.
There are three islands plus a handful of small, uninhabited islands to the west. Each one of them have individual and unique feature. The smallest and closest one to Doolin is Inisheer/Inis Oírr.
The next one is Inishmaan/Inish Meain, the Middle Island. Inishmore/Inis Mór means big island which can be explored in a day, but would warrant a longer stay to really enjoyand experience its many outstanding and unique sites.
When you visit the Aran Islands you enter one of the last outposts of Gaelic civilisation where Irish is still the spoken everyday language of its inhabitants. The stunningly beautiful islands surpise visitors with high seacliffs, incredible rugged landscapes, ancient forts and other relics of pre-history abound.
Geologically speaking, the islands are a part of the Burren, County Clare’s famous limestone region though politically they belong to County Galway. The limestone pavement is evident everywhere on the islands, and with it the unusual flora. This mix of Mediterranean, Arctic and Alpine plants grow in close proximity of each other which is something that is unique to the Burren and the Aran Islands.
Orchids, gentians, saxifrage, bloody cranesbill and many more plants can be found here which makes the islands a paradise for botanists. Notable insects present include the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Brown Hairstreak, the rare Marsh Fritillary and the Wood White; the moths living here include the Burren Green, Irish Annulet and Transparent Burnet.
In archaeological circles the islands are famous for their prehistoric forts of dry stone masonry. In Irish legend these are associated with the Fir Bolg, the rulers of Ireland in ancient times.
Traditional Irish music sessions and setdancing ceilithe (setdancing events) are a feature of the islands’ pubs where you can also make the acquaintance of the local people eager to discuss the islands’ history or just have a chat. The islands have plenty of excellent accommodation, fine restaurants and craft shops where you can buy the famous Aran sweaters. Or if you feel like making the most of the stunning and beautiful nature, just go for a walk on the shore.