All good things go in three

wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.

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

A touring group practicing Tai Chi on the Beach

DSC07329

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

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 .

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

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

1-Lapwing crop

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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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.

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 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