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Aran Islands: a secret place on the edge of Ireland that you have not heard about

Ireland is traditionally associated with old castles, St. Patrick’s Day, pubs and beer. However, on the map of this country there are some amazing places that few people have heard about. One of them is the archipelago of the Aran Islands, which is located off the western coast of Ireland, surrounded by the noisy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This is a kind of natural fort, which has been protecting Galway Bay and coastal cities from intruders for centuries.

The Arans consist of three islands – Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer

Aran Islands
Inishmore island. Photo: Sebd (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Stone wall on the island of Inishmaan. Photo: Paucabot (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Inisheer island. Photo: Jjm596 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Due to its isolation from the rest of Ireland, the Aran Islands have perfectly preserved their national customs and culture, and traditions are carefully passed down from generation to generation. The main occupations of the locals are farming and fishing. Agriculture here has hardly changed since ancient times, so sometimes it seems that time has stopped here.

Rocky landscapes, perfectly accentuated by the endless waters of the Atlantic, guarantee an unforgettable experience, and the cold inaccessibility of the rocks will further enhance it!

Cliffs on the Inishmore Island coastline. Photo: sktlloyd3 / pixabay (Pixabay License)
Stone walls on the Aran islands. Photo: sakari4 / pixabay (Pixabay License)
Aran islands coastline. Photo: lucykilpedder / pixabay (Pixabay License)

On the island of Inishmore, which is an elongated limestone plateau, a large number of ancient monuments are concentrated. Massive stone buildings, built without mortar (and some even right in the rocks!) create a feeling of unreality. One of the main attractions of the island of Inishmore is the prehistoric settlement of Dun Aengus, which is a massive fort made of gray stone blocks with a fortress inside. And there is also one of the smallest churches in the world – the Teampall Bheanáin.

Inishmore island coastline. Photo: martinez_miguel / pixabay (Pixabay License)
An old cemetery on the island of Inishmore. Photo: martinez_miguel / pixabay (Pixabay License)
An old cross on the island of Inishmore. Photo: Jim from Lexington, KY, USA (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Inishman Island, the most sparsely populated of all the Aran Islands, has more lush vegetation. Several ancient forts with massive stone walls have been preserved here.

An ancient house on the island of Inishmaan. Photo: William (Bill or Liam) Cassidy / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Round fort Dún Chonchúir on the island of Inishmaan. Photo: Paucabot (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Aran islands. Photo: Paucabot (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Inisheer Island is the smallest, but no less interesting island of the Arans. Here, inside the ancient ring fort, you can see the O’Brien’s Castle, built in the 15th century. Other local attractions include an old burial mound Cnoc Raithní, St. Kevin’s Church, the ruins of the Church of the Seven Daughters, and the Church of St. Gobnet.

The Aran islands. Photo: Sonja1982 (CC0)
The Aran islands. Photo: Jjm596 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

If you want to take some souvenir from the islands with you, be sure to buy a local sheep’s wool sweater. The Arans have been famous for this magnificent product for centuries.

The Aran islands. Photo: Laurel Lodged (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Aran Islands are not subject to the influence of time. Sometimes it seems that they have descended from the pages of Celtic fairy tales. No wonder the local bewitching landscapes are considered one of the most beautiful in the world. If you appreciate unusual routes and unforgettable impressions, you should definitely visit this amazing “edge of the Earth”!

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