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Monday, November 30, 2020

Aran Islands, Ireland - Exploring The Largest Island, Inishmore

On Day 6 of our Ireland vacation, we took a 45 minute ferry ride to explore the largest of the three Aran Islands.  Me and my sister Sandie researched and found out that we were able to buy our tickets online here before our trip which we found to be very convenient.  The receipt for the ticket had all the details we needed to know about when and where to meet the ferry.  We were told to get to the dock 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time.   We had a 1 1/2 hour drive to the dock from our cottage.  We were getting very used to getting up at the crack of dawn here in Ireland.

After reading about Inishmore in travel writer, Rick Steves, book, we knew that we would not have a problem finding a tour bus to take us around to see the highlights of Inishmore once we reached the island.  So that was our plan and we found a bus as soon as we got off the ferry.  There were horse and buggy transportation for tours also or bikes you could rent if you wanted to explore the island at your own pace.

Our friendly tour guide was very knowledgeable about the island he grew up on.  He took us to all the sights we thought we wanted to see in Inishmore and more.   When we weren't exploring a sight, we were enjoying the beautiful island as we passed through on the small tour bus.

We saw miles and miles of stone wall here.  In fact there are 3,000 miles of wall on Inishmore which is only 12 square miles in size.

We stopped here and there for photo ops and to learn about iconic Irish treasures like the little cottages with their thatched roofs.  They are a vision of life in the 1800's when half of Ireland's population lived in them.  These are the houses that I thought I would see all over the country but there are less than 1,500 scattered throughout Ireland now.

Our first stop was to the site of the Seven Churches.  It's called the 7 churches but there are only two.  Saint Brecan's Church, built around the 7th or 8th century, is the larger and more intact.

The second church, Church of the Hollow, was built much later than than the first and dates back to the l5th or early 16th century.

The graveyard is still used for local burials and you can find St. Brecan's grave here.

Our next stop was Kilmurvey Beach where Sandie was looking forward to seeing the seal colony.  We were very far away from the coast but we were excited to see movement and thought we might be seeing seals but after Soko zoomed in with his camera we realized it was only birds we were looking at.

Our guide took us down further on the beach and the rocky coast reminded us of The Burren where we  were just the day before on our hawk walk excursion.  We found out that Aran Island is an extension of The Burren and it was once attached to the mainland millions of years ago.  Now it sits in Galway Bay.

Our tour guide let me take a picture with the seaweed he picked up to show us.  It was not like any  piece of seaweed I've ever seen on a beach before.

At lunchtime, our guide dropped us off in the small town of Kilronan.  This was where the foot path to the prehistoric Dun Aonghus fortress started.  There were also couple of small shops and a charming thatched roof cottage that housed a small restaurant run by two sisters here.

Teach Nan Phaidi was such a treat.  The two sisters did all the cooking and serving and even took time to make friendly conversation.   The interior had a few mismatched tables and a blazing fireplace that added to the charm and coziness of this place.  

The lasagna, we were curious to try something that was not traditional Irish, was perfect.  It was comforting and delicious.   We rated Teach Nan Phaidi a perfect ten!

After our delicious meal, it was time to hike the 15 minutes up the hill to the fortress, the most visited sight in Inishmore.  But first we needed tickets.  The disclosure on the back of the ticket made sure that we knew the Office of Public Works or the State were not liable "for any damage, injury or loss to the person or property of visitors to this site, howsoever caused".  I wasn't that concerned about the strong warning until we approached someone coming down the hill who warned us to "be very careful up there!  The wind just blew me off my feet!!"

We understood the person's warning as soon as we stepped into the fortress.  It was almost like walking into a hurricane or tornado.  This was definitely a bad hair, don't care day.  You can see Sandie in back of me.  I couldn't watch her get so close to the edge of the cliff on a day like this. We were surprised that the fortress wouldn't be off limits to visitors on days as windy as this one was when there was not a single barrier between the cliff and the 200 foot drop down to the Atlantic.  

Sandie did eventually feel like she needed a break from the wind and found this small nook to hide in!

After our visit to the 2,000 year old fortress, we walked down the hill and into the small town to wait for our guide who picked us up and brought us to where we would board the ferry.  We walked around and checked out this part of Inishmore.

We still had a bit of time before our ferry ride back to the mainland.  We found Tigh Joe Mac, a small, cozy pub to have a drink in and to get out of the wind and cold for a little while.

We all enjoyed our day in Inishmore.  It was a long day, though, and we were ready to relax at our cottage where we talked about the great day we had and how we were excited for our visit to a castle on our last day of a wonderful vacation.


  1. I would love to go to Ireland someday! Thank you for sharing these pictures and details. So fun to see! Have a great weekend!

    1. I hope that you will get a chance to go to Ireland one day! Thank you so much for stopping by.

  2. Wow, that really was a windy day! I've ever been to Inishmore and I so enjoyed my virtual visit with you! What beautiful scenery, and it is truly amazing to think that there are 3000 miles of wall on an island that is only 12 miles in size. Thank you for sharing your journey to this fascinating place with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Take care and have a lovely week!

    1. It was so crazy windy the day we were there! Thanks for coming by to go on this adventure with us.

  3. Sounds like a great day. #SeniSal

  4. Enjoyed looking at your beautiful photos. Warning about the fortress was a bit scary but you still made it, how exciting...

  5. We found out why there would have to be a warning for visitors!

  6. That does look like a delicious meal. What a day! The ruins look fascinating.

    1. Yes the food was as delicious as it looks! Thanks so much for stopping by!!