Inis Mor, Ireland

I started writing about Inis Mor after my first trip there.  Unfortunately, I never finished the blog, so I think it’s fitting to finish it, now that I have so much new information to add. First, a bit from a few years ago:

Now, to be honest there are about a million reason why I love Ireland.  Everyone loves Ireland.  It’s a wonderful place!  I had been to Ireland twice before this trip (though one was just a stop over in the airport.)  As soon as I got to Ireland the first time, I started making plans to go back.  Unfortunately for me, my trip was in April of 2010, and a volcanic eruption in Iceland disrupted the air traffic in all of Europe, and cut me off from Ireland.  I was ‘stuck’ in Prague.  This served only to multiply my interest in going back.  I had to wait two long years, but finally,  I was headed back to Ireland.

My cousin with me, we spent the first few days in Dublin, and then made our way to the west coast.  I love Dublin.  I have had many many great experiences there.  (including St Patrick’s Day in Temple Bar)  I was ready to say that Dublin was my favorite city in Ireland, and one of my favorites in the world.  And then, then I went to Galway.  Galway is rather unassuming.  It’s not large, it’s not particularly beautiful.  But the vibe is amazing.  It’s very hard to blog about the ‘vibe’ of a place.  It’s just such a cool place to be.  So musical, and fun.  Cute shops, lots of live music, great pubs, and amazingly fun people.  I really really enjoy buskers and street music.  Dublin was sublime for that.  But Galway was amazing as well, especially considering how much smaller the city is.  One of my favorite moments of my trip so far was the experience of walking down the road at night and hearing a rather otherworldly sound.  It grew louder and louder until I came around the corner and saw it.  A didgeridoo player on the streets of Galway.

But, after just a few days in Galway we decided to do an overnight trip to Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands, just off the coast.  It seemed like a fun and easy way to do something a little ‘off the beaten path.’

The ferry ride over was short.  Which was lucky for me, because the water was pretty choppy and had the trip been about 5 minutes longer, I’m pretty sure I would have been sick.  But luck being on my side, as well as some soothing music by Trevor Hall, I made it safely to the island.  And what a good thing I did!

The ferry lands in the main city on Inis Mor, Kilronan.  Calling Kilronan a city is almost laughable.  It’s hardly even a town really…  Considering the entire population of the island is 800 people, it is the most concentrated population, almost 300 people live in Kilronan.  In the village there are several small shops selling souvenirs, almost exclusively knitted wool items.  There is one grocery store, one hostel, a few pubs, and some B&Bs as well.  There is also a bike rental shop.

First stop, hostel.  We checked in with possibly the single nicest hostel worker I have met prior or since.  Heidi was super, and so helpful.  Checked into the room and then headed out to the bike rental shop.  Bikes can be rented for 24 hours, so that’s what we did.  Now, I was a little tentative about this ‘biking around the island’ idea.  Mostly because it had been about 14 years since the last time I had ridden a bike.  Also, because the island is pretty big.  But ‘oh, come on, it’ll be fun!’  And fun it was.

The funny thing about riding a bike, is that anytime you haven’t done something in awhile, and you try to restart for the first time, everyone tells you, ‘it’s just like riding a bike!’  and I always took that for granted.  Luckily for me- it is just like riding a bike!  And without a problem we took off on the coastal road up to the northern part of the island.

The most interesting place on the island, to me, were the cliffs at the black fort. Inis Mor is known for its druid forts, and this one was just so cool. The cliffs just drop straight down. There is no fence, no railing, no sign, no person yelling at you not to get too close to the edge… just land, and then cliff. And then water, about 300 feet below.
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I could have stayed there forever, just listening to the waves crash against the rocks… it was so relaxing. The water was such a pretty blue green. The weather was phenomenal (how often do you say that about Ireland) and there were no people. Other than my cousin and I we saw one other person the whole time we were at the fort. It’s quite a secluded feeling.
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As far as the eye could see, no people… no houses, no cars, just fields, rocks, cliffs. Bliss. But eventually, bliss faded to hunger, so we went to the cafe.
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It’s name was Teach Nan Phaidi.  It was amazing. Probably the best meal I have had in a really long time. We both had beef and guiness stew, with a raisin scone. Now, the stew was SO GOOD. I wanted to eat it forever. But the scone. The scone was the best scone I have ever had in my life. Upon eating them, we bought all the rest of the scones to eat for breakfast the next day. So worth it.

And that brings us to my most recent experience on Inis Mor.  Which also included a stop back at Teach Nan Phaidi, because it actually was so delicious.  This time, I opted for the potatoes au gratin and carrot cake.  Both of them were phenomenal.

After spending so long in countries that don’t speak English, I was really excited to spend the summer in a place where everyone speaks English.  Little did I realize that Inis Mor is one of the last true strongholds where day to day life is in Irish.  Everyone spoke English as well though, so that was good!  And I got to learn a bit of Irish!

I also got to do a bit more exploring on this trip because I was there for considerably longer.  Instead of just staying for a night, I was there for about three weeks.  I loved it.  The weather was great, though often a bit rainy and windy.

One of the things I loved about the island was how friendly the animals were.  When you walk down the street, a lot of the animals will come up to you and say hi.

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Like this horse!

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Or that one.  Or these cows, that I swear posed for this picture:

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And this cow, who started off on the other side of the field and walked allll the way over to say and have it’s nose rubbed:

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Turns out, I’m not a huge fan of petting cows.  They’re quite big. Though these were quite friendly as well.

The island is all about natural beauty.  Natural beauty in spades!

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Rocky bits, beachy bits…

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The Black Fort is still my favorite, because it is not as popular as Dún Aonghasa.  Though Dún Aonghasa is pretty cool as well:

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I just thought everything about this island was just wonderful.

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Even the street signs:

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But yeah, when you wake up every morning and this is your view:

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You’re doing something right!

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