About the Aran Islands
Inis Oírr (translates from Oirthir meaning “Eastern Island”) – the smallest of the three Aran Islands
- Size: 3km by 2km
- Population: 300 approx
The island enjoys a good tourist trade, mainly from Doolin, as it is only a 30 minute ferry across from here. There are many attractions here for both day-trippers and people who want to visit for longer.
Inis Oirr also has a good selection of transport options:
- Mini-bus guided tour
- Pony and trap guided tour
- Hire a bicycle
Eat & Stay
Inis Oirr has a number of places for it’s visitors to enjoy good local food, from locally caught and sourced seafood, to the freshly baked brown bread made each and every day.
There is also a good number of Bed & Breakfasts on the island, as well as a hotel, guesthouse, campsite and hostel. If you would like more information on accomodation on Inis Oirr, please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Stone Fort – Dun Formna, built near the highest point on the island, contains O’Brien’s Castle within it’s wall
Churches – Cill Gobnait, Cill na n-Seacht Inion and St. Caomhan (St.Kevin’s) Church, the latter is a spectacular ruin, located in the graveyard on Inis Oirr. Over the years, sand has been blown in and around the church to make it appear as if it has sunk into the ground.
Recent History – The Plassey Shipwreck is a famous landmark on Inis Oirr, she wrecked here in March 1960. Read more about in in our Blog.
Arts Centre – Aras Eanna is the only Arts Centre in the Gaeltacht. Throughout the year therare exhibitions and workshops hosted here. See their comprehensive website for more information.
Inis Meain (translates to “Middle Island”) – the middle of the three Aran Islands
- Size: 4km by 2.5km
- Population: 200 approx
Inis Meain is the least visited of the three islands and has its own quiet beauty. It’s visitors appreciate the unspoiled tranquility and escape from the stress and noise of modern living.
- Hire a Bicycle
Eat & Stay
Inis Meain has three accomodation options:
- Bed & Breakfasts
If you would like more information or help finding accomodation on Inis Meain, please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Stone Forts – Dun Fearbhai and Dun Chonchuir, the latter is the best example of a circular fort on all three of the islands.
Churches – Mary Immaculate Church and Cill Cheannainn. Mary Immaculate Church has beautiful stained-glass windows by the famous Harry Clarke Studios. The alter was built by James Pearse, father of the Irish patriot Padraic Pearse. CillCheannain, according to legend, Cheannain was the mother of the ‘seven sons of the king’, which is the name of another church nearby.
Inis Mor (translates to “Big Island”) – the largest of the three Aran Islands
- Size: 14km by 3.8km
- Population: 900 approx
It is the most visited island, with up to 2,000 visitors each day during the busy summer season. The island is a lively place at night, with great Irish music and dance shows.
Kilronan is the main village on the island, where the ferry boats pull in. It has several dining, shopping and accomodation options to choose from. It also has the only ATM on the islands (genuine off-shore banking!) Other villages include Killeany, south of Kilronan and Kilmurvey – close to Dun Aengus.
- Hire a Bicycle
- Pony & Trap Guided Tour
- Mini-Bus Guided Tour
Eat & Stay
Inis Mor has numerous accomodation options:
- Bed & Breakfasts
If you would like more information or help finding accomodation on Inis Mor, please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Four Stone Forts – Dun Eochla, Dun Duchathair, Dun Eoganachta & Dun Aengus. Dun Aengus is the most famous of all the forts on the Aran Islands. This amazing fort sits perched on the highest cliffs of Inis Mor. The stone “Chevaux de Frise” at Dun Aengus is the most impressive example of it’s kind known to exist. Read our News and Offers for more on this impressive structure.
Churches – Na Seacht Teampaill (the Seven Churches) is near Dun Eoghanachta. This has ruins of churches which were built on the earlier site of a monastery dedicated to St. Breckan. Teampaill Bheanain (St. Benan’s Church) is close to Killeany and is supposedly the world’s smallest church.
Areas of Natural Beauty
The Worm Hole is a naturally formed rectangular pool close to the base of Dun Aengus.
Inis Mor’s Seal Colony is also worth a visit, close to the beautiful beach at Portmurvy.
“If Ireland is intriguing as being an island off the West of Europe, then Aran, as an island off the West of Ireland, is still more so; it is Ireland raised to the power of two.“
– Author Tim Robinson
The Aran Islands are located in Galway Bay and are part of County Galway. Only 6 miles separates Inis Oirr from Doolin, it is the closest mainland point to the islands. The sounds (or sea areas) between the islands are about 1.5 miles wide, and 10 – 12 miles separates Inis Mor from Connemara.
The islands are one of Ireland’s Gaeltacht areas, which means the people living there speak Irish as their first language. Most of the inhabitants can now switch to and fro between Irish and English, but some of the older residents can only speak as Gaelige (in Irish).
Each of the three islands have extensive ancient and religious sites worth exploring, including a Bronze Age mound and a “sunken” church on Inis Oirr and reputedly the smallest church in the world on Inis Mor.
Between 800 AD and the early 12th century, there was a frenzy of pilgrim activity in Ireland. The Aran Islands very popular, due to the hardship required to get there in the first place – the pilgrims endured a suitable penance en route!
The islands have been long held as a source of inspiration for poets, painters and writers. The landscape and unique culture has attracted many famous artists and authors over the years, including J M Synge, who wrote his play “The Playboy of the Western World” while he lived on Inis Meain.