Our last full day in Ireland. The only thing I still had left on my "to do" list was day trip to the Aran Islands. We finished our breakfast and made the 40 minute drive to the ferry dock. It was once again a beautiful morning and I can't believe we did not have any rain the entire trip.
One thing I noticed since arriving on the West coast of Ireland, is it's more common to hear Irish (Gaelic) spoken as the primary language. There are many towns where the street signs are only in Irish/Gaelic. The people who live on the Aran Islands teach Gaelic as the primary language and English as the secondary... this way their language will not be lost.
We decided to visit Inishmore which is the largest of the three Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are famous or their sweater making and knit goods (made of 100% wool). Generation after generation are taught this skill and each family has a unique stitching method. The sweaters are catagorized by family name.
Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands only has a population of 900 people. It was import to visit the Islands as I was facinated to see their way of life.
As soon as we got off the boat we were bombarded with tour guides wanting to know if we wanted a horse & carriage tour, or wanted to rent a bicycle. With Ty's neck we knew we wanted to take a bus tour of the island. We decided to go with the tour guide who had his own small mini-bus... as opposed to the bus tour company. He promised us a good tour (along with the other six passengers) and he was eager to please.
I have never seen so many rocks in my life as I saw on Inishmore.
In order to live and farm the people have spent centuries digging up rocks and clearing land. All the rocks were used to make, what else, walls! They lined the entire Island.
This Island had many ruins and old run down houses.
This is an old Thatch house - where the roofs are made of straw. We were fortunate to see this one still so well intact.
Here is a newer Thatch house which is currently occupied by a family. They are cozy houses but now rare, as it is much work to change the straw and rope every year.
This house, along the Island shore, was where the movie "Man of Aran" was made. The documentary movie was made in 1932 and the Islanders are very proud of it.
These little tiny houses where everywhere on the island. I thought they were adorable and assumed they were play houses. I was delighted to find out they were built for the Leprechauns!! Too funny.
The Aran Islands, like most of Ireland, is very religious. In Ireland we have seen statues of the Virgin Mary in the middle of roadside walls, statues of saints in town "centres" and churches everywhere. These monuments were on the island.
The island had many horses and some sheep. Here are some of the other animals we say as well:
These beautiful red flowers are all over the west coast. Ty took this beautiful picture:
The grass was so green and so incredibly soft and thick, that the wind left waves in it:
Our tour driver insisted on taking a picture of us. Here we are on the island of Inishmore
The beautiful ruins of an 8th Century church and monastery:
I had Ty stand by the doorway to give perspective on how short the people must have been!
Tomb stones are everywhere and becoming unearthed.
The tour guide dropped us off so we could make our way up to a prehistoric fort located (called Dún Aonghasa) at the top of a cliff. It was a twenty minute walk up a very steep, rocky hill.
Ty stops to pick (what else) but blackberries on the way.
The fort at the top of the hill.
The long, steep hike to the top.
Rocks jutting out of the ground, surround the fort.
Ty next to the fort wall. (built 2nd Century B.C. !!)
We think this is some type of fire place.
View of fort from the cliff.
Beautiful cliffs the fort sits on top of.
Unlike the Cliffs of Moher, we were able to crawl/walk to the edge of these cliffs and look over. Here is my view from the cliff edge.
Hopee at the Aran Island cliffs
We saw this bar as we were getting ready to leave, it cracked us up. The Statue of Liberty looks angry.
We took the boat back from the Aran Islands and arrived back in Galway around 6:30 pm. We decided to go have dinner at The King's Head, where we had the wonderful muscles a couple nights before. The muscles were, once again amazing!! I drank the last Guinness I am sure I will have, as I do not like Guinness in the States.
Ty and I are ready to go home... but there is a small part of me that never wants to leave the beauty of Ireland. We returned to the B&B for our final nights sleep.