Ìnis Oirr, Aran Islands

Inis Oirr is the smallest inhabited of the Aran Islands and a beautiful diversion for travellers taking the Wild Atlantic Way from Galway City to Doolin in County Clare. Possibly best known as Craggy Island to viewers of the hit TV show Father Ted, it is difficult to find anywhere else like it in the world.

With a population of only 300, the annual onslaught of students to the Irish College during the summer months brings much needed income. On speaking to the islanders most had two or three different jobs to make ends meet year round. The choice of hotels is limited but all were lively, and as used to be tradition in many parts of rural Ireland in the past, the blinds were drawn at about eleven o’clock without a whisper of closing time.

There are few cars on the island and the most common mode of transport for day trippers is a jaunt on a horse and cart. Bike hire is available at the quay side on arrival but with the centre of the village in such easy reach there really is no need.

Boasting its own airport, Inis Oirr requires air transport as a means of survival when the weather is too stormy for the boats to sail from Galway Bay. A shorter service from Doolin runs during the summer months and offers a lovely view of the Cliffs of Moher from the sea also.

Enjoy a scenic tour of the Cliffs on the passage between
Inis Oirr and Doolin

We stayed at the Shamrock B&B which was conveniently located close to the village shop and pub. Everything is close by on this little island and it is worth staying the night because it is after dark that the magical solitude of island life becomes special. I was lucky to be there on a clear night and set off for a walk on the white sandy beach with the light of the moon and a million stars to illuminate my path. The gentle lap of the Atlantic against the shore left me in no doubt that I was experiencing a little slice of heaven.

During the day this stretch of beach holds host to Dusty the Dolphin who is a regular inhabitant of these waters. He is particular about who he likes and who he will allow close to hand so be warned.
A stroll down to the quay means passing a craftsman who makes celtic pendants while wearing a traditional celtic kilt and standing barefoot in the sand. He seems more in place here than the teams of visitors plying back and forth from the quay to the village.
A visit to Aran is complete upon purchasing the delicious Man of Aran fudge which is now available all over Ireland at different artisan food markets. The vendor informs me that his cousin sells the same fudge in the Pheonix Park and his uncle used to sell it at the market in my home town of Howth. I get the sense that everyone who is from the Aran Islands is related to everyone else and this is why it is a mainstay of Irish culture.
The experience of visiting the islands is unique and it is wonderful to hear the Irish language being spoken amongst the natives. It was unfortunate that most of the staff in the local hotel don’t speak Irish, in fact being from other European countries one chap had difficulty speaking English. 
But if you are travelling on the Wild Atlantic Way this summer make time to spend at least one night on this jewel in the Ocean, you won’t regret it.
Travel to Inis Oirr from Doolin click here

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