Day 4 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour brings us to The Aran Islands. Located on west coast of Ireland, the islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr take you back in time and immerse you into the traditional Irish way of life. The Aran Islands are also an official Gaeltacht area, meaning Irish or Gaelic is the predominant language here. Many residents do speak English – particularly on Inis Mór, which attracts plenty of tourists yearly – including us!
After a fun night out in Galway, we woke up nice and early to eat breakfast at the hostel and headed out to buy a bagged lunch for the day. As we would be spending the day roaming around Inis Mór, Dave (our tour guide) had suggested for us to take along a lunch. We were careful not to be late – as the bus to the ferry will not wait for us! Once everyone gathered, we followed Dave to the bus stop. A double decker bus was waiting to connect us to ferry terminal at Ros a’ Mhíl. This was not a private bus for our tour, so members of the public could also take it to connect to the ferry terminal. The websites here and here have more details – including shuttle bus stops, schedules and the connecting ferries. I believe Lally Tours run the shuttle buses for both of these companies. This shuttle bus took us along a scenic coastal route from Galway city centre to the ferry terminal, making a couple of stops to pick up passengers along the way.
Once we got to the ferry terminal, we boarded the Aran Island Ferries and got settled in for our journey to Inis Mór. We were so lucky with the weather! (We think it was that rainbow we saw the day before!) Our adventures, particularly today, would not have been as spectacular if it was pouring rain or there was a storm brewing. And we probably wouldn’t have been able to make it to the cliffs due to safety reasons – as you’ll soon see!
After a smooth ferry ride (where I can’t remember a thing since I tend to fall asleep on any moving mode of transportation), we arrived at our destination – the beautiful island of Inis Mór! The ferry dropped us off at the pier in the main village of Kilronan. Dave then gave us some options for our day: you could hang out around the main village; hire a bike and follow Dave on a tour of the island; or hire a horse and wagon to take you around! Natalie went with the bike option, while I went horseback riding! For Natalie’s bike adventures, click here!
The beautiful Bay on our arrival
Sadly for me, I had never properly learned to bike so that wasn’t an option for the day! Luckily enough, there were some tour mates that also didn’t want to do the biking option and instead we opted to do something a little bit different.
Dave had told us there was the option of exploring the island by horse and wagon! Although that sounded rather appealing, one of our new friends suggested to actually go horseback riding! I had never been horse back riding but, for one reason or another, it seemed less daunting than a bike! Our friend got in contact with the person who schedules Aran Island Horseback Riding and programmed us to go for a ride that afternoon. I was extremely excited seeing as this was something I had never done before and did I mention I love animals!!!
If you want more info about how to go on your own Inis Mór horseback riding adventure visit Aran Island Horseback Riding’s Facebook page here!
Ruins of a Church as we walked to our destination
Walking along, we got some beautiful views of the island, as well as some of the ruins that remain from times passed. Once we reached the house where our guide lived, I was even more entranced by Inis Mór. It’s exactly the type of entry to a house I’d love to own!
Entrance to Aran Island Horseback Riding
After meeting our guide and discussing our levels of experience with horseback riding, we each got a lovely horse. Mine was named Lady and she was the most mellow of the bunch =P!
As we were mounting, we could already see the beautiful views from our guide’s house. I could definitely get used to seeing this every single day!
View from our guide’s home
Our guide walked us around the island and showed us some of its spectacular untouched scenery and glorious beaches. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to record the names but if you do the Horseback Riding tour you will definitely view some of these untouched sites yourself!
Beautiful beach on our ride
Inis Mór and the other two Aran Islands are mostly made up of limestone rock consisting of clints and grikes. This makes for a spectacular landscape, in addition to the dry stone walls that are all around the island! Our guide told us the walls were constructed to separate land for farming and is still used as such today!
Moving along, we got some photo opportunities on the beautiful beaches and I even attempted a gallop on my lovely horse Lady. She was a tad lazy and we never actually did come to a slow gallop, but it was fun nonetheless! The colours of the water and the beaches themselves were beautiful (something I hadn’t expected to see in Ireland) and it was great to get so up close and personal with some of the more hidden parts of Inis Mór.
Lady and I posing
Photo Opportunity on the Beach!
We came to learn that the island only has about 840 inhabitants and of course everybody is keenly aware of everybody else! With so much land, the raising of animals is the main occupation on the island, along with the famous production of Aran Wool, which Natalie will talk about in another post! As we trotted along, we got to see more of our guide’s land and met some of his other horses and animals! The scenery continued to be spectacular and of course the fact that it was sunny made the island look even more stunning.
There are several abandoned houses on the Island making the scenery even more interesting (I sure want this one!)
Lady continued to be a lovely companion and walked slowly enough for me to snap a few pictures of her and the beautiful landscape around me!
Beautiful Water and Landscape surrounding us
Our horseback adventure was slowly coming to an end and I was sad it couldn’t last longer! It was such a great experience to view the island from this perspective and I was very grateful that my new friend Marissa suggested we do this! As our horses climbed the hill back to our guide’s home, we had to say goodbye and hope we could come back again soon!
Our Horses taking a well deserved break
I’d definitely recommend this experience if you are visiting the Aran Islands! If you are staying on the island, you can do both this and biking! It is a bit off the beaten path and you can view some sights you may not know to see if you were biking around! I definitely enjoyed it and would do it again!!!
Sunshine, Water, Warmth – what more could we have wanted?!
Our next stop would be: Dún Aonghasa – a stone fort on a 300 ft cliff. You just know the views here will be epic! Stay tuned for more!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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