Is there anywhere more quintessentially Irish than the Aran Islands? Inis Mor, Inishmaan and Inisheer offer the best of the west of Ireland. Arguably, these three wee islands on the Atlantic are peak Ireland. They offer stunning scenery – rolling green fields framed in stone walls, sweet little cottages, pre-Christian and early Christian heritage sites and of course the ocean. The small local communities offer visitors a warm welcome, bringing the cead mile failte spirit alive. And of course, this is the birthplace of Aran sweaters, one of the most popular Irish gifts of all time. It isn’t hard to list reasons to love the Aran Islands. The hard part is creating a list that is short enough to read in one sitting!
- Speak Irish. This is one spot where you can immerse yourself in the sound of spoken Irish and even try to speak it yourself. The islands are a Gaeltacht district. Aran Islanders are bi-lingual. Most will happily chat with you in Irish and English. Don’t speak any Irish? This is the place to learn. You can a whole array of Irish language courses here. And you can do your homework in the local pub.
- See Dun Aonghasa. This one spot combines so many iconic and captivating elements of Irish scenery. It’s an ancient stone fort on a 300-foot cliff. The views in any direction are dazzling, and the insight into our early ancestors is fascinating. It’s the crown jewel of the Aran Island’s many gorgeous heritage spots.
- Get Moving. The Aran Islands offer a great way to make fitness part of your vacation. They are a haven of outdoor sport and activity. Because the islands are so small, the best way to get around is walking or biking. And being islands, they are surrounded by ocean. Surfing is an increasingly popular activity here, as is rock climbing.
- Feel the Peace. When you board the ferry for the Aran Islands, you’re departing not just the mainland but also the modern world. While you’ll have all the comforts you need on the islands, it does feel like you’ve travelled back in time a century or so. And that makes it very, very peace. There’s no better place to unplug and destress.
- Shop, Create, Enjoy. While everyone knows the Aran Islands are the home of Aran sweaters, those timeless Irish gifts, not everyone realizes those jumpers are just one of the many, many crafts the islands produce. With so much peace and beauty, people naturally feel creative here. The islands are a haven for artists and crafters. Exploring the beautiful creations here is a great way to get inspired to try your hand at making something gorgeous yourself.
These small islands occupy a very large space in the Irish imagination. Visitors flock here from every county in Ireland and all around the globe seeking the scenery and serenity they offer. The Aran Islands offer all of the best Irish gifts – hospitality, creativity, spiritual rejuvenation and of course spectacular sweaters.