Inis Oirr (Inisheer) is the smallest and greenest of the three
Aran Islands. We think it is one of the best places to see in Ireland. Why?
The locals are really friendly, it is easy to get
around, it has lovely beaches, has a great playground and is pretty safe for
children. In fact some people take the ferry over for the day just to bring
their kids to the playground!
The best way
to get to Inis Oirr is to take a boat from Doolin. There are
two or three ferry companies who go out from Doolin Pier, O'Brien Line is the biggest. At peak time in the summer, seven or
eight boats a day go to Inis Oirr.
You can fly either, with Aer Arann from Inverin in Connemara, if you
want to experience the scenery from above, but most visitors take the 30 minute
You can get to Inis Oirr from Rossaveal in Connemara with Aran Islands Ferry, but the trip is longer and may involve a stop over at the other islands, it is also more costly.
You can get
around the island in a variety of ways. For starters, you could walk. The island is very small, and
you could realistically access all places of interest on foot.
options, you will find mini buses,
and a bicycle hire place at the
On our last
visit we thought that by far the coolest way to get around the island was on a pony and trap. You will see them right at the pier and they give you a tour of the island which is a handy thing for a day trip. The kids loved it! The
memory of that trip will stay with them forever.
We had a friendly guide called
Ronan who told us all about the history of the
place. Ronan is from Inis Oirr. He talked about how lovely it was to grow in a
place as remote as Inis Oirr, having the freedom to go anywhere, anytime. Ronan
and his peers spent a lot of time fishing and doing other outdoor activities,
and they were constantly in and out of each others’ houses. The island is so
small that there was no need for lifts by parents. What a lovely way to grow up
has a castle, O’ Brien’s Castle, the
original residence of the rulers of the Aran Islands, the O’Briens of County
Clare. The castle is a 15th century build, a defended towerhouse,
and is located near the highest point of the island. On the same hill you will
find the pre-historic stone fort, Dún
One stop on
the island tour was the ship wreck of the Plassy, which got stranded here in 1960 in a bad storm when the ship steered too close to the rocks. All
twelve crew members were rescued eventually (although there were no proper
rescue services in those days) and all survived. But there was no way to move
the ship, so it remained in place. Today it is a tourist attraction that is starting to blend into the landscape.
there so many walls on Inis Oirr, we asked.
It really is striking, tiny green
fields surrounded by walls six or eight feet tall. One reason, we heard, was
that people only owned very small amounts of land out here. Traditionally,
people did not own the land, but were paying rent to absentee landlords. Then,
in 1922, they received land, but a lot of it has been split up again and again
through passing it on through the generations.
Another reason is the sheer
amount of rock out here. Where to put it all when you try to create some
pasture? If you don’t have access for machinery to remove it, the only way
there is is to stack it and to build walls. The taller the better.
tip of the island has a lighthouse which makes for a great destination for a
walk. On a fine day, you can enjoy amazing views of the Cliffs of Moher across
the Bay from here.
visiting the island, look out for Holy Wells, such as Saint Enda’s Well in the
West of the island. Holy Wells are said to have healing powers, so you might
take a bottle of water home with you... Send us an email and keep us posted as
to if and how it helped.
is the islands wells that have enabled humans to settle here in the first
place. The brackish water in Lough Mór is no good as drinking water. These
days, by the way, the islands produce drinking water by means of desalination
plants. Otherwise they could not cater for the needs of an expanding tourist
The island is
a lovely place to stay for a couple of nights or even longer, a place to chill
and get away from it all.
There are some great walks taking in the sites. There
is accommodation for every taste:
The island has a campsite, B&B’s (for
example the lovely ‘Radharc an Chláir’ 099-75019), the good quality ‘Bru’
hostel (099-75024), and even a hotel.
There are a couple of good quality restaurants all within walking distance, and
there is Irish Music most nights of the week in at least one of the two pubs or
at the Arts Centre (Áras Éanna).
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