Aran Islands

The Aran Islands ( Irish : Oileáin Árann -pronunciation: [əlʲɑːnʲ ɑːɾən] ) or The Arans ( na hárainneacha – [nə hɑːɾənʲəxə] ) are a group of three islands located on the mouth of Galway Bay , on the west coast of Ireland , with total area of ​​about 46 square kilometers. They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway , Ireland.

From west to east the islands are: Inishmore ( rainnʲ woːɾ) or ɪnnmh ( Inner Mór) [1] – the largest; Inishmaan ( Inis Mein / Inis Meadhin – [ɪnʲɪʃ mʲɑːnʲ] ), the second-largest; and Inisheer ( Inis Thiar / Inis Oírr / Inis Oirthir – [ɪnʲɪʃ hiəɾ / iːɾʲ / ɛɾʲhɪɾʲ] ), the smallest.

The 1,200 inhabitants primarily speak Irish , the language used in local placenames. All islanders are fluent in English . The islands belong to the Gaeltacht .

Location and access

The approaches to the bay between the Aran Islands and the mainland are as follows:

  • North Sound / An Súnda ó Thuaidh (more precisely Bealach Locha Lurgan ) lies between Inishmore and Lettermullen, County Galway.
  • Gregory’s Sound / Súnda Ghríoghóra (formerly known as Bealach na h-Áite ) lies between Inishmore and Inishmaan.
  • Foul Sound / An Súnda Salach (formerly known as Bealach na Fearbhaighe ) lies between Inishmaan and Inisheer.
  • South Sound / An Súnda ó Dheas (formerly known as Bealach na Fínnise ) lies between Inisheer and County Clare.
  • Ferries operate to all three islands from Rossaveal in Co. Galway (year round) and Doolin in Co. Clare (seasonal). Flights operated by Aer Arann Islands also operate from Inverin .


The islands’ geology is mainly karst limestone, related to the Burren in County Clare (to the east), not the granites of Connemara to the north. This is most obvious in the construction of the walls around the fields.

The limestones date from the Viséan age of the Lower Carboniferous ), formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago, and compressed into horizontal strata with fossil corals , crinoids , sea ​​urchins , and ammonites . Glaciation following the Namurian facilitated greater denudation. The result is that the Aran Islands are one of the finest examples of a Glacio- Karst landscape in the world. The effects of the last glacial period(the Midlandian) are most in evidence, with the islands overrun by ice during this glaciation. The impact of earlier karstification (solution erosion) has been eliminated by the last glacial period . Any karstification now seen dates from approximately 11,000 years ago and the island karst is thus recent.

Solutional processes have widened and deepened the grykes of the limestone pavement . Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of subterranean drainage.

Huge boulders up to 25 meters (80 ft) above the sea at parts of the west facing cliffs are in Some boxes year extreme form of storm beach , cast there by giant waves That Occur moyenne ounce per century, though more are glacial erratics . [2]

Climate and agriculture

The islands have an unusually temperate climate. Average air temperatures range from 15 ° C (59 ° F) in July to 6 ° C (43 ° F) in January. The ground temperature does not usually drop below 6 ° C (43 ° F) (the winter of 2010 recorded a prolonged period of snow, the first in living memory). Since grass will grow once the temperature rises Above 6 ° C (43 ° F), This Means que le island (like the Neighboring Burren ) HAS one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland or Britain, citation needed ] and various supports and Rich plant growth. Late May is the sunniest time [3] and also the best time to view flowers, with the gentians and avens peaking (but orchid species blooming later).


Historical population
year Pop. ±%
1841 3,521
1851 3,333 -5.3%
1861 3,291 -1.3%
1871 3,038 -7.7%
1881 3,148 + 3.6%
1891 2,890 -8.2%
1901 2,845 -1.6%
1911 2,668 -6.2%
year Pop. ±%
1926 2,152 -19.3%
1936 2,106 -2.1%
1946 1,968 -6.6%
1951 1,765 -10.3%
1956 1,678 -4.9%
1961 1,648 -1.8%
1966 1,612 -2.2%
1971 1,496 -7.2%
year Pop. ±%
1979 1,377 -8.0%
nineteen eighty one 1,368 -0.7%
1986 1,339 -2.1%
1991 1,322 -1.3%
1996 1,303 -1.4%
2002 1,280 -1.8%
2006 1,225 -4.3%
Source: Central Statistics Office. “CNA17: Population by Shore Island Off, Sex and Year” . . Retrieved October 12, 2016 .

Flora and fauna

The islands supports arctic , Mediterranean and alpine side-by-side plants, due to the unusual environment. Like the Burren, the Aran Islands are renowned for their remarkable assemblage of plants and animals. [4]

The grikes provide moist shelter, thus supporting a wide range of plants including dwarf shrubs. Where the surface of the pavement is shattered into gravel, many of the hardier arctic gold or alpine plants can be found. But when the limestone pavement is covered by a thin layer of soil, patches of grass are seen, interspersed with plants like the gentian and orchids.

Notable insects present include the butterfly pearl-bordered fritillary ( Boloria euphrosyne ), brown hairstreak ( Thecla betulae ), marsh fritillary ( Euphydryas aurinia ) and white wood ( Leptidea sinapis ); the moths, the burren green ( Calamia tridens ), the Irish annulet ( Odontognophos dumetata ) and the transparent burnet ( Zygaena purpuralis ); and the hoverfly Doros profuges .

Traditional life and Irish language

On the cliff tops, ancient forts such as Dún Aonghasa (Dún Aengus) on Inishmór and Dún Chonchúir (Fort of Conchobar ) on Inishmaan are some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland. A lacework of ancient stone walls across all three islands (1,600 km or 1,000 mi in all) encloses networks of small fields to contain local livestock. Also found are early clocháns (dry-stone beehive huts from the early-Christian period). Enda of Aran founded the first true Irish monastery near Killeany (Cill Éinne or Church of Enda). In time there were dozen monasteries on Inishmór alone. Many Irish saints had some connection with Aran: St. Brendan was blessed for his journey there; Jarlath of Tuam,Finnian of Clonard , and St. Columba called “The Sun of the West”. In total, there are 38 national monuments on the Aran Islands.

The islands were first populated in larger numbers probably at the time of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the mid-17th century, when the Catholic population of Ireland had the choice of “to hell or to Connacht “. Many countries where they adapt themselves to the climatic conditions, developing a survival system of total self-sufficiency. Their methods included mixing layers of sand and seaweed on the world of fertile soil, a technique used to grow potatoes and other vegetables. [5] The same seaweed method also provided for grazing grass within the stone-wall enclosures for cattle and sheep, which in turn is provided to make handwoven trousers, skirts and jackets, hand-knittedsweaters , shawls , caps, and hide shoes. The islanders also built unique boats for fishing, building their homes and cottages.

The Aran Islands are an official Gaeltacht , which gives full official status to the Irish. An unusually high rate of Irish-language monolingualism was found among senior natives until the end of the 20th century, in large part because of the isolating nature of the traditional trades practice and the natural isolation of the islands in mainland Ireland over the race of the Islands’ history. Young Islanders can take their leave examination at the top of the page citation needed ] . Many blame the decline of Irish-speaking among young members of the island community on English-language television, available since the 1960s; more, many younger islanders leave when they come of age.


Year-round ferry passenger services exist. Aran Island Ferries [6] operate a year-round service from Rossaveal in County Galway , connected by a bus service from Galway City . A heavy cargo service operates several times a week from Galway Harbor , and is operated by Lasta Mara. [7]

Aer Arann Islands operated an air services from all three islands to Inverin qui HAS connecting nozzles from Galway city up to 2015. See Inishmore Airport .

Ferries are also available at the Aran Islands from Doolin in Clare County (Seasonal 1 April – 31 October).

A road network exists on a 50 kilometer per hour (31 miles per hour) applies. Cars on the islands are free from road-worthiness testing. Most visitors to the island hire bikes are the most convenient way to see the islands. [8]


Visitors and attractions

Visitors come in large numbers, particularly in the summer time. There are several Bronze Age and Iron Age forts and attractions on the islands:

  • Dun Aengus ( Dún Aonghasa , Aran Islands Dialect : dūn aŋgəs ) is a Bronze Age and Iron Age fort located on the edge of a cliff at a height of 100 meters (330 ft) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on Inishmore . It consists of a series of concentric circular walls, the innermost-the citadel-encloses an area of ​​approximately 50 meters (160 feet) in diameter with 4-meter (13-foot) thick walls of stone. [9]
  • Black Fort ( Dún Dúchathair )
  • O’Brien’s Castle on Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands was built in the 14th century. The castle was taken from the O’Briens by the O’Flaherty clan of Connemara in 1582.
  • Teampull Bheanáin is regarded The Smallest church in the world citation needed ] and notable is for icts orientation: north-south INSTEAD of east-west.
  • Teampall an Cheathrair Álainn has a holy well which inspired JM Synge’s play The Well of the Saints .


Local artists

One of the major figures of the Irish Renaissance , Liam O’Flaherty , was born in Gort na Gapal , Inishmore , on 28 August 1896. Máirtín Ó Díreáin , one of the most eminent poets in the Irish language , was also from Inishmore . Since the year 2000, Áras Éanna Arts Center, Inisheer has been welcoming Artists in Residence both local and international to stay and work on the inspirational Aran Islands for periods of one month.

Visiting artists

The islands have had an influence on world literature and arts disproportionate to their size. The unusual cultural and physical history of the islands has made them known to the world of writers and travelers. Beginning around the late 19th century, many Irish writers traveled to the Aran Islands; Lady Gregory , for example, came to Aran in the late nineteenth century to learn Irish . At the beginning of the 20th century and all over the world one of Ireland’s leading artists, Seán Keating , translated by View the original text in French Elizabeth Riversmoved from London and lived in Aran where Basil Rakoczi .

Many wrote about their experiences in a personal vein, alternately casting them as narratives about finding, or failing to find, some essential aspect of Irish culture that had been lost to the more urban regions of Ireland. A second, related to the collection of stories and folklore of the island, treating it as a kind of societal ” time capsule ” of an earlier stage of Irish culture. Visitors of this kind differed in their desires to integrate with the island culture, and were more likely to be considered observers. The culmination of this fashion of interacting with the island might be Robert J. Flaherty’s 1934 classic documentary Man of Aran .

One might consider John Millington Synge ‘s The Aran Islands as a work of the first two modes, it is both a personal and an attempt at preserving information about the pre- (or a-) literate Aran culture in literary form. The motivations of these visitors are exemplified by WB Yeats ‘ advice to Synge: “Go to the Aran Islands, and find a life that has never been expressed in literature.” [10]

In the second half of the twentieth century, up until perhaps the early 1970s, one sees a third kind of visitor to the islands. These visitors are not necessarily of the uniquely “Irish” nature of the island community, but simply because of the accidents of geography and history of production. At no time has Was There single “Aran” Culture: any description is incomplete and Necessarily Can Be Said to apply only to completely Call parts of the island at some point in time. However, visitors who have been interested in such aspects of Aran culture such as

  1. Isolated from mainstream print and electronic media, and thus linking primarily to local oral tradition for both entertainment and news.
  2. Rarely visited or understood by outsiders.
  3. Strongly influenced in its traditions and attitudes by the unusually savage weather of Galway Bay .
  4. In many parts subsistence , or near-subsistence, farming and fishing.
  5. Adapted to the absence of luxuries that many parts of the Western world had enjoyed for centuries.

For these reasons, the Aran Islands have been “decoupled” from cultural developments that have been at the same time as Ireland and Western Europe. These visitors were particularly intimately connected to that of Ireland, but they were not particularly inclined to interpret their experience as that of “Irishness”. Instead, they are looking at their lives on the world, and they often take pains to live “as an islander”, eschewing help from friends and family at home. Indeed, because of the difficult conditions they found-dangerous weather, scarce food-they sometimes had a little time to investigate.

This third mode of being in Aran died in the late 1970s due in part to the increased tourist traffic and in part to making improvements to the island, which relegated the above aspects to history. A Aran Keening , [11] by Andrew McNeillie, who spent a year on Aran in 1968. Another, Pádraig Ó Síocháin , in Dublin author and lawyer, Gaelic to the fluency of An islander has become inextricably linked to the Aran handknitters and their Aran Sweaters , extensively promoting their popularity and selling around the world for nearly forty years.

A fourth kind of visitor to the islands, still prominent today, comes for spiritual reasons often connected to an appreciation for Celtic Christianity or more modern New Age beliefs, the formation of which finds sites and landscapes of importance on the islands. Finally, there are Many Thousands of visitors come for Who Broadly touristic Reasons: to see the ruins, hear Irish spoken in the few pubs on the island, and to experience the often awe-inspiring geology of cliffs. Tourists today far outnumber of visitors. Tourists and visitors of the fourth kind, however, are under-represented as creators of literature or art directly connected to the island; There are few ordinary “travelogues” of note, perhaps because of the small size of the islands, and there are no personal accounts written about Aran that are primarily concerned with spirituality. Tim Robinson’s Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (1986) and Stones of Aran: Labyrinth(1995), and its accompanying map of the islands, are another resource on the Aran Islands. Robinson’s work is an exhaustive, but not exhausting, survey of the Aran geography and its influence on Aran culture from the Iron Age up to recent times. Robinson also has written, and continues to write, about the Connemara region that faces the Aran Islands on the Galway mainland.

Island crafts

Aran Island sweater

Main article: Aran sweater

The islands are the home of the Aran sweater , which won worldwide appeal during the 20th century. [12]

Many of the sweaters sold in the islands are made elsewhere in Ireland. [13]

Aran currach

The (modern) Aran version of the lightweight boat called the currach ( Aran Islands Dialect : kørəx, korəx ) is made from canvas stretched over a sparse skeleton of thin laths, then covered in tar . It is designed to withstand the very rough seas that are typical of Atlantic . Indeed, it is said that the Aran fishermen would not learn to swim, since they would certainly not survive anytime soon and it would be better to drown quickly. Despite the undoubted strength of these boats, they are very vulnerable to puncture.

The islanders were always totally self-sufficient. In calmer weather the currachs would go out and spend the night fishing under the Cliffs of Moher , returning after dawn full with fish. Nowadays they are only used inshore, tending lobster-pots. More modern versions are still built for racing at the many local regattas , or “Cruinnithe” up and down the west coast of Ireland during the summer months.

Conventional shoes can not be worn, so the fishermen wear soft calf-skin moccasins called pampooties , made of goatskin or cowskin.


Some of the limestone sea cliffs have attracted interest from rock-climbers . quote needed ]

GAA sports such as Gaelic Football , hurling and Irish Handball are the islands’ main sports.

The annual Red Bull cliff diving world championships are held on Inis mór ever year.

In popular culture

  • John Millington Synge (JM Synge) wrote a book-length journal, The Aran Islands , completed in 1901 and published in 1907.
  • The Aran Islands are mentioned in James Joyce’s short story ” The Dead ” (1914) as a place where native Irish is spoken.
  • The 1934 documentary film Man of Aran .
  • Gilbert Bécaud’s 2-act opera The Aran Opera (1962) features a plot taking place on the Aran Islands.
  • Seamus Heaney’s first book of poems, Death of a Naturalist (1966), contains a poem entitled “Lovers on Aran”.
  • The 1984 hit song ” The Riddle ” by Nik Kershaw includes the line, “Near a tree by a river there’s a hole in the ground where an old man of Aran goes around and around.” The writer, however, is on record as having said that he simply made this up; it does not actually relate to anything connected with the Aran Islands.
  • The Aran Islands featured in the television comedy Father Ted from 1995 to 1998, set on the fictional Craggy Island , with real local sights such as the shipwreck of the steam trawler Plassey in the opening sequence. The island of Inishmore hosted a Friends of Ted festival in 2007.
  • The 1996 play, The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh , is set on the Aran Islands. The play is the first in The Aran Islands Trilogy, followed in 2001 by The Lieutenant of Inishmore , and the unpublished The Banshees of Inisheer .
  • The 1997 romantic comedy The MatchMaker with Janeane Garofalo is partially set on the Aran Islands.
  • The 2000 song “El Pozo de Aran” by Spanish Celtic musician Carlos Núñez , with lead vocals by Portuguese singer Anabela , is about a mother’s pilgrimage to a holy well in the islands to heal her sickly child.
  • The songs from the album ” Man of Aran ” by the British Sea Power group all relate to the Aran Islands.
  • In Talking Tom and Friends Pilot, Talking Hank mentions a show set in the Aran Islands. [14]

See also

  • Inis Beag : In fictional name for Inis Oírr
  • Tim Robinson (cartographer)


  1. Jump up^ The official Irish name for the island is wide Árainn HOWEVER, the BritishOrdnance Survey, When surveying the landscape of West Ireland, invented the name for the Largest Inishmore island probably to Avoid confusion withAran Islandin County Donegal. Inis Mórthe commonGaelicisedform of this new name
  2. Jump up^ Brown, Paul (18 August 2004). “Britain being battered by waves hurling giant rocks” . The Guardian . London.
  3. Jump up^ Éireann, Met. “Met Éireann – The Irish Weather Service” . .
  4. Jump up^ Webb, DA (1961-1963). “Noteworthy Plants of the Burren: A Catalog Raisonné”. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section B: Biological, Geological, and Chemical Science . Royal Irish Academy . 62 : 117-34. ISSN  0035-8983 . JSTOR  20494847 – via JSTOR . (Registration required ( help )) .
  5. Jump up^ Borgese, Elisabeth Mann. Seafarm: the story of aquaculture. New York: Harry N. Adams, Inc., p. 105.
  6. Jump up^ “Aran Island Ferries” . .
  7. Jump up^ “Home” . .
  8. Jump up^
  9. Jump up^ “Inis Mor Bike Hire – Aran Islands Bike Hire -” . .
  10. Jump up^ John Millington Synge (1906). The Aran Islands. [Sl]: Maunsel & Roberts.
  11. Jump up^
  12. Jump up^ A Journey Into Ireland ‘s Literary Revival by R. Todd Felton, page 54
  13. Jump up^ Morris, Johnny (18 March 2006). “Grail Trail” . London: The Telegraph . Retrieved 24 February 2007 . .
  14. Jump up^ Talking Tom and Friends (23 December 2014). “Talking Tom and Friends – The Audition (episode 0)” . Youtube . Retrieved 5 October 2017 .

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