All good things go in three

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Wild

Usually some days before (exceptions excluded), a paper is laid down on the table in the portal, accompanied by a pen. Only the image already brings back memories from years ago. It feels good. It means there is a garland, growing longer and longer with the years passing and every bit out of it has brought its own story. Every year anew we celebrate the same festivals mostly at the same time but time and again in a slightly different way. Of course speaking about ‘exceptions excluded’, for example; this year the clause is to be honoured for the third time already due to the unsettled weather.

unsettledUnsettled

Well, as it was planned in the third or was the fourth or even the fifth schedule to happen, three festivals would be combined into Mass of Céadaoin na Luaithre, or Ash Wednesday.

between the stormsBetween the storms

The day was already a celebration in herself: the sun was out and since months there was not any sigh of wind I felt. Feeling embraced by sunbeams people came from all directions to meet in the church to attend Mass.

the sun is returningThe sun is returning

With ash from the palm blessed the preceding year for Passion Sunday, a cross was made by the priest on the forehead of those who wished to receive the blessing that we all come out of ash and we will return into ash. Then there was the blessing of the candles or Lá fhéile Muire na gCoinneal , the actual reason for to lay down a piece of paper if you would like to have some candles for use at home. With this festival the closing of the time of Christmas is celebrated.

The third celebrated festival is dedicated to Naomh Blaise. The saint who was called Blaise Sebaste probably because he was bishop of this town in Armenia. He is the patron who wards off illness of the throat.
After all these three combined events delivered a good thing to start the period of Lent.

cleansingCleansing

Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Celebrations

Although apparently the weather hesitates in showing her happiness about the completion of winter season, I feel, smell and I can even see spring is there. Albeit the day appears to be dull there is always a glint of sun emerging unexpectedly. Sometimes I feel her nourishing warmth already, coming from above as at others the shine of the sun seems to permeate from deep down. After a time of withdrawal the earth has started to exhale again. As on the side of the road greens are sprouting as a heartily welcome to spring.

Between winter and spring

Among many other things the people of Inis Meáin are good at celebrating festivals. Well, with the arrival of spring, the month of February is an exquisite opportunity to share with us the coming festivities. They all have to do with a purge, a cleaning of body and soul and are celebrated on three days in a row.

purgePurge

The night’s turn into spring the girls of the primary school will go along the houses with ‘Bridóg’ or little Bride, in their midst. Bridóg is a nicely dressed doll out of straw made by the girls themselves. While the children do a dance, they sing a song in which we are advised to give something in change for a seven times better sleep, starting tonight, a whole year long. The following morning there will be Mass usually in which the self brought Bridget cross, symbol for warding off sickness from human beings and animals are blessed.
The day after is dedicated to Muire na gCoinneal or Candlemas in which everyone receives blessings for the coming year for renewal and healthiness. The third and the last day of festivities, is dedicated to Naomh Blaise, the patron who wards off illness of the throat.

With these celebrations the time of Christmas has been closed. Another year full of new possibilities lies ahead of us!

revealing new possibilitiesRevealing new possibilities

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

AranLIFE features on Nationwide

All of last week’s Nationwide programmes broadcast on RTÉ 1 were recorded on the three Aran Islands.  In case you missed any of them please see links below for all 3 programmes in the following order: Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, Inis Oírr. Patrick McGurn, AranLIFE project manager features in the Inis Oírr programme, where he discusses the project and related ongoing works with Mary Kennedy.   Taifeadadh cláracha Nationwide uilig a craoladh ar RTÉ1 an tseachtain seo caite ar an dtrí Oileán Árann. Ar

Source:: Aran LIFE

Mapping Aran Irish: A 25-Year Job!

Over 25 years ago, the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies asked me to document the spoken Irish of Inis Mór in the Aran Islands. No serious study of Inis Mór Irish had been done there since the Danish scholar Holger Pedersen and the German scholar Franz Nikolaus Finck had investigated the dialect in the years 1894-1895, nearly 100 years before. Since my father’s parents both came from Inis Mór, I was a logical choice for the work.

In a way, though, I was an odd choice. I was a Californian whose previous field experience in linguistics was a sociolinguistic study of the spread of the Swahili language in western Kenya.

When I began my work, I knew that the dialect of Irish on Inis Mór and on Inis Meáin was very similar to the dialect of Irish spoken in the Cois Fharraige area on the Connemara mainland. I also knew that the Irish spoken on Inis Oírr was quite different, with traits that tied the dialect to the Irish spoken in eastern mainland areas – in the Burren and even in distant Kinvara.

I thought that my work would be simple, that I might discover a half-dozen differences in speech that might distinguish the Irish of the west end of Inis Mór from the Irish of the east end. Then I would discover a few more speech differences that would distinguish the Irish of Inis Meáin and of Inis Oírr.

I soon discovered, however, that on Inis Mór itself, the speech differences were far complex than I would ever have believed. Even little groups of townlands on Inis Mór could be distinguished from each other by their speech. The island could be divided into three or four subdialect areas separating the townlands on an island hardly 9 miles long!

And of course there were other speech differences separating the other two islands from one another.

Still, I thought that I could sort out all these complex differences with three or four years of hard work. As it turned out, the work occupied 25 years of my life!

The result is a 1,000 page research work on the speech differences in the Irish of all three islands, with special attention given to Inis Mór. A PDF of this work can be downloaded at no charge from the website http://aranirish.nuigalway.ie/en/.

In addition to the downloadable PDF, you will find three pages with links at the website which will summarize the most important points about this research work. Accompanying this website is the Facebook page www.facebook.com/aranislandsirish/. And for yet more information relating to the rich history and culture of the Aran Islands, be sure to visit the bilingual website www.aransongs.blogspot.ie.

Séamas Ó Direáin / James Duran, Ph.D.

Purification

Purification

Like a snugly coiled cat behind the stove, just awaking from a deep and comfortable sleep. Drowsily she blinks with her eyes as if to consider whether it is worthwhile to enervate further action while she is still in a trance of slumber. Lingering she comes up from her cozy position, stretching her paws, two by two. However, after a turn of washing herself and a few extensive yaws, she is all prepared.

limestoneLimestone

This is how I, watching from a higher terrace, looked upon the process happening on the by stonewalls be fringed fields out of limestone, this morning. Huge chunks, varying in size, form and state of metamorphosis. Most of them have deep cuttings whereby once grykes could originate, due to the sheltered situation, a suitable place for subtropical plants to grow.

awakingAwaking

The fields are still immersed in a haze, covering their own shade of “liath”, a green -greyish colour. Until the sun awakens them. I see her touching them tenderly, one after another. Little by little the slabs emerge from under their cover, taking up their original colour enriched however by the subtle glow of the sun.

fieldsFields

Apparently in an instant the scene of daily life has differed. From the intimacy of scarce daylight only some days ago, now light has returned. In a continuous movement she increases by the day. And with the growth of the light the overall energy increases in exploring new opportunities.

magicMagic

Off and on I see the tractors on the road. Sometimes with a loader in front, stowed with hay or seaweed brought by the sea. At other moments there is a back loader with the working dog having a rest or another Islander getting a lift.

It is lovely to observe the drivers, sitting high on their royal seat with a straightened back. There is no doubt about where they are heading for.

dramaticDramatic

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Renewel

It is that time of the year after the storms when the local farmers start to collect the seaweed for their fields . Looking at this abundant resource that nature provides one is constantly amazed by the painterly richness, color, tones, and textures. Through the decades Aran has inspired many visual artists to create a great diversity of work. To capture the REAL Aran one really needs to spend more than a day to discover the subtle differences between wall styles and the constant play of light. Looking at the body of work created by the Victorian photographer Jane Shackleton on the Aran Islands one realizes that not that much has changed

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For more about Jane Shackleton’s photographs see Jane W. Shackleton’s Ireland

 

On Aran that sense of beauty is evident due to the ongoing management of fields, walls, etc by those who live here and continue to preserve those traditions. For those of you planning your first visit or returning on your annual pilgrimage it is worth remembering one night is not enough.

Checkout Aran Life

Flying into a new dawn

The first days of the new year have bought a reprieve from storms Eva , Desmond, and Frank which battered the western shores with a ferocity few of us can remember.

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Having enjoyed a glorious October and November when the island reigned supremely in the beautiful light and unseasonable temperatures we are now paying for those blissful days with the wettest December on record.

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Alas there is a light ahead at the end of the tunnel. Already the days are slightly longer as mid winter has gone. As you walk along the backroads one can observe some growth. Pheasants whose numbers have increased over the years are much more visible, as well as audible birdsong. There is that eerie beauty of shafts of light on wet glistening limestone that makes Aran a place of solace at this time of year. A harsh beauty in whose austerity the many tones of grey affects one like a silent prayer. Lamenting the passing of last summer with the haunting voice of Irala O Lionaird singing LCaoineadh na dTrí Muire (The Lament of the Three Marys) – iarla O Lionaird

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Come and renew the spatial and spiritual pleasures of Aran.

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Spring is on the way

Early in the morning it is when I step outside. With the darkness the quality of the night is still around me; it feels comfortable. Like a woolen blanket wrapped around me. There is no wind and the sky is clear. No clouds are to be seen. Venus, one of the planets, is brightly shining and so is Jupiter, another one.

dawn

Then all of a sudden there is that sound, airy and determined. It is coming from far way back so it seems. Nevertheless the sound links seamless with the mysterious atmosphere of the moment.

moon in the early morningMoon in the morning

From his sheltered spot on a nearby ash tree branch he is singing. Long thrillers are interchanged with a variety in modes of whistling. Sometimes the phrases are long; at other instances they are short which smoothly switch to more complicated ones as well. One after another he narrates of many stories he arrogated from other species.

mid winterMidwinter

festive seasonFestive season

It is still dark, not only this early morning though. On these days of midwinter when daylight is scarce while I have a longing for it, it is lovely to pick the right moment to experience it and to be in this very moment of clarity. This is what happened to me when the throstle sang. Through his voice the worlds of light and darkness combined and inner freedom was born.

first primrose of pre-springFirst primrose of pre-spring

Spring is on the way.

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Insight into a wintry day

It will pass as it always did and it always will be. The only thing is that one can never be sure about the moment “when”. Of course with the up to date technology a lot of movements is possible to check beforehand but still.

A wintry day

Since last night there is no ferry and no plane. This does not only mean that travelling is not possible but also that there is no post and either goods or provisions can be delivered. The shop runs therefore empty.

In the early morning I spotted a tractor coming along but for the rest of daylight I did not see a soul. The road was and is still quiet. This in contrast with the ongoing tumult of noise, caused by the storms competing with one another about the championship.

Something like this

Sometimes the sound is nearby, pushing and pulling on everything she is trying to get hold of. Other times it sounds like yelling and screaming. In a situation like this when the wind has a superior role in the overall scene the question pops up what the wind does when she doesn’t blow. I find it hard to exclude myself from it all the more because there is an ongoing stream of rain lashing against the window too which adds to the various sounds.

Up till later in the day there is not any need or urge to go outside but when I actually did go out to close the church it was hard to keep standing on both my feet as the wind tried to blow me away.

The colour of the sea and the sky now is alike: grey. Not as dark though as the stonewalls which have the look of shining bronze, at this moment, but compared with the impelled waves getting a bright white colouring, it looks grey.

shining bronzeShining bronze

The only thing I know for sure is that rain will cease and storms will ease.

after the stormAfter the storm

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Courageous

Wished I could frame them in. . .

Sun of October

On the wire that early morning not just one but, if I counted well, seventy or even more of them were there. Side by side, completely immersed in toileting themselves for the day to come. Then, all of a sudden, breaking through the serenity of the moment, there was the sound of rustling and swishing and off they went to far horizons, scooping down and up again as one long and broad garland driven by a whirl of wind.

Toileting

Since the stranger birds left for warmer regions to hibernate, the domestic ones apparently took over their position. Now it is them to be the bean an tí (landlady) and with the temporarily change they look more valiant than ever before. Like the other day when I saw six of the slightly bigger ones on top of the church.

usual imageUsual image

My conviction that the seagulls had a booked place over there was negated by what I noticed now: on both crosses of the nave of the church the stayers retreated. Not as I was used to in watching the seagulls: just one on the top.

high above enthronedHigh above enthroned

What I noticed was that each of the three ends of the two ornaments was occupied by them. Well, I am not sure whether the birds seemed completely at ease but still, in any case they were courageous.

Island of rosesIsland of roses

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

The Island’s Voice

Another Summer is on the wane.  Though wetter than usual this summer has been a very good one, for I have spent many happy days on each of the Aran Islands.   They have become my special place to roam, to bird-watch, and to daydream.  Each visit brings a new awareness of, and an appreciation for, these islands.  Living in the city I find myself blocking out the metropolitan cacophony of automobile engines, horns, booming car stereos, sirens,  and errant alarms. Conversely, on the Aran Islands I find my aural senses tuned in to every rustle or swish of grass, every wave breaking on the shore, and every chirp, twitter, and rush of wings.Dun Eochla 7-10-2015 11-06-45 AM 6016x4000

It was on a trek to Inis Mór’s highest point one breezy summer morning that I became profoundly aware of the voice of the island.   As I climbed I stopped to turn and look toward Connemara’s spectacular mountain ranges.   Two robins vigorously twittered territorial claims and somewhere below a horse whinnied.  Under a sky that turned increasingly moody I pressed onward and upward.  The wind became stronger and cooler as I reached the crest of the hill to fully behold the lighthouse and the signal tower ruin.   The buffeting winds ‘thwumped’ between the two structures and keened through the lighthouse catwalk.  The lighthouse and signal tower were reason enough to have made this trek but a short walk away lay the impressive ring fort, Dún Eochla, protected by an outer wall of stone, and I was eager explore it.   As I made my way toward the fort I spied, and stopped to inspect,  a wedge tomb.  What was its story, I wondered?  The air currents moved and swirled through its stone slabs and the tomb seemed to whisper its ancient secrets.

I paused by that outer barrier around Dún Eochla and it was here, surrounded by a maze of intersecting stone walls, that I understood.  The unrelenting wind pounded the stones and funneled through the air spaces between to produce a sound that was wild and powerful.   All that I had heard — and all that I was hearing at that moment — was the voice of the island.  The nearly 360º vista that spread below me from this windswept hilltop nearly took my breath away.  I was wondrously alone.  I wandered the hilltop, aware that every breath I took was air that had been scoured clean by its long journey across the Atlantic.

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I am often asked which island I prefer.  I say truthfully that I don’t have a favorite.  I confess that I did have a favorite at first, but subsequent visits to each one made me realize that it’s impossible for me to choose one over the other.  Each possesses a unique charm and magic. Each speaks with a unique voice.

5 Things You Must See When You Visit The Aran Islands

Located just off the coast of Galway are the Aran Islands, one of Ireland’s most famous and treasured places. These unspoiled islands attract thousands of tourists each year in search of the Ireland that many thought was lost long ago.

Despite their small size, there is so much to see and do on the Aran Islands that fitting everything in to a single trip can be quite tricky. If you find yourself on a short stay on the Aran Islands, here are five ‘must sees’ that you should try your very best to take in:

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1.The Irish Language
Whilst the Irish (Gaeilge) language is not technically something that you generally ‘see’ with your eyes, we felt it too wonderful a feature of the Aran Islands to leave out! While English is generally the predominant language spoken across the nation of Ireland, there are still several places (known as ‘Gaeltachts’) that still consider Irish to be the primary language.

The Aran Islands boasts a higher percentage of fluent Irish speakers per capita than anywhere else in Ireland (and therefore the world!). But worry not, the people of the Aran Islands are perfectly comfortable when it comes to speaking English too, so visitors will have no problem communicating with the natives. It is highly recommended that you pick up an Irish phrase book when you visit the Aran Islands and try out a ‘cupla focail’ (Irish for ‘a couple of words’). Irish is a unique and beautiful language and the local Irish people will only be delighted to give you a few pointers on how to improve your Gaeilge!

 

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2. Dún Aonghasa World Heritage Site
Arguably the most spectacular man-made sight on the Aran Islands is the Dún Aonghasa World Heritage Site which is located on the southern cliff-face of Inis Mór. The remains of this spectacular Bronze Age era structure stretch out across 14 acres. Evidence unearthed in the area in the 1990s suggests that people inhabited the Dún Aonghasa area much further back than once thought, perhaps even before 1,500 BC, making it one of the oldest known human dwellings in Ireland.

The exact reasons for Dún Aonghasa’s location are something of a mystery, with archaeologists speculating that it may have held some sort of spiritual significance. As Dún Aonghasa is a protected site, it is recommended that visitors embark upon a guided tour from a local professional to ensure that no damage to the precious site is incurred. Guided tours generally only cost the small sum of €2 per person, with all profits made contributing to the upkeep and ongoing research related to this amazing site.

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3. The Worm Hole
Located just south of Dún Aonghasa is perhaps the most amazing of all of the Aran Island’s naturally formed geographical structures. ‘The Worm Hole’ is a bizarre, perfectly formed rectangular plunge pool which must be seen to be believed. Publicity garnered from the now world famous Red Bull Cliff Diving series brings many brave tourists to the Worm Hole each year – they dive right in and enjoy a cool dip. Are you brave enough to join them?

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As it is only 15 minutes’ walk (at a strolling pace) away from Dún Aonghasa along a beautifully serene walkway which is clearly signposted, visitors can ‘hit two birds with the one stone’ and see both of these amazing attractions in a short space of time – perfect for day trips!

4. Basking Sharks
Of all the animals of Aran, the most majestic of them does not technically live on any of the islands, but in the water around them. The basking shark (or Cetorhinus maximus as scientists who specialist in sea life like to call it) is one of the largest animals in the sea. At lengths of up to 10 meters, the basking shark is the second biggest fish of all (only the whale shark is bigger).

Despite its enormous size, the basking shark is a gentle giant and poses no danger to humans. Instead of eating meat, the basking shark is a peaceful filter-feeder and is only interested in plankton. They can be seen cruising right at the surface of the water when they are hungry and don’t seem to be bothered by people in boats. They will often swim within yards of boats but never directly collide with them, making them easy for tourists to take photos of.
There’s lots more to learn about this amazing animal on its Wikipedia page.

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5. Aran Sweaters

If there is one iconic sight that represents the Aran Islands more than anything else, it must be the Aran Sweater (sometimes known as the Aran Jumper). In fact, some would argue that Aran Sweaters are even more famous than the Aran Islands themselves, with them becoming popular across the globe after being worn by famous celebrities like Alexa Chung and Grace Kelly.

Aran Sweaters were first worn by Aran fishermen. They were created to offer protection from the harsh weather conditions found in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland. Durable, hard-wearing, warm and even waterproof, the Aran Sweater was the perfect practical companion for any fisherman. The fashion was only a secondary concern to them!

To learn even more about the Aran Islands’ most famous garment, check out these 9 surprising facts about Aran Sweaters.

 

Ferragosto on Aran

At present we are inundated with Italian and French visitors coming to enjoy the peace, calm, and cool weather we have been having this summer as opposed to the inferno, heat and humidity that they have been experiencing on the continent.

I am reminded of an anecdote that a middle eastern guest told us. In the year there are posters with the slogan “come to Ireland where it is wet and green” which oddly enough seems to appeal to one if you live in climates of excessive heat and humidity.

The Aran Islands for Italians I guess holds the same fascination, a land of mist and mystery, and a sense of history, celebrating the joys of a slow way of life. A place where they can see the ongoing connection that we have with the land, protecting and preserving it for another generation who’s future seems bright and who we hope will respect their past and heritage for another generation.

To share with the many who will come to the spiritual home of Máirtín Ó Direáin, J.M Synge, Darach Ó Chonghaile, paying homage , making Ferragosto a truly Italian / Hibernian celebration with fresh fruits of the sea and a perfectly chilled Italian White wine savoring the beauty of Aran on Ferragosto.

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Generousness

between night and day

Between night and dawn

At dawn

Another day, another pair. Even another colour. The same size though. Nearly every morning around the same time I lay down a different pair on the brown polished shelf. Pure pleasure it is for me to give them their nicely tugged in place. It is between the small but sturdy wooden tractor for the small children to play with and the freshly spun wool with its’ specific smell of lanoline from the sheep of Inis Meáin.

In full brightness they shine towards me. Their lively and bright colour attract straight away of course but there is more. Is it perhaps the material itself with her touch of softness; is it the way it is made? What is it?

nicely tugged inNicely tugged in

It was during the summer, not long after the cuckoo had left the island, that she was sitting on the stone wall in front of her house. Obviously she was waiting for me to pass for when we greeted one another and had enjoyed a little chat she asked me whether I would like to present them to the visitors. “Of course, I said, I feel it as an honour if I can do you this favour”. And so we decided. The next day a coloured bag was already waiting for me.

From that day on I actually have become friends with the dog because of my regular visits to the house. And yes, almost every night I go up and tell her where they went today. Then her lovely face on which there is always a smile, shines from one ear towards the other. Before leaving she reaches for her basket to present me with another pair and off she starts with her needles again…

It is the sharing of a vital part of how she has spent all her life up till the present day. Although the colours might have been changed in the cause of the years the reason “why” will not have been changed. It is her generousness in full brightness which shines towards us.

generousGenerous

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Home coming

Inis Meáin

Inis Meáin

Puffing hole

In fact it was only just a tiny little scrap out of your entire life time on the island that I got to know you. For it was here on Inis Meáin that you were born and bred. Amongst your family, your brothers and sisters and all those living around you grew up.

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With a good lot of them you walked for many a year the tiny and sheltered roads for going to school. With them too you probably played on the slabs of limestone, looking out for the little ferns growing in the narrow grykes.

slabs of limestoneSlabs of limestone

In your garraí (potato field) it was I first met you when you were preparing the wide ridges and deep ditches. You generously allowed me using a strip of them for growing some vegetables. Sometime later you showed me how you restored the gate of a stonewall. It was thrilling to see how deeply you were connected to the stones; out of the heap you just knew and blindly you picked the one you needed.

gate of a stone walllGate of a stone wall

Not long before you left the island you gave me your last advice for which I am still up to this day very grateful to you; “Tigh Cháit will be a lovely place for you to give out cups of tea”, you said.

While standing at your grave I even sensed your smile, fully content you seemed. And you were so right, I think. Really everything was prepared for you so well. On the soil freed from the acquired hole various spades had been laid down. At both sides of the dug grave the grass was neatly cut on three sides which was nicely wrapped up in a roll afterwards. After the coffin was lowered into the hole and the first padríní (prayers) had been spoken the priest spread the first heap of soil over the grave. Your family and friends took a spade then and filled up the left space with care. Whereupon the carefully laid aside wrapped rolls of grass were put back on top.

I will miss you but I am sure for you this is home coming.

home comingHome coming

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

Remembering Aran

In Germany, when I sleep in my highrise apartment in the city centre, I dream of Inis Mór. She comes to me in the mind’s eye, approaching me over the horizon, as if I am skimming the Atlantic ocean in flight. She looms before me in Galway bay, the sea foam exploding on her southern flank, while the white boats glide softly towards her northern. I smell the milky seaweed, encrusted with salt. I hear the nickering of the horses, the clatter of their hooves. I feel already the harsh karst under my feet, land that has stood, sentinel like and unyielding, for thousands of years. I see the eyes of the old fishermen, swaddled in their sea2beaten faces, eyes that have stared so long over blue waters that they seem to echo the ocean. I dream this, and there, I am returned; an Oisín that has touched the mortal soil, but yet raves of Tír na nÓg.

Four glorious months flew past me in Inis Mór, barely stopping for breath. For those four months, I was lucky enough to call Inis Mór my temporary home. I lived there. I breathed there. I became there.

The precious hours strung themselves like beads on the short thread of the summer. I rose early, watching the first ferries drifting into the sound, the foam in their wake immediately evaporating. The sun rolled across the sky. I chased the wind down Eochaill hill atop a cranky old bicycle that grumbled if I changed gears with too much ambition. Then, I launched into work in the local supermarket, where I was greeted with smiles, chatter, gossip, and friendliness from the very second that I arrived there. The tourists spilled in, a tide of enthusiastic travellers that brought stories from all corners of the globe. Those moments, how I gathered them up and hid them inside my soul, like a greedy child stuffing their pockets with marbles.

Then, when the work day ended, my hands stained with newsprint, it was a slow trudge uphill and homeward. My breath came harder as I crested each little hill, the evening painting more of the sky as I climbed.

Symphonies of red, purple, yellow and orange lashed across the horizon as I defeated the final summit and cruised home to rest, leaving an Elysian canvas in my wake.

My European friends scarcely believe me when I talk about this place. It’s like something out of a storybook, they say. To them, such a place is impossible. The stories of Inis Mór enthrall them. The night before my friend and workmate Gareth left the island for good, we trekked up to the highest point of the island, Dún Árainn, and lay down on the grass, stargazing and putting the world to rest. The night was silent, the stars blazed with ferocity, and we could see the glow of fireworks bursting into life across the ocean in Connemara. Laying on our backs there on the highest point of the island, our faces turned to the universe, the sea exploding against our island only a kilometer away, exposed before the heavens, we could almost breathe in infinity. And as if to prove it, shooting stars flitted across the sky.

Or the stories of my friend José and I, and the many nights we spent slurping hot cups of tea while we lounged on the back wall of the house, the sun wandering below the horizon and the stars beginning to yawn. He taught me Spanish words while the moon rose over the bay and the moths stirred in the grass below. One night, a red moon drifted above the bay, softening out into lemon yellow and then sharpening to white again, before the cold Atlantic air nipped at our faces and ushered us back indoors.

Here, the stars and moon shrink from the glare of this city of a half a million people. The air smells of rich European flowers, not of the seaweed and the salt lace trim of the island. The roads run thick with traffic, trams, cyclists, pedestrians, and anonymity. Cities turn away from you. To the great metropolises of the world, you are nothing more than a solitary enzyme in their system, an ant meandering through its caverns. Anonymity rests on my shoulders here, dragging behind me on the ground like a cloak.

No such anonymity existed on Inis Mór. Everyone knew my name and my hometown within a week. Cars pulled up beside me on the road, windows rolled down, and lifts up the hill were offered, stamped with that islander smile (special thanks here must go to Fionnuala and Cyril, who gave me more trips up the Eochaill hill than I can count). Greetings, waves, and handshakes were the order of the day, pints and glasses of wine were generously passed around, glassware clinked together and the laughter echoed across the sound. We raced up the hill in the back on Philip’s car, Ráidió na Gaeltachta blaring out a jig from 1986, and we roared with laughter and wondered how this one summer could ever end.

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The All Ireland Final was an interesting one that year. Donegal versus Kerry; green and gold, versus green and gold; and most importantly, me versus Paul, my good friend, workmate, and proud Killarney man. The healthy tension was spurred on by the islanders, who made Donegal versus Kerry jokes for two weeks before the match every time they saw us. We both scrambled for the day off work, and got it, and so it was to the front lines of the pub we went, washing down cheese toasties with beer, holding our breath, gasping… and, eventually, in my case, bemoaning our defeat. We celebrated and commiserated in our usual fashion with a bottle of red merlot (which has since become my drink of choice, thanks to Paul today, neither my health nor my dignity thank him, but I do).

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A kaleidoscope of memories wheels behind my eyes as I write this. How can I possibly describe everything and everyone who made an impact on me on that island? How could I tell you about the scratch card contests between Mary Burke and Roland outside the café, and how they raced each other inside to the till to cash them?

How can I ever do justice to the oceanic spray of Dún Dúchathair, flaring over the black cliffs like a bridal veil? How can I describe the feeling of cycling up the hill in pitch blackness, feeling my way forward by the twin lights of my bicycle lamp and the lighthouse on Oileán na Tuí?

How can I put onto paper the lump in my throat when Angela plonked an Irish breakfast (on the house) in front of me on my last morning? How can I put into words the love I have for these people, the embraces I shared, the gifts they gave me, the memories I carry with me? Does it even make sense, any of this? How can I ever thank all of them for this… this thing that has been planted within me, this thing that no words in neither Irish nor English can ever describe, this thing that I carry with me, yes, I carry it in my heart, and I know not what it is, but I know that it feels of karst, it smells of seaspray, and when I look at it, it is the sun sliding down beneath Galway Bay, hardly willing to let Inis Mór out of its sight, and I’m watching from Dún Árainn as I always did, the boats are drifting across the sound like spirits, and the air there is so still that I can hear the céilí music, faint as a dream at the point of wakening, flitting between the stone walls of Aran.

 

Love, Relationships & Island Living

I called up to a friend of mine, called Niall some time ago and I could only say that Niall really is a man of Aran — he is a first class fisherman, a champion oarsman, a builder of walls or indeed anything, he is a tremendous father and husband and I know he’d agree with me when I say that one of his best ever decisions was in marrying the lovely Genie, who could only be described as ; as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Over the last 15 or 16 years since I’ve been separated, for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to make a “go” of any relationship.
I have received, (mostly from my friend’s wives and partners) — kindly words, support and even
understanding. Partly due to the fact that I am not a bullish fellow, am probably a romantic and am happy to admit that I am in love with the notion of being in love —

Anyway, I have had many the supportive conversation whereby it’s been pointed out that I just haven’t met the “one” yet and one of these days, she’ll step off the boat and ill know when I know.
So, I sat up in Niall and Genie’s house overlooking kileaney bay, was spreading real butter on the currently bread made by Genie’s fair hand and I was reasonably expecting her to tell me warm and kind things like —
What’s meant for you, won’t pass you by or some such thing.
Well she smiled, looked at me straight in to my two eyes and said
” did you ever think that you might just be a selfish bastard ”

Well, I burst out laughing and in fairness, as her declaration is possibly for others to judge but once again I found myself feeling blessed to be living in a small community with real friends who will call it as they see it.

I left their house , no wiser but alot happier after the candor and a good belly laugh.

These things only ever seem to happen to me on my beloved Island.

More soon.

Conor Meehan.

Pátrún Festival – Currach Men and Modern Men

I remember years ago reading a story written by the Great Island Author, Liam O Flaherty in which he described the feelings of a newly wedded young man who was going to dig his potatoe ridges for the first time as a married man.

He described a really beautiful and urgent picture of this young man in the field desperately wanting to show his young bride that she had chosen a man who would always provide for her and whatever family came along , he knew in ways that this was a rite of passage in his village and he desperately wanted to show his neighbours that he was strong enough and resourceful enough to fulfil his sacred duty in looking after his care.

O Flaherty wonderfully captured the conflicting yet motivational feelings of burning ambition along side terror and self doubt.

Very understandable and certainly a human range of emotions that I can most definitely identify with.

In our previous society, the opportunity for a man to work through the fears and doubts and to challenge himself physically and thus provide for his care was a powerful asset in that it was a very tender yet strong act of love and it meant that the very qualities that took the man through that barrier were used for what nature intended them for, and that because they were not repressed or misguided , the man, and his family could reap the honest rewards.

It’s harder , today for men to find and fulfil that primal challenge but I believe it’s still highly important, as I have observed and experienced, that such men generally are not driven by ego, self promotion or aggression.

Sometimes when a man allows himself to become or to feel immasculated, he can very often be badly behaved and not just let himself and his family down but his gender too.

I was incredibly blessed in that as a child, along with my father, my role models were men who faced life and death at sea and were consequently very much at peace with themselves.

I was attracted by this and to be honest, I just tried to copy it.

I owe these brave Island Men a big thank you, for showing me the way.

3 reasons to Rent or Hire a bike on Inis Mor (Inishmore)

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Summer is upon us here on Inis Mor (Inishmore).  We recently asked several people what were ‘the three best things about Renting a bike on Inis Mor (Inishmore) Island’. Here are the three main conclusions.

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1. Renting a bike on Inis Mor (Inishmore) and cycling around simply helps you have a great day.

There is just something about arriving on Inis Mor (Inishmore) island and cycling. The journey is not very long and is easy for most people to do. The route to Dun Aonghasa is relatively flat. Most people seemed to like the isolation the island offered and simply enjoyed being the fresh air. They also liked the range of things to see such as; The seal colony, The various monuments and churches, The wild flowers and birds, The stone walls.

 

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2. Dun Aonghasa is the main attraction on Inis Mor (Inishmore).

If you were isolate one event of the day, everyone interviewed really enjoyed the experience of being at Dun Aonghasa and saw this as a highlight of the day. The whole experience of being at Dun Aonghasa includes, The Cliff views and the view of The Cliffs of Moher, The view of the whole island, The fort itself, The fresh air, The sea rolling against the cliffs, the wonderful view of the whole island, the Heritage center.

 

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3. Cycling around Inis Mor (Inishmore) Island is not an expensive day out.

Simply put, for the price of renting a bike on Inis Mor (Inishmore) Island, everyone felt that is excellent value for money

 

 

 

The post 3 reasons to Rent or Hire a bike on Inis Mor (Inishmore) appeared first on Aran Bike Hire.

Source: bike hire

A touring group practicing Tai Chi on the Beach

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After finishing a day of cycling, A tour group practices Tai Chi on the beach after returning their bikes. There is always a small crowd of people gathered around waiting for the boat before it leaves in mid afternoon. Kilronan Village Pier is a magnificent sight on a sunny day with clear views of Galway Bay and what better way to take some time out and practice Tai Chi.

The post A touring group practicing Tai Chi on the Beach appeared first on Aran Bike Hire.

Source: bike hire

Inis Oírr – The Little Sister of the Aran Islands

Inis Oirr grave yard

There are three Aran Islands and the smallest – the little sister of Aran – is Inis Oírr (pronounced Inish Sheer).  The name means “island of the east”  and it is the most easterly of the three. It is not as popular as the largest island, Inis Mor – but if you love mystery, you’ll love Inis Oírr.  It has the expected Irish cottage-style houses, endless stone walls winding around the landscape, fishing boats, and beautiful Celtic crosses in the cemetery.  But this little island with just 300 inhabitants also has a castle ruin, a shipwreck, a Bronze Age tomb, a holy well, a beautiful beach and an old church ruin that sits 6 feet below the ground – a result of the Atlantic winds burying it with sand.

 

Much like the Burren, Inis Oírr is solid rock.  For thousands of years Islanders spread seaweed and sand over the rock to cultivate a little patch of green where potatoes could grow and cattle could graze.  The soil on Inis Oírr is seldom thicker than a few inches in any one place.  Islanders picked up the rocks that covered the ground and piled them up to make stone walls. These eventually became enclosures for cattle.  If you lined up all the stone walls on the islands in a linear direction, they would cross the entire country.  It’s a magnificent, windswept, damp, wild, rocky landscape.

The primary economy is seafood.  It’s a very similar lifestyle to the offshore islands in Maryland.  The families earn their incomes through harvesting seafood and tourism, with a little bit of “side-work” thrown in hear and there.  Cooperative groups handle things that generally affect all the islanders like how to manage debris and garbage, keep the beach and roads up and settle issues that affect the entire island.

But the landscape is the polar opposite of our Maryland islands.  Instead of rich swampy marshes and mud there is rock and rock and more rock.  Instead of sweltering heat and humidity you can slice with a fishing rod, the Aran Islands have a temperate climate that is not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter.

There’s a beautiful beach on the island with water the shade of green I remember seeing in the Caribbean.  The beach has a wide sandy area, but also has remnants of boats lying about that have all seen better days.  Curraghs, a type of island row boat, are all over the island.

The islanders use curraghs for fishing.  They were first built with timbers covered with animal skins.  Now they’re much more durable, usually made of fiberglass.  A fisherman told me that the front of the curragh is slightly elevated and the bottoms of are curved or rounded.  This is so the boat can cut through wave head on and and roll over the waves when the hit from the side. Three men can fish from one curragh.

The island land is divided between the islanders, each family having about 20 acres.  I asked an islander if there were summer homes or Americans that live on the island.  He said there were two Americans who lived there because they married islanders.  He explained that you can’t just move to Inis Oírr, because nothing is for sale.  A landowner will pass his land to one child and that child will pass it on to his or her child.  All other children must find lives off the island, because there’s no land for them to live on

 

WHY INIS OÍRR?

 

I wanted to visit Inis Oírr because of the legend of St. Gobnait.  This island was where Gobnait received her vision to go to the place where she’d find nine white deer grazing.  That would be her place of resurrection.  That is where she’ll be safe.  That is where her spirit will be most alive.

Finding one’s Place of Resurrection is an integral part of the thin places concept.

Gobnait saw the nine white deer in Ballyvourney in West Cork.  She founded a monastic community there that flourished, and she became the patron saint of Ballyvourney and is beloved by all the people in Cork.  Her holy well there is a huge pilgrimage site.

She saw three white deer in Clondrohid and followed them to Ballymakeera where she saw six more. But it wasn’t until she came to Ballyvourney to a small rise overlooking the River Sullane that she saw the nine white deer all together – grazing … just as the angel from Inis Oírr had prophesied. She crossed the river and settled there. She founded a religious community for women, performed memorable – some say miraculous works, and it was there she died and was buried.  read full post on the Thin Places blog site

There’s stunning little church ruin presently on the spot where St. Gobnaits had her vision there on Inis Oírr, The church dates back to the  8th and 9th century structure still stands on the Island next to the remains of a beehive hut.  According to the legend, it was in or near this place that she had her vision.  I also knew that there was a holy well on the island.  So these were the two things I wanted to see the most.

 

ARRIVING BY FERRY

 

What a dismal day it was.  The clouds stuck to the hills reducing visibility to the immediate surroundings. There was a constant misty rain.  I’d read in a guide book that you could hire a pony and cart or a mini bus to get an island tour.   I confirmed that at the Galway City Tourism Office.  There were ponies and horses and open carts alright, but I didn’t see any mini-buses.  Before I could ask anyone about a bus, a young man began to try and talk us into his carriage ride.  The conversation went like this…

Young man:  “Would you like tour of the island? Sure, I’ll take you to the castle and the shipwreck and the lake and beach”

Me:  I was really looking for a minibus tour.

Young man:  Oh, there are no buses.  What ya need a bus for.  It’s a great day.

Me:  It’s raining.

Young man:  It’s only misty.  That adds to the charm. C’mon, I’ll take the three of you

Me:  There are no buses?

Young man:  There are buses.

Me:  How much?

Young man:  $50 euros for the three of you.

Me:  Do you have a site related to St. Gobnait?

Young man:  Uhh.. yes.  There’s a church.

Me:  How about dolmens, standing stones, sacred sites.

Young man: No dolmens, no stones.  We have a church… yeah.  And a saint.

Me: You have a saint?

Young man:  St. Kevin. C’mon hop in, we’re losing time.

So we got into this young man’s carriage and it was a delightful ride.  He later admitted he owned a mini-bus and when I asked him about his previous comment stating there were no buses he said, “Had I had my bus with me today, there’d have been no carriages, see?”

He was an excellent guide, had a great sense of humor and I felt I’d certainly got my money’s worth.  But he knew little about thin places or the concept of mystical landscapes.  He knew nothing about St. Gobnait except that she was from Cork.  But he knew much about the castle, shipwreck, lake and history of the island.  His name was Aidan. I would highly recommend him if you’re ever on the island.

Though Aidan gave a fantastic tour, I was a little disappointed that there seemed to be less identified mystical places – and not an apparent great love for them that I found in the islanders on Inis Mor.

 

BRONZE AGE TOMB

The first stop was a Bronze Age tomb.  This was uncovered by a storms gradually blowing the sand off until it was eventually visible on the surface of the land in 1885.  You can see that the two standing stones mark the grave and the slight stone wall is where the islanders uncovered human remains along with Bronze Age treasures tucked in with the bones.  The whole thing is set atop a huge mound similar to the style of tombs seen in Lough Crew and the Boyne Valley.

 

PLASSY WRECK

Just beyond the tomb is the old rusty relic known as the Plassy Wreck.  The ship ran aground in a storm in 1960.  All the crew were saved but the ship was abandoned.  Eventually, it was cast up on the rocks and has been sitting there since.

 

ST. KEVIN’S CHURCH

The patron of Inis Oírr is St. Kevin.  He was the brother of St. Kevin of Glendalough and both Kevin’s studied under St. Enda, a great religious scholar in his day.  Enda resided on Inis Mor, but had a reputation as a great teacher and showed a presence on all the islands and on the region.  The two Kevins in confusing.  Obviously there’s a mistake as two brothers would not have the exact same name.  But the islanders don’t care.  They claim this Kevin and they’re sticking with the name they have for this saint.  To them the great St. of Glendalough is just “the other Kevin.”

The church of St. Kevin is buried in the earth, and one must climb down into the ground to get to it.   It dates back to the 10 and 14th centuries, but it was continually covered with sand and had to be dug out regularly.  Another islander told me they deliberately built the church in a “dug-in” style to protect it from the elements.  I’m no scholar, no I make no assessments, but I’ll enjoy learning more about this special place.  The church still has its altar in tact and above it is a beautiful stone carving of Christ.  There are cut-outs in the stone where pilgrims will place devotional candles and stones as tokens of devotion.   St. Kevin (of Inis Oírr) is buried beneath an oratory just next to the church.  The island graveyard fills in the grounds around the church.

 

OBRIEN’S CASTLE

Visible from almost every perspective on the island is O’Brien’s Castle.  The ruins date back to when the O’Briens owned the island.  The castle is three stories high and was eventually razed by Cromwellian types in the 17th century.  It’s ruins haunt the island skyline.

Finally, Aidan took us to St. Gobnait’s church (pictured earlier in this post).  This is much smaller than Kevin’s church and is much more remote and unkempt.  The roofless structure dates to the 8th century and close by are the remains of a cloghan or beehive hut.  I stopped for a minute and remembered Gobnait.  I thought of what it must have been like to be fleeing in fear, a single woman.  Then to have this vision about how to blindly navigate this unfriendly, wild landscape to a place where an invisible presence is leading you, a place where you will not only be safe, but you will belong.  A place you’ll know when you get there.  That’s some serious trust.

 

A LOCAL OFFER TO VISIT THE HOLY WELL

After his stellar tour, Aidan deposited me at the beach and I walked through the village.  I couldn’t decide what to do with the next hour.  So I kept walking.  There were two horse  / carriage drivers chatting in the road.  I knew they’d ask about touring the island and I was formulating my answers, how I’d gently and politely explain I’d already been on a tour.  One of the drivers was older  – maybe late 60s or 70s.  I said hello, and he nodded.  Then he said, “Would you like to go for a ride and see the Holy Well?”

Wow!

I figured Aidan must have tipped this guy off by cell phone call.  “Hey the holy lady looking for religious stuff is coming.”  I asked this man to tell me more about the well.  He said it was St Enda’s well.  I said, “I thought St. Enda was from …..”  the man completed my sentence, “Inis Mor. Yes, he was from Inis Mor, but he spent time here too and he lived in a cloghan on the other side of the island. Many people believe the well has healing power – healing power for everything, not just one thing like the eyes or the heart – everything.  And it never dries up.”

I jumped in the carriage and had one of the most meaningful tours I’ve ever had in Ireland.

 

ST. ENDA’S HOLY WELL

The man’s name was Stiofán (Stephen in Irish).  He was quiet but ready to share all he could about the island way of life.  I soaked it up.  He didn’t seem the religious sort, and I thought it strange that he asked only if I wanted to visit the well.  He didn’t mention the other sites along this side of the island – like the seals, or the fisherman’s working areas … nothing but the holy well.

When we got to the well, Stiofán explained that there are many local devotees that will visit the well on nine consecutive Sundays as a sort of devotional pilgrimage.  He also explained that there are many wells on the island and fresh water streams flowing beneath the rock, but this well never runs dry.  People believe it has healing power.  He said there is also an eel that appears from time to time in the well.  “Some people have seen the eel.  They’re the said to be the holy ones.  I’ve never seen the eel.”

Then Stiofán surprised me.  He got down on his knees and scooped water from the well with his hand to bless himself three times.  The well meant something to him after all.  I was humbled.  Really … humbled is the only word I can think of.  There was a gentle holiness about this man, and it revealed itself to me there at St. Enda’s well.  What an encounter.

I kinda figure he should have seen the eel.

I will take a group back to Inis Oírr someday, and we’ll visit St.Enda’s well.  I hope we’re lucky enough to have Stiofán lead us there.  He’s a rare one.

If you get to Inis Oírr before me … ask for Stiofán.  And ask him to show you the holy well.

 

 

 

My pics for books and music that reflect the Aran charism

Best place to be

golden path

Sure he must have felt his reasons why he slipped in. Was it perhaps the light which shone so brightly from the inside or maybe the heavenly sounds elicited from the harp? Anyway both of them had the quality to prepare him a warm welcome. Actually thinking back, I suppose the main reason for him to come was that he wanted to be assured of the best place he could ever get for the following morning which was now still available. And the music and the light would have strengthened his desire to do what he did…

Golden path

It was quiet that same evening when I went over for closing. The sun had already set. Nice colours marked the sky and there was no wind of any importance. The birds had probably found their shelter for the night yet at least I did not hear any tone of them. The only animal I did see was the cow near Dún Chonchúir, she looked at me without actually looking. I suppose I distracted her out of her atmosphere of the night.

Dún Chonchúir

As I used to do when I enter in the evening, I first had a look inside if someone was still in. Then I blocked the door and went through.

in front of the altar

In front of the altar

Only a few candles were still lightened but those gave everything around the altar an intensified and intimate glance. I saw lovely bunches of flowers everywhere around as well as on a small table in the front on which a lovely embroidered cloth was laid. In addition there was a booklet called An Chéad Chomaoineach (the First Communion) with a picture of the children attending the school, the receiving child to be, inclusive. Between the first benches there was the covered harp and the music. Everything looked tenderly looked after. I extinguished the candles and left.

When I returned the following morning and lit the candles again I heard an ongoing chirping. It was only when I unlocked the door that the bird which seemed to be so eager to be in the oncoming festivity, emerged.

agus as go brách leisAgus as go brách leis (and off he went)

Slán go fóill,

Elisabeth from Inis Meáin

Source:: aranisland.info

The Darling Buds of May

Spring has sprung and the cuck00’s and starlings have arrived singing their hearts out. The Dawn chorus is certainly louder and earlier. The fields are alive with Gentians, Buttercups, Bluebells, Clovers, Dandilines, Primroses, Sea Pinks, Forget-Me-Nots, Sea Campiones, & Poppies all against the verdant fields framed by the labyrinth of grey stone walls makes for a bucolic sight.

May is truelly the most beautiful month on Aran. The long evenings of burnished sunsets and silhouetted horses delighting in the abundance of grazing grounds after a lean winter. Over the garden walls of many houses our eyes are surprised by the tender care the occupants have made to bring additional color and variety to the island. Tulips, Peonies, Color Lillie’s, Old Fashioned Roses, Carnations, Geraniums, Gladioli vying for pride of place to bring a joyful light to the interiors starved the long winter months of beauty only mother nature can give. As our summer guests begin to arrive, time is of the essence as we dedicate our working hours to their pleasure. We still have time to eat healthily as the salad leaves in the garden are ready. There is no better way to enjoy these – simply dressed and served with a baked Camembert on one of those bomby may evenings when you can literally smell the buds of May.

 

Baked Camembert;

Ingrediants
1 whole Camembert in its box, a clove of garlic chopped, a teaspoon of olive oil, and a teaspoon of chopped dilsk seaweed.

Preheat oven to gas mark 6, remove the cheese from its plastic and return to its wooden box. Pierce the top of the cheese and drizzle with Olive Oil and sprinkle the remaining ingredients on top and bake in the oven for ten minutes until the center of the cheese is melted or guuy. Serve immediately with croutons, salad, and Red or White wine.

Picnicking on the Island? Our local Spa in Kilronan has an excellent selection of cheeses and wines.

Interview with Author; Marcella Gemmell

How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?

I have always had a love of writing , but of verses and would write verses about all kinds of things, Love, Life, Friendship and aspects of the world, mainly in English and one or two (Aran Related) in Irish. This however is my first Story.

What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

I love reading and I use it as an escape from the “real world”. I love Cathy Kelly , Marian Keys and Claudia Carroll. I did read 50 Shades of Grey , I admire EL James , the book may not be everyone’s cup of tea.. but she took a chance and has sold 70 million copies worldwide. If that is not success, then nothing is.

Tell us some more about your book.

My Book is call “Fate, Hope & Love” it is based in Galway city and the Aran Islands. It is a modern day fiction, romantic story that follows life , love and everything in between.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

My main character is a single girl called Jessica, She works and lives in Galway City but is originally from Kilronan in the Aran Islands. Jessica has been hurt in a previous relationship and is slow to trust anyone again. The book follows her story where she meets Sam Casey a stranger who’s act of kindness , might just be the start of happiness for Jessica.

Who do you see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I could definitely see Kiera Knightley playing Jessica and possibly Channing Tatum as Sam Casey

Why do you write?

I write as relaxation, I work in the Emergency Services and I have a young family , so reading and writing are my “down time”.

Who inspires you?

I get inspiration from lots of places in life , of course the people who surround me , from situations and everyday living. I also get inspiration from the beautiful country we live in and love photography. I also am a hopeless romantic and love music… so my inspiration is a combination of everything put together.

Describe your writing style:

I have a quirky sense of humour.. I don’t take myself too serious and know for a fact that I am clumsy , quite self critical but with a heart as big as anything, so I write from my own experiences too. I think it comes across as light hearted, and quirky .. like me I guess.

What is your favourite place on the Aran Islands?

It would really be impossible to pick one – But if you really force me – I will narrow it down to two. If you had to find me in Aran, you would find me either sitting on the wall overlooking the pier in Kilronan , watching life go by or I will be at the top of Dun Aengus, crawling as close to the edge without falling over !.. camera in my hand and wonder at the utter beauty of the place in my mind.

Why did you go to the Aran Islands in the first place?

My first ever trip to the Aran Islands was on a school tour , I went back after that to find summer work in a Bed and Breakfast. While I physically left to work in Galway .. my heart never did.

Why Should One Visit Aran Islands Once In Their Lifetime?

The Aran Islands are a cluster of three islands located on the West Coast of Ireland at the entrance of Galway Bay. The three islands are namely Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer of which Inishmore is the largest and Inisheer is the smallest. These islands are home to a population of approximately 1,200 people who use Irish and English as their prime languages. When people talk about islands, one often pictures crowded sandy beaches with plenty of sun and surf action.

However, The Aran Islands are nothing like you might have pictured about islands in general. The Aran Islands are known for its serene ‘spiritual’ atmosphere, limestone landscape surrounded by miles and miles of stone walls, isolated blue flag beaches, stretches of spectacular cliffs and a mosaic mix of pre christian and christian monastic sites. This is unlike anywhere you might have visited in the past. If you are bored of visiting the party rich Hawaii Islands, Andaman Islands or Maldives etc. you might want to consider visiting The Aran Islands for a totally fresh experience.

IMG_46281.Old Ireland Revisited

If you have been to Ireland in the 19th century you might know how it has changed over the years where modern cities have replaced the old Irish outdoors. The Aran Islands however have remained untouched by modernization and urban culture and retains the old Irish culture to a large extent. Irish or Gaelic is still the primary language of the Aran island inhabitants although most people can speak fluent English.

1 (7)2.Tranquility Like No Other

The landscapes in the Aran Islands largely comprise of old Irish Pubs, small Restaurants, and pre-Christian era forts and the remaining terrain is mostly covered with vast stretches of green countryside, limestone rock, and eternal stone walls. The waters are great for angling and taking a bike ride provides a feeling of being one with nature and experience a moment of immense calm and tranquility. The Aran Islands are one of the most serene escapades one can ever think of having.

IMG_24813. A View to Remember

The Aran Islands have been inhabited by humans since the Bronze and the Iron Ages. There are several ancient forts from the Bronze and Iron Ages located by the cliffs facing the Atlantic Sea. Dun Aengus which is located on a 300 foot cliff face, The Black Fort, O’Brien’s Castle, Teampull Bheanáin, Teampall an Cheathrair Álainn are few of the famous forts located in the Aran Islands which are famous for their scenic location. What make the place special are the low number of visitors and a complete absence of human population over here.

IMG_24754. The Ruins from History

The Aran Islands are known for its history that goes back to more than 5000 years and is known for its ruins from the later Bronze Age. Few of the first Christian era buildings have also been greatly preserved in Aran Islands. Several medieval forts and churches from the 9th and the 10th century are also located in Aran Islands and are few of the most popular attractions in Ireland. limestone landscape in Inishmore and the Na Seacht Teampaill and Dun Aonghasa, are a few of the several attractions that make this place worthy of being a World Heritage Site.

2014-02-21 13.10.285. For Adventure Lovers

If you think The Aran Islands are a treat for just the nature enthusiasts or people who are looking for a place to relax and enjoy the view, then you might be wrong. The Aran Islands has some of the best rock climbing spots in the world with cliffs that are 300 foot high.

It also has some great off road cycling tracks, serene turquoise water for divers and snorkelers and particularly large waves for surfing in the winter months.

IMG_2559If you are not interested in history or how civilizations came to exist and are looking for some adventure to pump up your adrenalin, then rock climbing could be the thing to try. The jagged and rocky cliffs of The Aran Islands are an attraction for rock climbers although most people are drawn to the views and atmosphere of the cliffs as relaxing sight. Dun Aonghasa is the main attraction for tourists visiting Inis Mor Island and is one of the main features of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Further adding to this, Poll na bPéist which is a naturally occurring wormhole at the base of a cliff that leads to a 91 foot drop, is the venue for the Redbull Cliff Diving competition.

 

5. For Fun

Like the great scenery and serene atmosphere that the Aran Islands contain, the people are overly friendly and welcoming. The islands are also home to several unusual and quirky customs and traditions which are healthy sources of entertainment for the visitors;especially the Ted Fest where inhabitants indulge themselves in a drinking fiesta while being dressed as Priests and Nuns.
www.tedfest.org/

Mils Muliaina at Aran Bike Hire

Mils Muliaina at Aran Bike Hire

Mils Muliaina at Aran Bike Hire Mils Muliaina at Aran Bike Hire

Not only was the weather at it’s most glorious over this past weekend, the Rugby supporter staff at Aran Bike Hire were delighted to see a famous All Black Rugby Player Mils Muliaina from New Zealand hire a bike and cycle up to Dun Aonghasa to take in some of the views from the Cliffs and the sights of Inis Mor. Mils said he liked the place so much he will be back again.

The post Mils Muliaina at Aran Bike Hire appeared first on Aran Bike Hire.

Source: bike hire

St. Patrick’s Day on the Aran Islands

St. Patrick’s Day – is probably one of the most well-

known feast days throughout the world. It is celebrated in

numerous countries outside of Ireland as well as here on the

“Emerald Isle” and in many cases with parades much larger than

you would even see here. It is estimated that 70 million worldwide

join in the celebrations on this day.

 

When we think of St. Patrick’s Day we automatically think of

green, from the beautiful fresh Shamrock to food and green beer

and everything in between.

 

But how much do we actually know about St. Patrick? How he

came to be one of the most celebrated Saint’s in the world?

I will tell you as much as I know and forgive me if I am wrong –

St. Patrick was actually born “Maewyn Succat” and was born in

Kilpatrick in Scotland in approx. 387 AD.

 

It is told that when he was sixteen years of age Maewyn was

captured by Celtic raiders and spent some time in Ireland as a

slave.  He spent a lot of time learning customs and languages of

Celtic Druids and began to convert these people to Catholics.

We understand that he had a dream one night in which God

spoke to him and said “your ship is ready” and St. Patrick knew

that we would escape by ship back to Britain. Some- time later he

dreamt about getting a letter which claimed that it was “the voice

of the Irish”. On opening the letter, he could hear “Irish ”voices

begging him to return to Ireland.

 

He decided to study and become ordained as a Bishop in the

Catholic Church and returned to Ireland to start a Church here.

He was met with many obstacles along the way but stayed

determined and eventually by combining old Celtic beliefs and

traditions with the Catholic Faith founded a strong base for the

Religion in Ireland.

 

St. Patrick is also said to have banished snakes from Ireland,

Legend has it that he stood on a hilltop, dressed in his formal

green attire, and waved his staff to herd all the slithering

creatures into the sea, expelling them from the Emerald Isle

forever,  there hasn’t been a snake seen in Ireland since 461 AD

(expect for the odd household pet and zoo creature),  I , for one

am very glad of this .

 

Symbols for St. Patrick’s Day:

Probably the most famous is the Shamrock; the shamrock is

a type of clover with three leaves. It was used by St. Patrick

to explain the meaning of the Holy Trinity, with The Father,

Son and Holy Spirt.  To this day, the Shamrock is looked on

as a symbol of good luck and is worn pinned to clothes on St.

Patrick’s Day.

 

Wearing the Green, Blue was the colour originally

associated with St. Patrick, but as Ireland is known as “The

Emerald Isle” due to its green infrastructure. Green became

more associated with the feast of the Patron Saint. Also the

green in the flag and the clover St. Patrick used in his

teachings about Catholicism played a big role in why green

is the colour now associated with all things Irish.

 

Other symbols of St. Patrick’s Day are: Leprechauns, The

Harp, and The Celtic Cross.  While I can tell you of the

beautiful music from a traditional Harp and have pages and

pages of history in relation to the Celtic cross… The

Leprechauns are a whole other story… but if you do seen

someone with a crock of gold, at the bottom of a rainbow,

don’t let him go and oh yeah, give me a call. !!

St. Patrick’s Day is reported to be celebrated by over 70

million worldwide, (give or take a few).  The celebrations

include some or all of the following, in whatever order suits

you.

 

Attend Mass (if you wish) – Mass is celebrated by Catholics

to remember the Saint. Wear Green. Pin Shamrock on you.

Attend a parade, held locally throughout all of Ireland and

in many many countries worldwide.

 

Eat green food (some not naturally green, but green for the

day).  Drink green drinks, (some also not naturally green, but

green for the day).

 

Listen to and enjoy some traditional music, dance if you can.

Catch up with family; it is almost a “mini Christmas

celebration” for families.

 

Just celebrate being Irish or just being with the Irish.

If you plan to be in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, be sure to find

out from the local tourist information, what is happening, where,

what time and be sure to join it.

 

St.Patrick’s Day on the Aran Islands.

There will be lots of great events on the Aran Islands on St.

Patrick’s Day – There is a parade on Inishmore starting at 1pm,

with music and celebrations all day in the many bars.  Where you

can immerse yourself in tradition, music, great food and above all

great craic.

 

The weekend before, there is the first ever Aran Celtic

Music Festival,  It is a three day celebration of Celtic music, dance and

culture.

 

Renowned artists from Ireland and the Celtic Diaspora

coming together for a unique fusion of our shared culture

on the intimate setting of the Aran island of Inis Mor.

 

Seated concerts and readings, dance floored Ceilis and some

of the best pub sessions you will ever have the pleasure of

taking part in will create three days of unforgettable Celtic

passion.

 

Please see the festival website : http://www.ceilteach.ie,

where you will see the full list of events and everything you

need to know about the weekend.

Who knows , I might just see you there ….!

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

Marcella Gemmell .

My Favorite Place in Ireland: The Wild West – By Andrew McCarthy

An innkeeper, a painter, a bodhran maker.

Almost 30 years ago on a chilly June night I stumbled into Ballinalacken Castle House Hotel in County Clare and came upon a gruff lion of a man with an unruly mop of hair who offered me a country welcome amid peat fires, heavy blankets, and flowing pints of Guinness.

Denis O’Callaghan has endured my comings and goings at all hours, my crashing into his car, my insistent requests for more of his wife Mary’s unmatchable soda bread, nearly every year since.

He has become as much a part of my visits to the west of Ireland as the nearby Cliffs of Moher, the traditional Irish music played in McDermott’s Pub just down the hill in Doolin, or my wind-whipped hikes across the Burren. His site on a bluff overlooking the sea and the Aran Islandsbeyond is a place I return to in my mind on a weekly basis.

A large canvas covered by a roiling blue-green sea led me to find Carol Cronin halfway out on the Dingle peninsula, a craggy finger of unmanicured land jutting out into the Atlantic in County Kerry. Carol’s gallery on Green Street in the town of Dingle is filled with a riot of seascapes—gray, golden, turquoise; some placid, some in turmoil.

A view of Dunquin Harbor and the Blasket Islands beyond (Photograph by Marshall Ikonography, Alamy)

She can be found there painting—usually barefoot, long brown hair yanked back off her face—on most afternoons. It’s Carol who pointed me to Curran’s, a Main Street pub where the owner/barkeep shared with me crumbling letters of gratitude sent to his grandfather by so many of the people who had fled Ireland during the Great Famine with a few pounds of the elder Curran’s money in their pockets to ease the way.

It was Carol, too, who insisted I go out to the Blasket Islands, the now deserted, treeless outcrops that were home to a few dozen rugged, Irish-speaking people until the mid-20th century. Alone on Great Blasket, amid the handful of derelict houses, under raging wind then lashing rain then burning sun, I spent a day in potent silence that I have never forgotten.

____

And it was out in Roundstone along the coast road in Connemara that Malachy Kearns told me, “I had a wild call to be by the sea and I couldn’t wish it away.”

A stone wall keeps a horse from wandering in Connemara. (Photograph by Medford Taylor, National Geographic)

It explains why Ireland’s premier bodhran maker has secluded himself far from the beaten path in County Galway, and why musicians make the pilgrimage to his seaside studio for his custom-made drums.

An outsize man in every way, with pale blue eyes full of mayhem, Malachy embodies much about this wild, merciless, untamable corner of an already wild and untamed west. Connemara is Ireland’s Ireland, “a different world out here, to be sure.”

For more than a quarter of a century I’ve traveled this coast, up from the filigreed fringe of west Cork, along the lakes of Killarney, to the world-class golf links of Ballybunion and Lahinch, to Yeats country in Sligo, meeting people like Denis, Carol, and Malachy.

Next year, I’ll meet still more.

Celebrated travel writer, actor, and director Andrew McCarthy is an editor at large at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewTMcCarthy.

The Aran Islands in the dead of winter – a life-changing experience

"I’d

I’d been to Ireland dozens of times, but a winter’s day on Inishmore was something else entirely.Photo by: Arkell Weygandt

“What if we just didn’t get on the ferry?”

All three of us had been thinking it as we cycled the coast road of Inishmore back to the main village of Kilronan, where the 5:00 pm ferry was waiting to make the last trip of the day back to the mainland.

We pulled our rental bikes over to the side of the road, each of us quietly debating how crazy it would be to forgo our New Year’s Eve plans and cozy AirBnB in Galway for a few more hours on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. We had 20 minutes to decide.

The main road on Inishmore. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The main road on Inishmore. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The border collie who had been gamely running alongside our bikes for the past half hour stopped to take a drink from a puddle and wove around our legs, leaping up affectionately.

A white cat the shape of a large cotton ball emerged from the pub Ti Joe Watty’s, padded across the road, perched on a stone wall and looked at us quizzically.

The cat from Joe Watty's. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The cat from Joe Watty’s. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

That was that.

Arkell, my boyfriend, and I walked in to Joe Watty’s where a welcoming fire was just getting going and a few local gents were settling at the bar with pints. His sister Annalisa, who’d been the first to speak up about wanting to stay, cycled off towards a sign that said B&B.

The barman raised a skeptical brow when we asked him if he knew where we could find last minute accommodation. But he went to the phone and returned with the welcome news that “the hostel up the hill” was open and had room for us.

The famous Joe Watty's. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The famous Joe Watty’s. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

We raced to the pier and confirmed with the bemused boatman that we could use our tickets for the morning ferry instead, slipped a note under the door of the shed where we’d rented the bikes saying we’d return them in the morning, and headed back up the hill on Inishmore’s main road to Mainistir House Hostel, arriving just as darkness set in.

We’d set out for Inishmore bright and early that morning from Galway, boarding a shuttle bus that took us to the Aran Islands Ferry at Rossaveal. It was a grand soft day, meaning that the rain was pouring and the wind was blustering and the small ferry rocked from side to side throughout the 30 minute journey, sprays of ocean water pouring over the top deck.

In the summer, during the peak of the tourist season, hundreds of visitors flock to the three Aran Islands each day by ferry and airplane. Inishmore (Inis Mór) is the largest and most populated, with a little under 900 people living on the 12 square mile stretch of land.Inishmaan (Inis Meáin), the middle island, where playwright John Millington Synge drew his inspiration, is the second largest and the least populated, home to fewer than 200. Inisheer (Inis Óirr), the smallest of the three islands and the closest to the Galway coast, has a population of almost 300.

Map of the Aran Islands. Image: Creative Commons.

Map of the Aran Islands. Image: Creative Commons.

Though the entire population of the Aran Islands hovers around 1,200, tourism brings an additional quarter of a million people to the islands each year. On New Year’s Eve, however, we were three among just a small handful of visitors to step off the ferry and on to the pier at Kilronan, Inishmore’s main town.

At the end of the the pier was a bike rental. A Japanese family and group of young French Canadian tourists we’d been on the ferry with made a beeline for it, cycling off minutes later into the drizzling rain. The proprietor plied us with maps and friendly advice about the best route to Dun Aengus, the semi-circular Iron Age fort atop Inishmore’s imposing cliffs, but we declined his offer of €10 per bike for the day in favor of shopping around.

“How much are your bikes?” We called to a man with a fleet of cruisers leaning against the front wall of his shop. “Ten euros,” he answered. Right before the road curved up and inland away from the harbor, there was another shed with bicycles. Also €10 for the day. “And I’m the last one,” the owner told us with a smile.

Delighted with our bikes after "shopping around." Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Delighted with our bikes after “shopping around.” Photo: Arkell Weygandt

He advised us to take the main road to the town of Kilmurvey at the start of the path to Dun Aengus. Inishmore boasts many other important forts, ruins and monastic structures, but Dun Aengus is the largest and the most famous, and with just a few hours on the island (or so we thought) we had our sights set on it.

In Kilmurvey, the man said, we would find a café and an Aran knitwear shop with much better prices than the larger sweater market in Inishmore. For the way back, he said, the coast road would be our best bet. “There are fewer hills and you’ll be tired by then, and you might see some seals when the tide’s coming in.”

As we set off, the rain miraculously let up and the sun began to break through the low-lying clouds in the sort of meteorological coincidence that forces you to believe in good luck at the very least.

Inishmore’s main road (labeled as Cottage Road on some maps) curves uphill from Kilronan Harbour, winding past the sweater market, a place called The American Bar, a Spar, the post office, and cheery looking B&Bs. At Joe Watty’s Bar and Restaurant, the coast road forks off to the right and the main road continues farther uphill, the spaces between houses growing wider and wider until the landscape opens up to reveal Inishmore’s stone walls and green fields punctuated by limestone karst, the same rock that covers The Burren in Co. Clare.

The stone walls along Inishmore's main road. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The stone walls along Inishmore’s main road. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

While the karst makes a suitable home for some unexpected varieties of Alpine and Mediterranean flowers, it does not lend itself well to farming or agriculture. What green fields you see on Inismor were grown out of determination as generations of islanders created a layer of arable soil by spreading seaweed and sand on top of the limestone. Interestingly, a local informed us, this meant that the islanders suffered much less during the Great Hunger than those on the mainland, accustomed as they were to relying on alternate methods of farming and what they could take from the sea.

Cottages on Inishmore. Photo: Sheila Langan

Cottages on Inishmore. Photo: Sheila Langan

The patchwork quilt metaphor is synonymous with Ireland’s landscape, and while I’ve always understood it looking at Ireland from above during the descent into Shannon or Dublin, I’ve never witnessed it so clearly on the ground as I did on Inishmor. The stone walls section off the fields into parcels of land, some so small you can’t help but wonder. When you reach a high enough elevation, towards the center of the island, the walls stretch out as far as you can see, white cottages dotted in between like grazing sheep.

The stone walls may seem like a relic of times past, but many still serve their purpose and are maintained, as proven by a young guy in a hoodie and track pants who we saw stacking stones back together on a section of a wall that had toppled down.

The shops at Kilmurvey. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The shops at Kilmurvey. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

The road led us straight past the beautiful horseshoe-shaped Kilmurvey Beach and into a town of the same name, though on Inishmore “town” may be a relative term as Kilmurvey is really a small cluster of houses, a café, and craft and souvenir shops.

As promised, Aran sweaters here were indeed less expensive than they had been in Kilronan. One of the shops had shelves upon shelves of cardigans, scarves, hats, blankets, even mittens and baby booties. The hand-knit items were priced higher than the machine-knit ones, but they were all made out of delightfully soft merino wool and therefore a far cry from the thick and itchy Aran sweater that upset me greatly as a child. As we tried on different styles and colors, we were joined by a robin who flew in the open door and perched on Annalisa’s head before hopping over to a stack of men’s sweaters.

A friendly robin perched on Aran sweaters. Photo: Arkell Weygandt.

A friendly robin perched on Aran sweaters. Photo: Arkell Weygandt.

Leaving our bikes in a small parking lot, we entered the Dun Aengus visitor center, where for €5 we learned the history of the fort dating back to 1100 BCE and gained access to the path leading up to the cliffs, which the center cleverly obstructs (though there is, we later learned, a path at the side of the center that can be accessed outside of business hours).

Leading up to Dun Aengus. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Leading up to Dun Aengus. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Dun Aengus (Dún Aonghasa) is named after Aonghus mac Úmhór of the Fir Bolg, a legendary ancient race who are said to have ruled Ireland before their defeat by theTuatha De Danann.

Approaching Dun Aengus. Photo: Sheila Langan

Approaching Dun Aengus. Photo: Sheila Langan

Its three semi-circular rings end at the edge of a 300-foot cliff that drops straight into the Atlantic. Excavations conducted in the 1990s revealed that Dun Aengus was at one point regularly inhabited, though some theories suggest that the inner-most ring was used for religious or ceremonial purposes. Others have argued that it served a military function.

Steps up to Dun Aengus. Photo: Arkell Weygandt.

Steps up to Dun Aengus. Photo: Arkell Weygandt.

A defensive construction known as chiveaux de frise remains in place today, with forbidding stone spikes and slabs studding the ground along the approach, though a path has been cleared for contemporary visitors.

Remains of the chiveaux de frise that protected Dun Aengus. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Remains of the chiveaux de frise that protected Dun Aengus. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

As we made our way up to the cliff top, four people were returning to the visitor center. They were the last people we saw for the next hour – when we reached Dun Aengus, it was shockingly, wonderfully, deserted.

Exterior wall of Dun Aengus. Photo: Sheila Langan

Exterior wall of Dun Aengus. Photo: Sheila Langan

Having heard and read that it’s usually thronged with visitors during the tourist season, we knew full well how lucky we were. Despite the excavation and some restoration work, Dun Aengus feels more or less untouched – completely wild and pre-historic. The lack of barriers and the sheer isolation make the view and the experience a thousand times more majestic and exhilarating than the Cliffs of Moher or anything remotely comparable.

View from Dun Aengus. Photo: Sheila Langan

View from Dun Aengus. Photo: Sheila Langan

The sun sinking into the Atlantic reminded us that we had a 5:00pm ferry to catch, so we ran back down the hillside, dodging the slippery patches of limestone, hopped back on the bikes and pedaled towards the coast road.

Sun setting beyond the cliffs. Photo: Sheila Langan

Sun setting beyond the cliffs. Photo: Sheila Langan

As we passed back through Kilmurvey, a black, white and brown dog leapt into stride alongside us. We thought he might stop when we passed the last of the houses, but he didn’t. We thought he might turn back when we reached the beach, but he kept going. When we slowed down, he slowed down. When we sped up, he did too. Yelling over the wind at each other, we decided he was herding us back to the ferry.

Dog running alongside us as we biked the coast road. Photo: Arkell Weygandt.

Dog running alongside us as we biked the coast road. Photo: Arkell Weygandt.

On our right side, cottages, ruins and stone walls flashed by. To the left of us, the shoreline wove in and out, sandy stretches of beach giving way to rocky outcrops. Paradise for some people might be palm trees and sunshine or the top of a mountain, but for the half hour we spent cycling the twists and curves of that road, drinking in the ocean air, I had found mine.

Cottage along the coast road on Inishmore. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Cottage along the coast road on Inishmore. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

So when all three of us admitted we wanted to stay, there was no question about it. And luckily, Joel D’Anjou, the owner of Mainistir House Hostel, agreed to take us in at quarter to five on New Year’s Eve.

It was pitch dark by the time we got there, not a car in the car park and nary a light on in the house. Visions of low budget horror movies danced through our heads as we approached the reception desk, deserted but for a radio playing classical music. For a good 10 minutes we shouted “Hello?” through different doors and grew increasingly suspicious of our surroundings, which included a portable ironing board with scorch marks and a magazine from 1996.

Approaching the hostel with some trepidation. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Approaching the hostel with some trepidation. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

When a door we’d thought was locked suddenly flung open, I shrieked and then sheepishly tried to pass it off as a very excited “Hi!” Joel was completely unperturbed and went to retrieve our room keys from behind the reception desk. As we chatted and settled the bill, his wry humor dispelled all slasher-flick delusions of five minutes earlier.

Since arriving on the island nearly 30 years ago he’s become a local fixture, as testified by the framed newspaper clippings praising his “mostly vegetarian” buffet dinner as one of the best meals you can have on Inishmore. He told us about the havoc wreaked the same week the year before by a massive storm that washed away some of the pier and cut off boat access for days. He recalled a letter he once received addressed simply to “The Black Man, The Hill, Inis Mor.” Learning we didn’t have dinner plans, he called Joe Watty’s and asked them to hold a table for us. “Goodbye, bye, bye, bye, bye,” he said into the receiver before hanging up – the surest indication I know that someone has become well and truly Irish.

At Joe Watty’s we feasted on fish and chips and sipped whiskey next to the fireplace, watching people file in and listening to them move seamlessly between conversations in Irish and English. We were not the only tourists – the group at the next table was from Quebec, and two guys from India who had been on the same ferry as us appeared later on in the night. Shortly after 10pm, the dog who had herded us to the pier came running through the door, made a beeline for our table and snuggled beside us in the booth. Maybe this was his plan all along, because we lavished him with scraps and belly rubs until the manager came over to say he wasn’t allowed in the bar. “Come on Shadow, you’ve had enough,” he said sternly leading the dog outside. “Go home.”

Annalisa and Shadow at Joe Watty's. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

Annalisa and Shadow at Joe Watty’s. Photo: Arkell Weygandt

A band set up on a stage in the corner and launched into Johnny Cash covers before switching to trad. Next to the bar a small space cleared and two older men and women started set dancing. What at first seemed quaint soon became downright amazing and intimidating as they picked up the pace, spinning around so quickly that one misstep would have sent them flying across the room. If the dancers themselves were entertaining this possibility, it didn’t show at all. They just smiled at each other serenely and laughed every time they switched partners, hopefully secure in the knowledge that they were a million times better at dancing than the young ones who took over the floor when the band started playing Rihanna covers.

By the time the countdown to 2015 began, people were spilling out the door. At midnight on the nose everyone cheered, started singing Auld Lang Syne, and we wished each other Happy New Year.

It was 2015 on Inishmore. I thought about my friends in New York, where it was still 2014, just getting ready to go out. I thought about the way my 2014 had started, wine drunk and dancing in a smoke-filled loft. I couldn’t have dreamt up a more different way to start this year if I had tried. But I hadn’t even tried, and it turned out wonderful.

2014 comes to a beautiful close on Inishmore. Photo: Sheila Langan

2014 comes to a beautiful close on Inishmore. Photo: Sheila Langan

Travel section ofIrishCentralhttp://www.irishcentral.com/culture/travel/

Cliffs of Moher | Aran Islands Wedding | Laura and Mitch

Today, at long last, I want to tell you all about Laura and Mitch and their amazing wedding in Ireland. Laura and Mitch originally booked me for an intimate wedding in their hometown in Florida. Then, one day not long after the digital ink had dried, I get an email from Laura. How would I like to go to Ireland? Gosh, I dunno… well maybe HECK YEAH!! And so there we were in Ireland. Just the three of us at sunrise on the Cliffs of Moher (otherwise known to all you loyal Princess Bride fans as The Cliffs of Insanity). And after we spent a thrilling and freezing hour making gorgeous photos at the cliffs, it was time for a ferry ride to the Aran Islands for the actual ceremony, which would occur in the Teampall Chiarain on Inishmor. Their ceremony was performed by a Celtic priest and completely unlike any other wedding ceremony I’ve ever witnessed. It was unquestionably the most intimate and beautiful ceremony I’ve ever been a part of, so much so that I found myself holding my breath more than once during the part of the ceremony inside the temple for fear that someone might notice I was still there. Between you and me, I’ve never seen two people so much in love, and I’m deeply honored to have been a part of their story. And so, here are a few of my favorite photos from Laura and Mitch’s amazing wedding day.

Mystery of the moving rocks off Irish island solved

Scientists have uncovered the mystery of the moving rocks on the rugged shoreline of the Aran Islands.Photo by: Tourism Ireland

A mystery on the Aran Islands off the Irish West Coast has finally been solved by one of the world’s top geologists.

Something had picked up massive boulders off a beach and propelled them over high cliffs to a flat landscape beyond. The largest of these boulders weighed about 78 tons, and  they now lie some 40 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Smaller boulders, weighing about 4 tons each, lie more than 820 feet inland.

“The local people say that these rocks are moving,” said geologist Ronadh Cox, a professor of geosciences and chairwoman of the maritime studies program at Williams College in Massachusetts.

The mystery of how they got there has finally been solved.

The most likely culprit, a tsunami hasn’t hit Ireland  since 1755, when a magnitude 8.7 earthquake in Portugal sent tidal waves across the ocean to Ireland.

By dating the rocks they proved that some arrived on land  thrown up from the ocean 2,000 years ago, but others arrived less than 50 years ago,a key piece of evidence that leaves powerful storm waves holding the smoking gun, Cox said.

A local man provided much needed evidence when he recalled a ferocious storm in 1991 that deposited massive boulders from the sea bed up a cliff and hundreds of feet away

Cox hunted through Irish government data and found that in the winter of 1991,a particularly ferocious storm did indeed hit the area. ”

She said the mystery was solved and the ocean’s power is truly astonishing “The waves can just climb these cliffs in amazing ways,” she said.

Original Article Source (Irish Central.com): http://www.irishcentral.com/news/mystery-of-the-moving-rocks-off-irish-island-solved-133521838-237739871.html

Arancini

The name above has nothing to do with the Aran Islands perse. In Italian it means little oranges. I remember it whilst watching the first game of this years six nations rugby match, Ireland versus Italy. A game that had out hearts racing as we noted how well the Italians played. It is a paradox that the Italians have taken to rugby with such a passion, after all one associates Italy and especially Rome with the beautiful game, football.

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Arancini, or Suppli as the Romans call it are delicious little saffron rice balls filled with Mozzarella or Ragu. Generally it is a form of food ‘on the go’ but can also be served as a starter or made smaller as an accompaniment to pre dinner drinks. It is a great way to make use of left over rice but also making it from scratch is worth it.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 tablespoons of butter

1/5 onion finely chopped

1 cup of arborio rice ( This is the rice used for making risotto)

A glass of white wine

Salt and Pepper

1/5 cup of grated Parmesan

2 beaten eggs

1/3 cup of milk

2 cups of seasoned breadcrumbs

2 cups of chicken stock

3 tablespoons of tomato puree

6 ounces of mozzarella (grated)

oil for frying

Directions

In a heavy skillet, put oil and butter , add onions, and cook until translucent. Add rice and stir until the entire mixture is coated. Next , add white wine and continuously over a medium heat until it is absorbed. Start to had the half a cup of chicken stock and tomato puree stirring until that is absorbed also. Continue in the manner adding stock and stirring continuously for 20 – 25 minutes until the rice is cooked but remains aldente, stirring the grated cheese and seasoning a bit of Basel if necessary.

Let the risotto cool for about 8 hours. Once cooled, place flour in a shallow bowl, the eggs in another, and breadcrumbs in a third. Take a small amount of the rice in your hand creating an indention (hole) in the center. Place a piece of cheese in the center and wrap the rice around the cheese creating an oblong / egg shape.

Continue to use up all the rice making the Arancini and place on grease proof paper. Take each rice bowl and first dip in the flour then add the egg mixture, and thirdly the breadcrumbs. Return to the grease proof paper and continue to coat the rest of the rice balls. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry three or four rice balls at a time until crisp and golden brown. Remove once completely golden all over and place on a paper towel in a warm oven, gas mark 2. Continue until all the bowls are ready. Serve hot.

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Visitare le Isole Aran è stato un dono del cielo e dell’amicizia. (Italian & English)

Mi trovavo per concerti al mio terzo viaggio in Irlanda e nei giorni passati a Galway con mio cugino e Alessandro, un mio caro amico, ricevemmo la proposta di visitare un po’ la zona. Alessandro era già stato alle Isole e ci propose di andare là, così, accompagnati dalla simpaticissima amicizia di Joe e Katherine ci organizzammo per visitare Inis Mor.

Già il viaggio in traghetto si era caricato di allegria e gioco. In qualche modo i passeggeri erano venuti a sapere della mia passione per il canto e così mi hanno fatto improvvisare qualche canzone italiana lungo il viaggio.

Appena sbarcati ci siamo fermati a mangiare qualcosa e poi, muniti di una macchina, abbiamo iniziato a gustare l’aria, il paesaggio, l’autenticità della gente, genuina e accogliente. Inutile dire l’emozione viva e la gioia di camminare sul quel suolo. L’aria, il paesaggio, le persone… tutto sorrideva di una pace energica.

Arrivammo ben presto sulla scogliera ovest, dove l’Atlantico incontrava le rocce scavate nei secoli con forza e nobiltà. Come resistere a questa poesia? Io sono per mia natura attratto dalla bellezza e non ho mai trovato bellezza più completa di quella seminata nella creazione. Ecco: là trovavo tutte le sensazioni di cui ero assetato. Il vento, l’acqua, i prati e le rocce. E non potevo resistere, cantavo e cantavo di continuo correndo qua e là tra le pietre antiche, testimoni di sagge culture di un tempo.

A un certo punto trovai un prato, davvero invitante per il mio cuore. Mi son steso ricordando di essere terra come il suolo che mi ospitava e sentirmi fratello di quella natura non poteva che suscitare una lode semplice e felice al nostro Creatore. Steso là, ad occhi chiusi, gustavo tutta la bellezza di quel momento che avrei voluto fosse infinito. Senza dubbio si è ancorato nel mio cuore.

E infine la benedizione che sentivo di lasciare a quelle scogliere: “Deep peace of the running wave to you!”. Un canto libero e tranquillo che ho voluto donare come un bambino a sua madre.

Ma il tempo scorreva velocissimo su quel paradiso, e siamo dovuti tornare indietro verso casa. Ed ecco che durante il nostro cammino ho intravisto in un recinto alcuni amici: simpatici asinelli che ci guardavano con quello sguardo tipico degli animali abituati a veder passare stranieri. Uno di loro mi colpì: era albino, tutto bianco; una meraviglia! Così ho provato a chiamarli: si sono voltati verso di me, mi guardavano chiedendosi, forse, cosa mai volesse questo essere umano vestito tutto di marrone. Ed ecco che dopo poco l’asino bianco si avvicinò a me e si lasciò accarezzare con tanta tenerezza. Come esprimere la mia allegria? Ero davvero felice grazie a tanti regali. Ok. Potevo tornare a casa sazio.

Ma l’avventura non finì qua. Sul traghetto durante il viaggio di ritorno c’era una coppia di novelli sposi e qualcuno (chissà chi…) li informò che c’era là con loro un certo frate cantante. Fu così che mi chiesero di cantare per loro un’Ave Maria e con questo canto concludemmo il nostro viaggio.

Dio ci dona pezzi di Paradiso qua e là sulla terra per ricordarci che non siamo soli, per ricordarci la nostra vera meta, per ricordarci di quale sostanza siamo fatti: libertà, gioia e pace. Questo sono le Isole Aran: una finestra aperta sul Paradiso che ci attende.

(Translated into english by friar Eunan McMullan, Ireland) —————————————————————

Visiting the Aran Islands was a gift from heaven and the result of friendship.It was my third trip to Ireland for concerts and I found myself in Galway with my cousin, and a dear friend also called Alessandro, when it was suggested that we visit a little of the sights in the area. Alessandro had already been to the Islands and proposed a trip there.So, accompanied by our wonderful friends Joe and Katherine we organized a trip to Inis Mor.Even the ferry crossing was filled with fun and games. Somehow the passengers came to know about my passion for singing and I was obliged to improvise with a couple of Italian songs along the way. On disembarking from the vessel we stopped to eat something and then with the aid of a car we set off to experience the fresh air, the countryside, the authenticity of the people – so genuine and welcoming. I cannot describe the emotions
and the joy of walking across the land. The air, the countryside, the people… everything seemed to smile with a peace-filled energy.We quickly arrived on a western cliff where the Atlantic ocean meets rock – carved with strength and nobility over many centuries. How could I resist such poetry? By nature I am attracted to beauty and I have never found beauty more complete than that sown in the
creation that surrounds us. Here, I found the water that I had been thirsting for – the winds and the fields and the rocks. I could not resist. I sang and sang moving here and there through the ancient stones that spoke of ancient and wise cultures of the past.

Suddenly I found myself in a meadow, so attractive to my soul. I lay down, remembering that I was made of earth like the soil that was welcoming me and feeling myself to be a brother of Nature, felt compelled to raise a simple and happy praise to our Creator. Lying there, with my eyes closed, I was savouring the beauty of the moment and I wished that it could last for ever. It doubtless entered into my heart and I felt compelled to leave a blessing for those cliffs: “Deep peace of the running wave to you!”. A song, free and peaceful which I wanted to give as a child’s offering to his mother.But the time ran very quickly in that paradise and we had to return back home. During our walk back I saw some “friends” in a pen, little donkeys with the typical aspect of those that are used to seeing strangers passing. One in particular struck me. It was completely white, an albino, and marvellous to behold. I tried to call them, and they seemed to turn questioningly towards me as if wondering what this human being dressed all in brown wanted of them. After a little while the white donkey approached and let himself be carressed with such tenderness. How can I express the joy of that moment? I was truly happy, thanks to such wonderful gifts. I could return home satisfied.The adventure didn’t finish there. On the return crossing there was a newly wed couple and someone…. who knows who?…. had told them there was a certain singing friar on board. It was thus that I was asked to sing for them an Ave Maria and it was with this we concluded our voyage.

God gives us little pieces of paradise here and there on this earth to remind us that we are not alone, and to recall to our minds the reason for which we have been made: for liberty joy and peace. These are the Aran Islands, an open window to the Paradise that waits for us.

Paradoxically our hearts are delicate yet robust

This morning as I finally decided that Xmas was over and that a form of routine was reluctantly the way that I could get in touch with the islands natural rhythm and introduce a bit of balance back to hopefully pre – xmas levels.

I’ve noticed over the years that I excitedly look forward to breaking free of routine and always, without fail, by early January I run back to the familiarity + safety of my routine.

Before I set off up the hill, I noticed that I engaged in my usual mind game with myself, whether it’s winter sea swimming or exercising.

Everyday when I am going for a swim, I come up with the most plausible and valid reasons why it makes no sense whatsoever to get into the sea….. Knowing full well that I am going to …….

I’ve never backed out yet.

Also, I have never once gotten out of the sea or completed my exercise and said “I wish I hadn’t have done that”.

I took off up the hills, fueled by the effects of overindulgence and with my mind full of ideas, goals, and possibilities for the year ahead.

In addition to that, there is a natural re-calibration that comes from living on this island – it’s a potent and effective mixture of living with nature, the elements and a warm, vibrant, close community. It’s impossible not to be impacted.

As I hit the first hill, in sequence; my legs tightened, my lungs opened, I breathed deeply, and boom!!….. my mind and heart opened.

Paradoxically our hearts are delicate yet robust and serendipitously this island is gently rugged intimately remote, wild yet very very beautiful.

I find it right at this moment the thought of looking ahead at my life to be futile as I am so conscious and naturally immersed in my gratitude + awareness for living on this stunning rock in the Atlantic ocean.

Guest Post on our Blog in 2015

The team at aranislands.ie accept blogs from guest bloggers who have an interest in the Aran Islands or the region in general.

As one of the leading tourism websites in the West of Ireland, our blog has an established fanbase. We accept blog posts that have previously published as well as new unique blog posts.

Just email us at info@aranislands.ie and we will take it from there.

 

 

FINDING LOVE ON THE ARAN ISLANDS

lovers on aran

I was initially inspired to write this heading when i saw that there was to be a singles weekend in the Island’s Hotel, and it got me thinking.

 
I thought, imagined and, indeed, even reminisced about how the romance and magic of this Island can wrap a couple up in a loving embrace, while they go on to share and experience the very best that Mother Nature has to offer.  (more…)

Eoin Mullen takes first big European sprint win in Switzerland

A delighted Eoin Mullen has added his first international sprint victory to the bronze medal he took in the European Championships during the summer, once again underlining his progress towards the top against the biggest and most powerful men of the bike game.

Eoin Mullen has taken his first international win on the track, storming to victory in the sprint at the Three Days of Aigle meeting in Switzerland at the weekend.

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A Day on Inis Meaín – From Dawn to Departure

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I awake before dawn to almost complete silence. I strain my ears and barely hear the muted lowing of a cow and the muffled lapping of waves. I am enveloped in peaceful solitude. I am on Inis Meáin. I sit by the window and wait for day’s first blush to appear and lose myself in dawn as it comes creeping up over the eastern horizon. As I watch the sky, a faint rustling below me precedes the sudden appearance of a wren and a pair of robins who propel themselves from the thicket to alight on the stone wall in a flurry of tik­-tik-­tiks and melodic trills. I am a recent visitor to this island, only coming for the first time a fortnight ago. I was so enchanted that I have returned to see more of, and to spend more time on, this least­ visited of the Aran Islands,  this place of unspoiled beauty, of limestone karst, and patchwork of green fields delineated and defined by dry stone walls.

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Dara Molloy Celtic Priest, Aran Islands, Ireland

Dara Molloy Celtic Priest, Aran Islands, Ireland

Dara Molloy is a Celtic priest whom I met this summer when visiting the Aran Island of Inis Mor, off Galway and the West Coast of Ireland. Dara authored “Legends In The Landscape, A Pocket Guide to Inis Mór, Árainn,” which provides a wonderful introduction to the area’s history of rich Celtic spiritual traditions and a lore-filled road map to the significant cultural sites across the island.

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Aran Island Journey

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The Aran Islands, they sound exotic, perched off the coast of Ireland, next stop Newfoundland.

All I knew of them was the old black and white film, Man of Aran by Robert Flaherty.

A dramatic soundtrack accompanying grainy images of rock strewn land, high cliffs and storm lashed coasts. Emphasising how hard a life it was for the few inhabitants of this wild unforgiving landscape.

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“A lot of things catch the eye – fewer catch the heart”

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I wrote this heading last Wednesday and had a general idea about what I was trying to express based on my experiences traveling to many places all over the world and the memory of them will stay with me forever. My own experience of this beautiful island is that; it catches my heart and fills my soul in a deeply personal way. I have met people all over the world and in the most unusual places and circumstances. Their lives have been so positively influenced and their sense of place in the world forever enhanced by the island.

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Aran Islands’ Inis Mor: Wind, Rock, Roots & Resurrection

The Aran Island of Inis Mor is a special place.

On Inis Mor, you can see the wind. You can see it in the ruddy faces of the men who work outside. You can see the wind in the rose-tinged stone of ancient ruins, imbued with the color of the “red tide” algae, borne inland from the sea by the stiff breeze.  You can see the wind imprinted on Inis Mor’s limestone landscape, with some rock surfaces scoured smooth, and others dappled with deep depressions.

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“The truth is what you feel” – The Aran Islands

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When you come to this wonderful island, one of the challenges that is worth facing and overcoming is; to give yourself permission to feel your feelings, tune into your senses – to dispense your mainland head, which is all shorthand for leaving aside your business thoughts, relationship worries, materialism and so much more so you can just, live, breath and feel – the right things will happen.

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Gleann Na Ndeor – Inis Mór

I decided to embrace the rhythm of the island and sleep with the curtains open. The sunrise either crept in stealthily or else I was just nicely tired from the fresh air . But either way it was bright as I set off to cycle east in the early morning sunlight. Galway Bay was twinkling and shimmering as I cycled silently through the morning.

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The Aran Islands: Our First Night

Before we embarked on our week long trip to Ireland, my friends and I did what most people do: We asked around for travel recommendations. “Oh, you totally have to go the Aran Islands,” my friend Matt said. “It was one of my favorite places.”

Indeed, Matt was right. We arrived in the evening from Galway, our giant wheeled suitcases in tow, unsure of what to expect. Could we catch a cab to our Inn? Where could we find a restaurant? More importantly, why hadn’t we done any research on this particular location before we came? We’d read up on every other destination.

Aran Travel Tip #1: It’s more remote than you’re probably expecting (in a good way). There are no taxis and no rental car depots, so plan ahead.

So what are five weary travelers to do when arriving to a remote Irish island after dark? Fortunately, Noel came to our rescue.

 

Noel and girls

Noel and his five feisty charges.

 

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Energy Self-sufficiency on the Aran Islands – blog

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Did you know that the Aran Islands are planning to augment their clean-green image in the next ten years by getting rid of the use of fossil fuels altogether from the islands. At the moment, it is not possible to buy petrol legally on Inis Mor. This is because the health and safety regulations and the insurance costs associated with its transport and storage make it uneconomical for anyone to import it legally. However, instead of trying to get it back, we are going the opposite direction and planning to get rid of diesel and kerosene as well!

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Hard work paves road to Rio for Aran sweater

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

From the solitude of Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands off the Galway coast, to the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, 20-year-old Eoin Mullen could be forgiven for thinking this is all just a dream.

Hard work paves road to Rio for Aran sweater

TOUGH ROAD: “I realise every tenth-of-a-second from now comes from months of intense training and

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Hard work paves road to Rio for Aran sweater

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

From the solitude of Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands off the Galway coast, to the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, 20-year-old Eoin Mullen could be forgiven for thinking this is all just a dream.

TOUGH ROAD: "I realise every tenth-of-a-second from now comes from months of intense training and from sticking with the programme and lifestyle," says Eoin Mullen. Picture: Andrew Downes

TOUGH ROAD: “I realise every tenth-of-a-second from now comes from months of intense training and from sticking with the programme and lifestyle,” says Eoin Mullen. Picture: Andrew Downes (more…)

The Aran Islands – “That Island Energy”

The Aran Islands are located just 20km off County Galway in the West of Ireland. Inis Mor which has a population of 800 left me thinking I not only had an island escape from the kaos and distractions from day to day living on the mainland, that I had been somewhere very beautiful, very unique, and very Aran.

A ferry goes to Inis Mor island from a picturesque port in Connemara where you will see the local fishing boats as you board the ferry surrounded by connemara’s 12 pins. The double decker bus trip from Galway is equally as scenic with its coastal views of Galway Bay and the introduction to the region of Connemara. A boat also leaves from the cliffs of Moher each day. And one can also fly there in 7 minutes if they wish.

Once at the pier of Kilronan I hired a bike. The cycle to Dun Aonghasa is the most popular way to view the Island which could be described as an outdoor museum of stone monuments, churches and forts.There is a place called ‘The Seven Churches’ . Churches seem to be everywhere. There are monasteries, pagan standing stones, beehive huts, and The bronze age fort of Dun Aonghasa (there are three forts on the island) sits on a 300 ft cliff that stretches along the 8km western side of the island. Not only am I on the island of ‘Saints & Scholars’, The view is spectacular, the scene is angelic.

A simple feature, and a sight that lingers is the island itself, the dominant rocky limestone landscape full of small paddocks bordered by walls made of stone that had be stacked by hand. This has a maze like complexion, many of them have different shaped rocks and patterns from which they were constructed. Each one with its own story. It simply inspired my imagination and took me on a journey where I was at one with myself. I took a lot of photos of these stone walls. And it isn’t just me, books have been written them.

The Islanders also speak Irish. It took me a while to understand their english accent and vocabulary which is poetic, expressive, and metaphorical. Irish itself is full of stories and metaphors so there seems to be a lot interpretation involved, and where a lot of phrases in english are derived from. It adds to the charm and authenticity of the experience.

Aside from my highlight which was Dun Aonghas and the cliffs, I discover an eclectic mix of interesting things. There is a beautiful seal colony, stunning beaches, and exotic wild flowers. A famous film called “Man of Aran” and its cottage. The Aran Sweater Market. The Worm Hole which is the venue for the Red Bull Cliff Diving. There is 3 lighthouses, There is great traditional Music and lots of musicians. The food is superb such as Aran Cheese, and there is the Island Energy co-op!!.

The island has you leaving it thinking you had been somewhere special. Not only that you had left the hussle and bustle of the mainland; You get that “island” energy!!!. Rarely do I feel ‘effected’ just by being in a certain place.

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Christmas on Inis Oirr – blog

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Great photo sent into us today (from an iphone) with dramatic waves on the pier due to the recent storm activity hitting the Aran Islands. If you have photo’s or information that you would like published on the website blog then feel free to send it to

Authors: …

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Woman of Aran


I’m Donna and I work for Tourism Ireland in Sydney having worked my way across the world with the company after a couple of stints in our offices in both Frankfurt and Paris. I love to cook, eat, travel, take photos, walk and play tag rugby. A couple of months ago I travelled to Inishmore on the Aran Islands for what must have been my fourth day t…

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Visit Cobh, Co. Cork with Orlaith


Orlaith (pronounced Orla) Mc Carthy is Tourism Ireland’s Public Affairs Executive based in Dublin, but she’s originally from Cobh, Co. Cork. Orlaith enjoys politics, baking and exploring new places.

Visit Cobh, Co. Cork with OrlaithCobh is such a wonderful place to visit and it is even more spectacular when the sun is shining. Having lived away from my home town, Cobh…

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A tourist in my own county


Quick Bio: I’m Leonie, a proud Kerrywoman, based in Tourism Ireland’s Dublin office. I love to travel and have been lucky enough to explore much of South East Asia, South America and Australasia…however, the two most beautiful and inspiring places I have ever been are the Beara Peninsula in West Cork and the stretch of strand between Bal…

(more…)

Lots to Love in Limerick


Quick Bio: Roisin here! I’m lucky enough to say that my job for the last three years has been telling people how amazing Ireland is. Now I have the chance to let you in on Ireland’s best kept secret; my native County Limerick. Lots to Love in Limerick

She’s been celebrated as ‘a lady’ in song and has reigned as European City of Sport; now in 2014 Limerick will be crowned I…

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Two Wheels Good


Quick Bio: Aileen here, I’m from Co. Kerry and work for Tourism Ireland in Amsterdam. I love cooking, travelling and cycling – I own five bikes, and it’s still not enough! I love getting back home to fresh mountain air and my mother’s brown bread. @aileenverykeen

Two Wheels Good

On top of An Grianán Aileach, Co. Donegal

One of the most noticeable changes I’ve…

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A good reason to travel to the West of Ireland

Hello, it's me!
Quick bio:
Hi, I am Greg, I’m French and I work for Tourism Ireland in Paris. My job is to convince people –and even intimidate them – that they need to go Ireland. Now. When I don’t work, I love walking in the city or the countryside, going to pubs and concerts, football and rugby matches, having fun with friends and family.Cheers! @twit…

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Literary Ireland, some personal favourites, by Sarah Kenny, Tourism Ireland Amsterdam daughter of the legendary Kenny Clann of Kenny’s Book Shop in Galway


 3 of Ireland’s top literary spots

While the Ireland map is dotted and peppered with literary gems too many to mention, I’ve picked out some of my favourite spots to give you a taster..

John B Keans pubKerry
During a recent visit to Listowel, one of Ireland’s great literary towns, I immediately sensed the town’s respect and celebration of its writers, past and p…

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Dara Molloy – Celtic Monk & Priest

I have been performing wedding blessings and marriage ceremonies for over 30 years. For the last 15 years, or so, the ceremonies I perform are independent of any particular church or institution. Please check our page about Celtic Nature Wedding on The Aran Islands

Who I am:

  • I am a Celtic priest and monk
  • I am in my early 60’s
  • I am married with four young children I belong to the Celtic spiritual tradition but not to any formal church, sect or cult
  • I am freelance and self-employed

Weddings at Aran Islands Hotel

The Aran Islands is the perfect destination for a wedding venue, from intimate to extravagant, traditional to unexpected. The Aran Islands offer breathtaking wedding receptions which create an unforgettable wedding experience that is uniquely yours and Every bride’s desire is to have their wedding day special. The Aran Islands is a romantic destination for a wedding. It offers great peace & tranquillity but it is also an island of great. Start your married life on one of Irelands favourite Islands and make your special day the one that your guests will never forget. fun & activity.most memorable day of your lives.

 

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Kilkenny – Where To Eat, Drink, And Be Seen


Dublin holds the honour these days, but did you know Kilkenny was once the capital of Ireland? Ok, that was back in the 1600s but, as Alexandra Murphy finds out, the city still retains its medieval magic.

Kilkenny is the perfect hybrid of old and new, city and town, culture and clubbing. So when visiting the old capital, where are the hotspots to…

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The first US President to visit Ireland


History tells us that Ulysses S. Grant was commander of the Union armies during the American Civil War. Director Steven Speilberg most recently told us he was quite the confidante of Abrabham Lincoln.

He was also the first President of the United States to visit Ireland.

Ulysses S Grant

Ulysses S Grant. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Decades before John F Kennedy…

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The Aran Islands are  located in the center of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is Accessible from Rossavel (Connemara & Galway). The Aran Islands are also accessible from Doolin which is close to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Learn More about The Wild Atlantic Way