Arran Islands off the west coast of Ireland

Wed, Mar 12th 2008, 00:00

The Arran Islands are a remote set of islands set out in Galway Bay on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland. This enchanted destination is lost in time.

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The Arran Islands are one of the last few places in Ireland where Gaeilge (traditional Irish) is still the first language. The islanders are fiercely proud of their Irish heritage and are passionate about keeping their traditional gaelic language and culture alive.

The Arran islanders have forged a life for themselves on these islands which are peaks of a submerged limestone reef which runs out from the mainland of Ireland into Galway Bay. The barren limestone landscape was inhospitable for supporting humans, and the islanders’ ancestors had to painstakingly prepare the land by mixing layers of sand and seaweed on top of the rocks to make fertile soil for growing potatoes and provide grazing for cattle and sheep.

The islands are a network fields surrounded by miles of dry stone walls, the efforts of these resourceful islanders. They managed to adapt to the harsh conditions to become completely self-sufficient.

These days, most locals are either employed in the fishing or tourist industry. Ferries arrive from the mainland bringing many visitors eager to enjoy the islands’ remote charms.

This is a place of rugged beauty, tall cliffs looking over the turbulent Atlantic ocean and miles of unspoiled countryside. The Arran Island group consist of 3 islands, Inis Mór (meaning “big island” is the main island, 12 kilometres in length and 3 kilometres wide. The smaller islands are Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr.

The Arran islands have an ancient history. The most fascinating remnants of this are to be found at Dún Aonghasa high on the cliffs in the south of Inis Mór. This hill fort features beautiful swirling stone walls that have provided evidence of human activity from two and a half thousand years ago.

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