A Visit to Inis Mór (Part 1)

Last August, I had the opportunity to teach at a writing retreat and tour in Ireland with Ireland Writer Tours 

In addition to teaching writing courses, we visited many landmarks and historical sites, including the largest of the Aran Islands, Inis Mór (sometimes written “Inishmore”).

The trip to the island took about an hour by boat (at least, that’s what I’m told–I fell asleep almost the moment we left the dock and didn’t wake up until the boat arrived, much to the chagrin of the queasier members of the group). Here’s the view from the arrival dock:

16B21 Inis Mor from Dock

The large grey building is the Aran Sweater Market, home of lovely knit sweaters, scarves, and other items made from Aran Islands wool. (A couple of which went home with me that evening.)

16B21 Inis Mor Bar

After leaving the boat, we stopped for lunch at THE BAR–which is also a restaurant offering delicious homemade sandwiches, pizza, and salads–and then began an hour-long hike across the center of the island.

Geologically, Inis Mór is an extension of the burren, a karst landscape composed of heavily cracked limestone panels that create a unique ecosystem capable of supporting alpine, arctic, and mediterranean plants simultaneously. The weather is temperate in August, and the day we visited was clear and sunny–a beautiful day for a walk.

Much of Inis Mór has views of the ocean:

16B21 Inis Mor Sea View

Like much of Ireland, the fields on Inis Mór are divided by old, hand-stacked stone walls, some of which bear testament to the island’s former inhabitants:

16B21 Inis Mor

…while others house horses (more on this in next week’s installment…):

16B21 Inis Mor Horses

My parents (who also went on the tour) opted to ride a pony and trap to Dún Aenghusa, an ancient fort on the far side of the island. We met them on their way back, and stopped to swap experiences:

16B21 Mom on Inis Mor

When we reached the halfway point of the island, we realized that walking all the way to Dún Aenghusa would leave us without time to do anything else before our evening departure, so while most of the group continued on, a couple of us turned back toward the docks.

We arrived to find the pony and trap my mother hired sitting outside the sweater market, and when Padraig, the driver, offered to give us a one-hour tour of the opposite side of the island, including an ancient cemetery and some other historical sites, author Corinne O’Flynn and I jumped at the chance…

16B21 View from cart

…and off we went.

Have you visited the Aran Islands? If not, is it a place you’d like to go?

I hope you’ll stop by next Monday for the rest of our adventure on Inis Mór.