Inis Mór - (meaning big island) as its name suggests is the biggest of the 3 Aran Islands. Lying in a North - Westerly direction across Galway Bay Inis Mór is approximately 12km in length and 3km in width. Its principle port and village is Kilronan ( Cill Rónáin ) and it is here that most visitors are first introduced to the island. Kilronan has seen a lot of development in the past 10 years and is a lively village with many of todays' modern conveniences, comfortably co-existing with traditional practices and culture.
The sailing time to Inis Mór is 40 minutes.
Traditional music is still popular on the island and visitors are often likely to walk in on impromptu music sessions in the local pubs.
Despite all the hardships they have endured over the years, the Aran Islands have stubbornly retained their strong, unique culture and way of life. This culture and the way of life has been a major source of inspiration for world famous writers, film-makers, and artists throughout the years, These include John Millington Synge, Robert Faherty and local man Máirtin ó Direáin to name but a few.
The Heritage Centre (Ionad árann) chronicles the difficult existence of the island population as they etched out a living on small farms of barren limestone, or in the dangerous waters of the Atlantic and you can also find extensive evidence of this on the many stone plaques visible around the island, erected in memory of those who lost their lives at sea. There are samples of the Hooker Boats that Aran and Galway are famous for and the Currach (row boats) that were used for all the islanders needs.
'The Man Of Aran' by Robert Faherty. The Man of Aran is a 1930's film recorded over a two year period that captures the essence of Aran and the everyday struggles of Islanders to etch out a living in a harsh environment battling with the elements.
Gaeilge (Irish) is the first language of the islands population; but all are bi-lingual. Inis Mór is one of the last strong - holds for the Irish language and each year hundreds of students (Gaelgoirí) travel to the Irish schools on the Island to help improve their standard of Irish. During the Cromwellian occupation in the 17th - 19th Century, Irish was forbidden and English was the official language. Despite the threat of persecution Islanders continued to speak Irish in private and the language survived. The Islanders are very proud of their language and it is spoken just as much among the younger population.
There are three modes of transport available to visitors whilst on the island and these can all be picked up at the pier in Kilronan.
- Bicycle hire ~ is the most popular form of transport, there are over a thousand bikes available for hire at the pier in Kilronan allowing visitors to travel the island at their own pace.
- Mini Bus Tour ~ There are a number of companies offering mini-bus tours of the island, all tour guides are native to the Island, are well informed on the islands' history and statistics and have a good sense of humour. The mini bus tours are about two and a half to three hours long, with about an hour allowed at Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus). These mini-buses double as taxis in the evenings.
- Pony and Trap ~ The traditional means of transport of the Islanders' is still available to visitors and you can choose from one of the many pony and carts available at the pier.
Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) (lit meaning Fort of Aongus) is a spectacular stone fort sited on the highest point of the cliffs (300ft) on the southern coastline; it offers an unrestricted view down along the west coast of Ireland. Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) is considered one of the most important pre-historic sites in Western Europe; it became a national monument at the end of the 19th Century and is conserved by the Heritage Services. Recent excavation found evidence of human activity dating back over two and a half thousand years. Covering an area of 14 acres, the interior of the hill fort is divided into an outer, middle and inner enclosure by three curved walls terminating at the cliff face.
Outside the middle enclosure the fort was fortified with a large broad band of closely set pillars (chevaux de fries).
Na Seacht dTeampaíll (The Seven churches) This name is applied to the ruins of two small churches and some domestic buildings. This ancient monastic site was founded by St Breacán and is the finest example of monastic settlement on Inis Mór.
The Island was an extremely important place of pilgrim in ancient times and the presence of parts of three impressive Celtic high crosses from the 12th Century on this site give an indication of its importance. Unfortunately this cross was broken by Cromwellian soldiers in the 17th Century and then used to make repairs to a castle they were occupying; the remains of the other two crosses lie in the church at Teaghlach Einne.
Teaghlach Einne (lit translation, house of St Enda) is a little church, half buried in sand in Cill Einne (Killeany) graveyard on the south-east end of the Island. The graveyard is at least 1500 years old and is still in use as the main burial ground of the Island. It contains the grave of St. Enda who dies around 535 A.D. and is the patron saint of Inis Mór.
The Round Tower was originally about 35 metres high and dates back to the 9th Century. It was damaged during Cromwellian times and later by lighting and presently only stands at 4 metres.
Clochán na Carraige: A clochán is a stone-roofed bee-hive hut. Though many exist on the Island the one at Struthán, near Kilmurvey, is the best preserved example. Hermit monks, as a form of punishment and self-denial, occupied these huts in isolation from the rest of the party.
Dún Dúchathair (the black Fort). One and a half miles west of Kileanney via the cliffs lies the only other fort on the island. Originally it was probably the biggest fort on the island, though now it is smaller than the one at Dún Aonghus.
Inis Mór has some fabulous safe, clean beaches. Kilmurvey beach was one of the main locations for the film 'The man of Aran'. Twin thatch cottages built for the film are visible to the west of the beach, where they now operate as a restaurant and a bed and breakfast.
Fishing has always been important to the islanders, the barren limestone landscape did not produce vast quantities of food; but the sea could always be relied upon to supply a rich source of fish.
Most fishing on Aran these days is rock fishing but some still fish using the old Currach(rowing boats), and these can always be seen dotted around the coast of the Island. There is a wide range of fish caught here including Cod, Whiting, Mackeral, Monkfish, John Dorey, Pollack and seasonally Lobster and Prawns.
Patrún is the annual festival held on Aran to celebrate the Patron Saints of each of the Islands. The day is action packed and includes activities for all age groups, including boat racing (both Hooker and Currach), swimming, children's competitions on the beach, Tug o' war, donkey racing, music and dancing on the pier. Held the last week-end in June this festival celebrates the culture and traditions of Aran through the years.
Accommodation on the island is plentiful and wide ranging. Budget travelers can enjoy the lively atmosphere of the modern, well presented and reasonably priced hostels on the island. The island also boasts a large number of fine guesthouses, B&Bs and one hotel.
Aran Island Ferries are happy to book accommodation for our passengers on the Islands.