Inis Mór (Inishmore) is the largest and most populous of the Aran Islands in County Galway, West Ireland.
Inis Mór was once little more than a lifeless rock on the edge of the Atlantic. Its inhabitants have, over the years, created life where there previously was none, making things grow in their fields using dirt dug from cracks in the rock, combined with composted seaweed. Now all the fields are green, with low stone walls both dividing the fields and keeping the thin layer of soil from blowing away. There are 800 inhabitants on the island, with five schools (two primary schools, one secondary school, and one college) on the island. Common surnames from the island are Flaherty, Faherty, Durinne, and Mullin. During the summer, around 1200-1500 tourists come onto the island every day, and in the winter the number of tourists drop to about 300 per day.
Traditionally, the occupations of the men were to fish and the women to knit. The knitwear (hats, scarves, gloves, jumpers) of the Aran Islands is well-known across Ireland and its patterns are very recognisable with its origin back to these islands. The patterns used to be based on the family profession (farming, fishing, etc.). Today, tourism is a major industry on the island, but, unlike some parts of the country, it doesn't seem to override the local culture.
More information on Inis Mór from the Aran Islands Information website.
Cill Rónáin (Kilronan) is the largest settlement in the Aran Islands, but it is still little more than a hamlet. You can find most amenities here, including a grocery store, the ferry port and several hostels and B&Bs. Spar is the only store on the island, and can be found here. There is also only one ATM on the entire island, which is also located in this village. Note that many of the shops and restaurants around the island only take cash, so make sure you have enough for the day before you leave the village.
There are two main roads across the island from Cill Rónáin to Cill Mhuirbhigh (Kilmurvy), a hamlet near the island's star attraction, the prehistoric fort of Dun Aonghasa. The busier and shorter of the two (around 7 km) crosses the center of the island, while the longer and more scenic of the two (around 9 km) follows the northern coast.
All three islands are Gaeltachtaí, areas of Ireland where Irish is the primary language. Local Irish will speak Irish to each other, which is interesting to listen to or a great opportunity to practice your Irish. English speakers will have no problem, as almost all islanders are fluent in English. However, very few signs are in English, so it's best to know the Irish name of your destination.
Aran Direct's green ferries
Island Ferries  operate from Ros an Mhíl (Rossaveal) in Connemara with bus connections to Galway City. Both offer return trips
for around €25 (plus €7 for the bus to/from Galway) and there is little to distinguish between the two. There are around 6 departures per company per day in the July-August high season, going down to as few as two in the winter.
Ferries are operated from Doolin in Co. Clare by 3 companies. Return fares in 2012 are from €15. Parking at Doolin pier is free. For ferry information visit the Aran Islands information FERRIES PAGE.
The Doolin Ferry Co. est.1970  Are the original ferry operator in Doolin. They offer large and comfortable ferries to the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher from March to November.
Cliffs and Aran Cruises  run a passenger Aran Islands Ferryservice from Doolin pier, County Clare, and they also have a spectacular trip to see the Cliffs of Moher from sea level.
O'Brien Line Ferries  run boats from Doolin in County Clare.
O'Brien shipping operate a cargo service from Galway City, which also takes passengers.
For those short on time, but not on money, Aer Árann operates flights from Minna Airport in Connemara to the airstrip at Cill Éinne (Killeany), a 20-30 min hike south of Cill Rónáin. At €23/45 one-way/return with hourly departures in the summer peak season, it's actually surprisingly affordable, but the aircraft are small and services are frequently cancelled if the weather is bad. Flights are approximately 8 minutes.
Railway package deal
Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Rail) offers a 2-day package including train, ferry or plane and accommodation starting at €109.
Endless green pastures on the coastal road
Though there are mini-bus tours and taxis available on the islands, and you can even go clip-clopping in a horse-drawn cart, the best way to see the islands is on foot or by bike. Wear good hiking boots though, as once you leave the paved roads, you are on very rough rocks. If you cycle, wear a helmet and be aware that there is quite a lot of traffic on the roads so stay safe and stay on the left. Micheal's Aran Bike Hire
In the winter, the best option is to hire a mini-bus tour, which can be found around the village and on the dock where the ferry lands every morning. Winds can be very strong, reaching 45 km/hr speeds, thus making it hard to cycle or walk around the island in the colder months. Mini-bus tour is also the easiest way to see all the sights, as your driver will take you to where you want to go and stop along the road or coast for photo opportunities. It is also a great chance to spend the day with a local from the island and hear about life on Inis Mór first-hand. Price is determined between you and the driver, around €10 per person in the winter and up to €15 in the summer, with each mini-bus taking between 8 to 20 people.
- Dún Aonghasa Dun Aengus is a prehistoric fortress dating back to 1000 BC, perched on the edge of a 100m cliff plunging straight into the Atlantic Ocean. It's also Inir Mór's best-known attraction, and regularly inundated by tour groups. However, there are plenty of other ancient forts on the island, and the only feature unique to this one is its cheveaux de frise, an area of upturned rocks similar to defenses used by the Friseans to defend against cavalry charges. All visitors must disembark at the visitor centre and hike the remaining 0.5 km up the hill to the fort, and there is no guard rail at the cliff edge, so this may not be the best place to bring small children. Currently there is no admission fee to see the cliffs (March 2018).
- Dún Dúchathair (The Black Fort), a walled enclosure surrounded on three sides by cliffs with intricate designs in the stonework. This, more than any of the others on Inis Mór, raises the question of whether its use was defensive or ceremonial. When you get off the ferry most tourists head straight for Dún Aengus, which makes the Black Fort a much more enjoyable experience.
- There are two other stone forts on the island, Dún Eochla, is made up of two almost perfectly circular walls standing at the highest point on the island. You'll have to hike through some fields to get up to it. The final fort is Dún Eoghanachta, located south of the main road near Sruthán, most interesting for the remains of the clocháin (dry-stone, beehive huts) that it encloses.
- Na Poill Seideáin (The Puffing Holes) are two large, circular holes about 100 yards from the cliff edge, where the sea water will "puff" up through frequently as waves crash into a cave beneath the cliffs.
- Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches) is an ancient monastic site, with two churches and several out buildings. It contains the graves of many families from the Islands. The Aran Islands have long drawn religious people seeking solitude and isolation.
- Poll Na bPéist (The Serpent Hole) is a perfectly rectangular shaped pool, located near the village of Gort na gCapall, which is connected to the Atlantic by an underground channel.
- Bike out to the far end of the island for a view of the lightouse, wild waves and barren rocks.
Inviting-looking beach near Cill Mhuirbhigh, but that water's pretty chilly!
- Hire a bike near the docks; the charge is about 10 euros for up to 24 hours, with a €20 cash deposit. Dún Aengus is about a 30 min ride from Cill Rónáin. (The coastal road, which runs along the northern side of the island, takes slightly longer but offers ocean vistas with less traffic than the main road.)
- Ionad Árann, (To the right of the main road as you head north out of Cill Rónáin.), 099 61355 (fax:099 61454, [email protected]), , is an interpretive centre focusing on the island's geological and human history. There is a separate admission charge to see Robert Flaherty's 1934 movie Man of Aran.
- Swim at any of the quiet, sheltered Atlantic beaches. There are several in Cill Rónáin and one in Cill Mhuirbhigh, all free and open to the public.
- Shops located around the island will sell handmade wool jumpers or knitwear for a hefty price. Jumpers are usually around €100, headbands €10, and scarves around €40. They are all handmade by the women on the island with patterns either traditional to the history of the island or passed down within the family. The wool comes from either Irish or Merino sheep bred on the mainland (sheep are no longer farmed on the Aran Islands). Most shops are family owned, and the clothes are made by the women in the families themselves. In Cill Rónáin, you can find the Aran Sweater Market which is a commercialised shop of all the Aran products, which offers free worldwide shipping for purchases over €100. This shop can also be found in Galway and Dublin city, but there is no guarantee that products are handmade from this island.
- Inishmore (Things to see on Inishmore), . Full list of things to see on Inishmore edit
Places to eat are concentrated in and around Cill Rónáin, with a few simple cafes near the entrance to Dun Aonghasa.
- Ostan Oilean Aran Kilronan 099 61104 Mandy will be happy to help with all enquiries. With 22 rooms it is possible to book the whole hotel for your wedding. further info availabe at http://www.aranislandshotel.com/
- Pier House Within 100 yards from the Pier, Excellent Irish breakfast, Open Year Round.
- O'Malley's at Bayview North of Pier near Aran Sweater shop. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Excellent pizzas, pastas, and other irish fare.
- American Bar, (Visible north of the pier) serves american-style food.
- There's a Spar supermarket up the road past the American Bar
- Tigh Nan Phaidi, located at the foot of Dun Aengus, 6km west of the main village, is a family run cafe/restaurant with some of the best food on the island. Everything is home made here and the cakes are a must try!
Cill Rónáin is the largest settlement on the islands, but there may well be more roosters than people
- Ostan Oilean Aran Kilronan 099 61104
- Tigh Joe Mac, Kilronan
- The American Bar, Kilronan
- Tigh Joe Watty, Kilronan, (10-15 minutes walk along the main road towards Dun Aeongus) is a comfortable Irish pub where you are likely to meet some locals who are keen for a chat. There is live music every night (sea conditions permitting!!!) impromptu sessions are not unsual. A few picnic tables at the front of the bar make for an enjoyable al fresco drinking experience in good weather. After a few nights in Tigh Joe's you start to feel like a local.
- Artists Hostel, This small intimate and cozy 10 bed Hostel and self catering, hosted by Marion and Jonny it has a distinct creative energy about it. It is located just metres from the Islands most popular traditional music bar and three minutes walk from the main village of Kilronan. A generous self serve breakfast is included and the general level of service is first rate. Tel: ++ 353 (0) 872079383 http://www.artistshostel.com
- Mainister Hostel, Mainister (10 minutes north of Cill Rónáin on the main road), 099 61169, offers standard hostel accommodation at a standard hostel price (€18 in 2008). Inis Mór Ferries has, at times, had promotional deals that included a reduced rate for one night here. What makes this hostel stand out is its included breakfast, which is vastly superior to that of any other hostel. Includes, cereal, toast, and, most importantly, hot oatmeal. See "Eat" for details on their even better dinners. http://www.mainistirhousearan.com/
- Kilronan Hostel, Cill Rónáin (1 block west of the pier), 099 61255 ([email protected]) is in a very convenient location, less than two minutes walk from the pier where you will most likely be arriving. Beds start at €18. http://www.kilronanhostel.com/
- An Aharla Hostel, Cill Rónáin (To the right of the main road, at the north end of town.), 099 61305, is a small hostel, with space to sleep only a dozen people in a converted farmhouse. Beds start at €12.99.
Bed and Breakfasts
- Tigh Fitz, Killeany, (1.6km south around the bay from Cill Rónáin), 099 61213 (fax 099 61386, [email protected]), , a small guesthouse and bar, is located close to the airstrip for those flying in.
The island is covered by hundreds of miles of rock walls, some up to 4 feet high, so it is possible to hike unnoticed into the fields and camp for a night. Be aware that if you leave anything outside, it will be damp in the morning. There is also an official campsite, which is limited in facilities but not in character.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!