The Aran Islands and Last Day in Galway

May 7

We had heard great things about the Aran Islands—a group of islands off just a bit northwest from the Cliffs of Moher and south, southwest from Galway—so that had been on our list of things to do while in Ireland. Matt and Kelley hadn’t been there yet so we all decided to catch the ferry to Inishmore (the largest island) on Sunday. Unfortunately, Moabi had to get back to Dublin to do some work so he wasn’t able to join us for that outing. 😞

The four of us headed out to the ferry on Sunday morning and got to Inishmore before lunchtime. There’s only one ferry to and from the island each day, so we spent about half the day on the island. As we arrived at the island the air was thick with peat smoke because it was a brisk morning. It’s amazing that most of the homes here are still heated with peat—you can smell it all over the countryside, and a lot of houses have little external sheds full of peat logs; we’ve even seen it being harvested and dried.

Photo courtesy of Matt & Kelley Davis!

We rented bikes and ended up riding almost the whole perimeter of the island. And we had another sunny and beautiful day so we got quite warm with all of the biking. The land was really rugged and beautiful, very rocky with grass popping up between the cracks. The island is covered in rock fences which form a misshapen grid across the landscape, a very cool effect. It’s incredible to think about all the work and masonry that went into every fence, and that there are so many is crazy. The stone fences on the island are made without any mortar—just rocks of differing sizes placed strategically on top of each other—and it’s impossible to tell if they were built recently or hundreds of years ago.

People do live on the island so there are houses mixed in with the stones and the rocks. There are also the ruins of many crumbling stone houses mixed with contemporary homes throughout the island, which provides a very cool juxtaposition.

We got to explore a couple of ancient ring forts that are on the island which were very cool! (These were the first that Martin and I had seen, but it turns out that there are many more all over Ireland.) The first one we kind of stumbled upon as there were no signs; we had it all to ourselves and we ended up walking all over it which was pretty awesome.

We stopped for lunch overlooking a beach. I was totally unprepared for how blue and clear the ocean is here! It almost looks tropical and contrasts incredibly with the green hills and the grey rocks.

The next ring fort that we saw was much larger (and well-signed). It’s called Dún Aonghasa and it is perched right on the edge of a 100-meter cliff. Dún Aonghasa consists of a larger outer fort and then another one nestled inside. The views off the edge of the cliff (no fences between the edge and the long drop into the ocean!) were spectacular, and we could see the Cliffs of Moher back on the mainland. We even witnessed a proposal! We happened to turn around just after a couple from Brooklyn got engaged. Matt and Kelley had their fancy cameras with them and offered to take some nice pictures of the couple who were super excited. It was very sweet and we all left the cliff with smiles on our faces.

We rode our bikes a little bit more around the island to see the Worm Hole: a large, naturally-formed rectangular pool in the rocks on the coast. It was very cool! It’s almost perfectly rectangular but it was just the way that the rock fractured, and then it is filled from below by the tide.

Photo courtesy of Matt & Kelley Davis!

We had a bit of an off-roading adventure with our bikes to get back to the ferry, as the road we picked was unpaved and quite rocky. But we all made it down okay and our reward was ice cream. 😋 (Apparently Irish people love ice cream! Ice cream is sold everywhere and people are always eating it even when it is cold outside.)

Photo courtesy of Matt & Kelley Davis!

May 8

On our last day in Galway, Matt and Kelley had to work so Martin and I hung around their apartment with Franklin, their cat. We got some stuff done at the apartment and then did some work from a cafe in town.

After getting some work done, the two of us went on a walk around Galway to see more of the city. It is a very cool town with a university, a beautiful ocean-front promenade, and lots of great old buildings. We found a lovely cheesemonger and got to try some local raw milk cheeses, which were delicious, and then walked out along a pier to get a view of the city from a different angle.

We took Matt and Kelley (Franklin had to stay home) out for a thank-you dinner for their wonderful hospitality. And that concluded our time in Galway!

We had a great time with the Davis family and hopefully we will meet up with them again at some point along our travels. You can see more of what they are up to at their blog.

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