Aran Islands Oileain Arann
The Aran Islands lie in the Atlantic between 25 and 30 miles southwest of Galway. There are three islands: Inishmore (area 12 sq. mi/30.54 sq. km), Inishmaan (3.5 sq. mi/9 sq. km), and Inisheer (2.25 sq. mi/5.6 sq. km).The Aran Islands can be reached either by air or sea. Aer Arann flies daily to all three islands from Carnmore, 4mi/6km northeast of Galway.
On the edge of the cliffs fringing the southwest coast of Inishmore is the great stone fort of Dún Aenghus, a mighty semicircle of three roughly concentric enclosures on the brink of sheer cliffs dropping 300ft/90m to the sea. The inner court, 150ft/45m in diameter, is surrounded by a stepped drystone wall, 20ft/6m high and 18ft/5.4m thick at the base, containing various passages and chambers. The middle rampart is surrounded by a defense consisting of thousands of sharp-pointed stones set close together (chevaux-de-frise), in the manner of a modern tank barrier. From the edge of the cliff, one can catch a breathtaking glimpse of the surf far below and a splendid view over the sea.
Oghil Fort (a National Monument) lies to the east of Dún Aenghus on the island of Inishmore. The Oghil fort is a stone fort with two concentric ring-walls and steps leading up to the ramparts.
North of Dún Aenghus on Inishmore island, at the hamlet of Kilmurvey, are the ninth century Church of St Brecan and Temple MacDuagh, an early church with a choir.
On a ridge northwest of Kilmurphey on Inishmore island stands the stone fort of Dún Onaght, which is almost exactly circular in form.
Kilronan, at the southeast end of Inishmore, is the chief place on the island. 2mi/3km south, around Killeany, are the remains of numerous religious buildings.
Of particular interest at Killeany on the southeast end of the island of Inishmore is Tighlagh Eany, an early church. The church has later features as well, and is all that remains of the monastic settlement of St Enda (Eany); there is a very fine cross shaft with interlace ornament and a relief figure of a horseman.
St Benan's Church
Near Tighlagh Eany on Inishmore island is St Benan's Church, one of the smallest churches in the world, measuring only 10.75x7ft/3.2x2.1m.
The smaller islands that are part of the Aran Island group have remains of old buildings scattered about in a landscape of stony soil and drystone walls.On a steep-sided hill on Inishmaan rises the oval fort of Dún Conor (National Monument), with a number of hut sites (restored) in the interior. It affords excellent views, and also has a fine dolmen. The old way of life of the Aran islanders, especially their clothing, is particularly well preserved on Inishmaan.The house of the poet and dramatist John Millington Synge, who drew attention to the special nature of the archipelago in his book "The Aran Islands" (1907), has been carefully preserved.
Among the remains on Inisheer island are the medieval tower of O'Brien's Castle, prominently situated on a rocky hill.
Inishneer - St Gobnet's Church
St Gobnet's Church, on the island of Inishneer, is a small oratory with the characteristic features of Early Irish architecture.
St Cavan's Church
Every year on June 14 the little church of St Cavan is cleared of the sand that continually drifts over it so that a service can be held; the Saint's tomb is also swept clear of sand for the occasion.
Ionad Arann - Aran's Heritage Center
The Aran Center in the old coastguard station informs visitors about the Aran Islands and their inhabitants.