No palm trees or umbrella drinks on this island

Kilronan Travel Blog

 › entry 55 of 113 › view all entries
The sky opened up the morning I left for the Aran Islands and did its best to wash away the earth until well into the evening. Heavy rain and winds made for an interesting ferry ride across the Atlantic and all the people regurgitating their breakfasts around me would have to agree. The crew members worked quickly to distribute plastic bags to every passenger with a shaky hand in the air and eyes in the back of their head. It wasn't pretty. I escaped with the entirety of my morning meal digesting properly in my stomach, but give me 20 more minutes on that heaving vessel and I would have been reaching for a plastic bag to do a little "shopping" with the rest of them.

I originally contacted my host Glen--the manager of the Manaster House Hostel-- with the hope of getting work. They were, unfortunately, fully-staffed at the moment, but he offered his couch as a consolation prize and I accepted.
on top of the island


45 minutes west of the Irish coast lie the three islands that make up the Aran Islands: Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr. Inis Mór, the largest of the three and where I stayed, is about 9 miles long and 2 miles wide. The main (and, I believe, only) town of Kilronan, with its market and scattering of a couple pubs and cafes lies at the port, on the base of the hill. The rest of the island is composed mainly of fields and barren limestone rock, with the 800 Irish speaking residents sprinkled throughout. Since the only public transportation circulating the island are tour vans and horse-drawn carriages, I really had no choice but to hike the rainy 3 kilometers uphill to the hostel.

I arrived soaked and slightly out of breath, but happy nonetheless.
When Glen started with the wisecracks and banter only moments after I turned up, I knew I picked the right host. I didn't expect anything less from a Kiwi living in Ireland. I think there's a rule that that cultural combination guarantees a good laugh and a personality that can't be bothered to be bothered.

I spent three days in total on the island. It poured the majority of the first day and poured even harder on the third, leaving one perfectly blue day sandwiched in the middle. I borrowed Glen's bike and roamed when the weather was good. I followed his advice and rode up to Dun Aonghas--a well-preserved Celtic fort and the island's most famous attraction--early enough to beat the horde of day-tripping tourists. There was even a fleeting moment on that cliff, after the strays and before the tour buses, that I actually had the fort to myself.
the black fort


It wasn't until after I rode the 3 miles up the hill, that I discovered the fort has an entrance fee. Without a single penny on my unsuspecting person, I had to be resourceful. A sprawling group of french 50-somethings filled the entrance way and became my smokescreen. I put on a confident face and sashayed right in as one of them. A little "oui" here and "merci" there, and no one suspected a thing.

From the cliffs of Dun Aonghas, I continued riding the island loop. Past the beaches and seal colony (that, for all I could tell from the distance of the viewing station, was filled with nothing more than brown, lifeless rocks). Past the occasional grazing horse and the infinite stone-walled fields in every shade of green, and eventually back to the hostel after a stop-off at the island's sole market for dinner supplies.


At night I turned down the pub invitations in favor of lazier movie nights with my under-the-weather host. A traveling social life (as you may have noticed in photos) revolves so highly around meeting at the pub. I needed a break and came to the Aran Islands with nothing but my grunge clothes and intentions of playing outside by day, and relaxing inside in the evening. So that's what I guiltlessly did.

My ferry ride back to Galway was a lamb in comparison to the first, despite the insistent rainfall. My stomach and I were equally relieved by the calm water and ready, I suppose, to get back to reality.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
on top of the island
on top of the island
the black fort
the black fort
my host glen
my host glen
not my picture, but dun aonghas fr…
not my picture, but dun aonghas f…
dun aonghas
dun aonghas
its a long way down
it's a long way down
Kilronan
photo by: maithanfear