Aran Islands, Co. Galway
The Aran Islands (Irish: Oileáin Árann) are a group of three islands located 48km (30 miles) out to sea at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland.
The largest island is Inishmore also known as Aranmore (Irish: Árainn (Mhór) or Inis Mór), the middle and second-largest is Inishmaan (Inis Meáin / Inis Meadhóin), and the smallest and most eastern is Inisheer (Inis Thiar or Inis Oírr / Inis Oirthir). Irish is a spoken language on all three islands, and is the language used for the names of the islands and many of the island's villages and place names.
The the sturdy fisherfolk and their islands were immortalised by the playwright J.M. Synge in Riders to the Sea and The Aran Islands. All three islands are rugged and barren. Through unremitting toil the islanders have made soil from sand and seaweed to provide sustenance for their livestock. Kilronan, on Inishmore, is the main town of the islands and the terminus of the boat service from the mainland.
There are several Iron Age forts on Inishmore, including Dún Aengus (Dún Aonghasa) and the Black Fort (Dún Dúchathair). Visitors come in large numbers, particularly in the summer time.
Two companies operate a ferry service from Rossaveal in County Galway - Aran Direct and Island Ferries. Aran Direct is owned and operated by islanders, and operates a year round service to all three islands. They also offer an "Island Hop" service during June, July and August to connect the three islands.
An air service (Aer Arann) is available from Inverin, both of which have connecting buses from Galway city.
There is also a ferry service from Doolin, in County Clare (near the Cliffs of Moher) to Inisheer. There is currently no direct ferry service from Galway city.