Back to the Big Island

Hawai’i isn’t the only big island. Inis Mor is one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland, and its name means Big Island.

I went there last time I was in Ireland, and it was great, so I suggested to Penny it would be a good day trip. As soon as I said, “Bronze-age hill fort,” she was totally onboard.

(It’s an island. You get there by boat. See what I did there?)

The ferries at the quay in Kilronan, the largest village on the island.

The high cross in front of The Bar.

Okay. Story time. According to our guide, this used to be called The American Bar, because the fellow who first owned it in the 20s or 30s was an American, and that’s what he called it. But as tourism became the main industry in the Aran Islands, it started to lose custom, because the American visitors didn’t com3e all this way to drink in an American bar, y’see? So, they changed the name and are still in business.

Harp seals off the shore of the island. With my cataract, I couldn’t actually see them down in the water, so I took a few pictures just out of pure optimism. You can kinda see three of them in the upper right of this picture, and this is the best of the lot.

The next stop was for the walk up to Dun Aonhasa, the hill fort I mentioned. I opted out. I went up on my last visit, and it was a pretty challenging climb for me. Now, I’m six years older, my arthritis is six years stronger, and I’ve got that cataract. So, yeah. Decided not to die on that hill.

Penny did go up, of course. And it was foggy so, looking at her pictures, it seems like a very different experience from the crystal-clear weather I had when I visited.

But anyway, no pictures of the fort from me. Sorry.

Instead, I give you a few pictures from the Seven Churches, centuries-old churches and monasteries that were destroyed by Cromwell.

Then it was back to the ferry, and back to Galway.We’ve booked another tour for tomorrow – Cliffs of Moyer and the Burren – and then we went and got dinner.

I had this delicious bowl of lamb stew. I note it because it’s the first stew I’ve had on this trip.

And now, I’m done.

Inis Mór

Today was my trip out to Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands. The tour involved an hour-long bus ride to the ferry, and a 45-minute ferry ride out to the island.

On the ferry ride, I sat beside a 10-year-old boy named Andrew, and we had a nice conversation about colonialism in Africa, the roots of the first World War, the failures of the League of Nations, whether Stalin counts as a war criminal or just a genocidal mad man, and LEGO1. He was a really bright, entertaining kid.

At the island, I got into a tour bus to see the island2. The main thing I wanted to see here was Dun Aengus, a bronze age hill fort. And that was our first stop.

The walk up to Dun Aengus was longer and steeper than I expected. You can just see it on the hilltop in the distance.

This is looking down the long, long way back to the visitor centre. As you can see, it was a pretty busy site today, what with the nice weather.

This is inside the outer ring of Dun Aengus, looking at the inner ring. Those of you familiar with the Burren probably recognize this type of terrain – the Aran Islands are basically continuations of the limestone formations that make up the Burren.

This is inside the inner walls of Dun Aengus, looking down the coastline. The cliffs at the fort are about 100m high.

Hiking up, taking the pictures, and hiking down took about 90 minutes, because I am old and arthritic. It was a tough round trip, but I’m glad I did it. I’m even more glad that I don’t have to do it again.

After Dun Aengus and a bite of lunch, we headed off to the Seven Churches.

This is only one of the Seven Churches. They stand in a cemetery, and are all ruined, and this was the coolest looking of the five I could identify.

Our guide also took us to his goat farm, where he raises goats3 and makes goat cheese. Besides meeting the goats4, I got to take a peek at his cheesemaking setup, and now I want to start another batch of cheese when I get home.

Then it was back to Kilronan, the main village on the island, to wait for the ferry.

I found this plaque near the Kilronan harbour, across the bay from the quays. It seems to show the history of Inis Mór.

And then it was back on the ferry, and back on the bus, and back to Galway.

As I sit here writing this blog post, I have come to realize that I might have got a bit too much sun today. Because of course I forgot sunscreen this morning.

Tomorrow, it’s off into the Burren and to the Cliffs of Moher. That should be fun.

  1. He also told me that I seemed nice, and I told him that I appreciate that, because I work hard to seem nice. []
  2. Actually, I got into the first bus, then the driver asked me to move to the second bus because he had four people that wanted to go together. I felt so used. []
  3. Because that couldn’t be inferred from the phrase “goat farm.” []
  4. And I have never met calmer, friendlier goats in my life. []