Inishmore, Aran Islands: One of the highlights of our trip to Ireland in 2012. Friendly locals, peace and quiet, and some amazing ancient ruins.
Inishmore in the Aran Islands was one of the very last places we visited on our trip to Ireland in May 2012. It was cut short to one day due to a horrible stomach virus Paddy got while we were in Galway, which was unfortunate because it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. When we make it back to Ireland, spending more time in the Aran Islands will be a priority. The natural beauty and remote lifestyle of the islands is a piece of Irish culture not to be missed, and is also host to some amazing ancient ruins.
To get to Inishmore, we took a bus from Galway to the Aran Islands ferry in Rossaveal, about an hour away. This was all included in our ticket that we purchased at the Galway ticket office. The weather had really begun to get warm for May, and we didn’t even need our sweatshirts anymore.
The ferry was supposed to be a straight through to Inishmore, the largest and most popular of the Aran Islands. The ferry to the other islands broke down, however, and we ended up making a longer sailing to stop at the rest of the islands. If we ever go back to Ireland, I think that spending more time on all of the Aran Islands will be a top priority. We only got a small taste on this trip, and they were beautiful.
The ferry was crowded full of daytrippers looking to come for the day and rent bicycles (no cars are allowed on the islands except those owned by locals). After arriving at Inishmore, we crossed the street from the ferry to a little cafe called The Pierhouse for lunch and let the crowds pass by. It was a gorgeous day and nice enough to sit outside in the sun.
After lunch, we went to find a shuttle to our B&B, the Kilmurvey House. We started walking over to where we saw the shuttle vans parked, and one pulled up next to us and asked if we neede a ride. We hopped in and for a few Euros we were driven to our destination in about 10 minutes.
When we arrived, our hostTreasa greeted us and told us that our room wasn’t quite ready yet, but would be in just a few minutes. We sat in the nice front parlor and waited. When we checked in, we were suprised with how large the room was. It was a beautiful, sunny room with hardwood floors and a huge king sized bed. The bathroom had a bathtub with jacuzzi jets and it felt like we had scored the honeymoon suite.
Below: front of Kilmurvey House
Below: our room
The Kilmurvey House was beautifully decorated in a very classic Irish B&B style. There were two front parlor living areas for guests, and a kitchen in the back for meals–breakfast is included, and I read that if you request ahead they will make dinner for you as well for a fee. The surrounding area is rural farmland, but there is a snack shop open during the day nearby.
One of the best things about the Kilmurvey House is that it is right next to the biggest attraction on the island, Dun Aengus. Dun Aengus is the remains of a prehistoric ring fort dating back to the Iron Age. It was starting to get really warm, so we changed into some lighter clothes (I was glad I got to go shopping in Galway, I hadn’t packed any tank tops, just as I hadn’t packed a scarf or hat) and walked over the Dun Aengus entrance.
It was about 3:30 and the parking lot was chocked full of bicycles of daytrippers. Dun Aengus is open until 6:00 PM, and we knew that the last ferry off the island was at 5:00, so we decided to come back in an hour. In the meantime, we took a walk down the road in the opposite direction. It was beautiful. We really wished we had another day to see the whole island.
The Aran Islands are also known for their knitting and textile skills, particularly for their beautiful sweaters. If you can afford it, the sweaters here are beautiful and skillfully crafted. There was a sweater store and another souvenir store next to the B&B, and I splurged on a hooded sweater for $100.00. There is also a cafe and a snack shop available next to the B&B as well.
We headed back to Dun Aengus at around 4:45 and there was only one bicycle in the parking lot. Everyone else had left to catch the last ferry. To our delight we had the entire ruins to ourselves. It was magical.
The pathway up to Dun Aengus is a bit of a hike, but unless you have a disability or difficulty walking, it’s not too bad. I was a little huffy puffy towards the top, but it wasn’t anything crazy. Just wear good shoes and be prepared for a little bit of a hilly hike.
One of the nice things about Ireland as opposed to the USA, is that they don’t have a bunch of fences destroying the natural beauty of the ruins and the landscape. If you fall of the cliff, that’s your fault, not theirs. Don’t get too close to the edge.
After a gorgeous hike up Dun Aengus, we headed back to our room to relax and refresh for dinner.
All the dinner restaurants are in town, but Treasa arranges a complimentary shuttle into town and back for guests for dinner. She drove us and another American couple to Joe Watty’s Bar for dinner. The four of us ate together and talked about past trips and our shared love of camping. The food was excellent. Note that the prices are a little higher in the Aran Islands, which is common for most islands in the world as food and other items have to be imported from the mainland.
Treasa picked us up at 9:00 PM after dinner, and we caught a gorgeous sunset on the way home. It just went behind the hill when we got out of the car, but I snapped a couple photos anyway.
The next morning, we had a fabulous breakfast provided by our hosts at the Kilmurvey House, and then were driven back to the ferry and bid adieu. We were sad to have to leave Inishmore so soon, and made a solid promise to return someday with more time. We really want to see the other Aran Islands as well, and get off of the beaten tourist path a bit more. We strongly recommend making Inishmore and the Aran Islands a priority on your trip to Ireland.
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