No palm trees or umbrella drinks on this island
Kilronan Travel Blog› entry 55 of 113 › view all entries
August 13th, 2008 – by: afredrix
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.
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.
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.
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.
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