The Aran Islands are renowned for their wild landscapes, unique knitted sweaters, and lovely, thatched cottages. The Aran Islands on Ireland’s west coast are part of the Gaeltacht, which is the predominant vernacular of choice of Irish, which also adds to the charm of the islands. The three islands that make up the islands are Inis Oírr, Inis Meáin and Inis Mór.
Inis Oírr is the smallest of the three islands and closest to the Irish mainland. The island may be small, measuring only 2.5 miles long, but it punches above its weight in terms of things to see. The ruins of O’Brien’s Castle offer terrific views of the island and is a sight that is not to be missed. Heading toward the island’s southernmost point, there is a lighthouse. Unfortunately, you cannot enter the lighthouse, but the area does offer stunning views of the Cliffs of Moher.
Inis Meáin is the least-visited of all the Aran Islands so it is ideal for those who are seeking an atmosphere of splendour and solitude. The Aran Islands are home to the famous Aran sweaters. While on the islands, you can learn more about the history of Aran sweaters at the Inis Meáin Knitting Company. For those who do not know anything about the famous sweaters, there are some Aran sweaters online. Not to be missed is Teach Synge, which is a 300-year-old cottage-turned-museum. This gives a glimpse into life for the islanders over the past hundred years.
Inis Mór is the largest island of the three but only has a population of 800 people. Dún Aonghasa is a must-see when on Inis Mór. It is an ancient fort perched on the edge of a cliff and is arguably the biggest draw when one considers visiting the Aran Islands. For those who are particularly fond of archaeology and history, the sight should be of special interest as it shows human habitation from 1500 BC. Another scenic cliff-edge fort is the Black Fort. The name is derived from the dark colour of the limestone that is widespread along this section of Inis Mór. This hidden gem is more famous than Dún Aonghasa, partially down to it being less accessible. It offers spectacular views like Dún Aonghasa but with an added atmosphere of solitude.