…in which we travel to the Aran Islands and dance at Dún Aonghasa.
The alarm goes off at 7AM, and although we are both sleeping soundly, we quickly get out of bed. This is the day we had booked the ferry to visit the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland.
We drive along the coast, from Galway to Rossaveel, a small town about 1 hour west; from there we take the Aran Island Ferry at 10:30AM, a 40 minute ride to the largest of the islands, Inis Mor (pronounced, Innishmore). Apart from just wanting to visit the island, we had 2 objectives: 1) visit Dún Aonghasa (anglicized as Dun Aengus), an ancient fort on the western edge of the island, and 2) visit the Aran Sweater Market, known worldwide for its beautiful sweaters made of Aran wool.
After we get off the ferry, we’re a little hungry, so we stop in at one of the restaurants and have a seafood chowder – excellent! We then head to one of the half dozen bike rental shops and rent 2 bikes; the attendant tells us that it’s a 6km ride to the fort, about 30 minutes.
For people in shape and used to bicycling, sure, maybe. It takes us almost 45 minutes to get there; granted, we stop several places along the way to snap some pictures.
Inis Mor is a beautifully barren place; miles and miles of stone walls, so typical of the Irish landscape. A few horses and cattle dot the fields, idly munching on grass, barely looking up as we pass.
We make it to the base of the hill where the fort is situated; from there, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk up a gentle slope. We reach the outer wall of the fort and walk through a small doorway. The view beyond the wall is breathtaking!
The fort is built in a semi-circular shape right on the edge of a 100 metre cliff (over 300 ft, for my American friends). It looks out over the North Atlantic ocean. The picture on the left is not mine, obviously, but is included here to show the entire fort. It is not clear exactly when the fort was built, but it is estimated that the earliest construction began around 1100 BC.
We spend some time walking around, and – like many of the other tourists there – have fun taking selfies at the edge of the cliff. In this one, for example, we are standing about 6 feet from the edge, and you can see the cliffs behind us. That was enough for us, but some are more daring, sitting right on the edge with their feet dangling off the side!
We are in such a remote place, where warriors once stood guard against potential invaders; the weather-beaten rocks and cliffs standing defiantly against it all – it’s an incredible feeling, and we try to fathom the history of the place. It just seems like….a good place to dance! I take out a small bluetooth speaker that I carry with me, and put on one of our favourite songs, and we dance on the edge of the cliffs (but not too close!). Oddly enough, there are few visitors in that area, and the few that are there have their backs turned to us and barely notice us. It’s kind of a cool moment!
It’s time to head back, if we want to shop a little at the Sweater Market, so we walk back down towards the bikes, taking in the sweeping views of the island.
It took us 45 minutes to get to the fort, but the way back is even harder! We stop often to catch our breath, our legs are burning and our butts are sore! It ends up taking us a little over an hour to get back to the port, and by the time we do, we are wiped! We only have about 40 minutes to shop before the ferry heads back.
We purchase a few things and practically run back to the ferry, although Claire’s legs are so tired we barely make it in time.
Exhausted from the day, we head back to Galway for supper and…a few pints! There are many, many pubs to choose from in Galway – that’s not the problem. Most of them have excellent, traditional pub food; the problem: there are so many people in the pubs that you can’t find a place to sit! Most people are standing around with a pint in their hands, but the tables are also full. Every nook and cranny is jammed with people! We finally find a place where we get a table (restaurant, not pub) and have a good meal.
After our meal, we head back to Garavan’s to have a couple of drinks and see Darren, again (see my entry for Day 1). He takes the time to come over and chat with us, and we have a couple of good whiskies and a Guinness. He had recommended a Redbreast 12-year old whiskey, which we like very much.
On our way back to our place, we stop in at a couple of pubs, soaking in the energy, life and atmosphere of each. This city loves to party, and the Irish certainly love to gather in the evenings with their friends to have a few pints, laugh and talk. It is exactly as I had pictured it.
Tomorrow we leave Galway and head to Doolin, about an hour and a half south. This will certainly be a change of pace, as Doolin is a tiny little village by the coast in County Clare.
I shall miss thee, Galway!