On even the best of days the waters between western Ireland and its offshore islands can be temperamental, but on this particular windy spring afternoon my ferry ride to Inishmore was the equivalent of spending a couple of hours on an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster. “Don’t worry, it’ll be more than worth it,” the boat captain assures me as I lay my head back, wishing I hadn’t had that extra Guinness the night before. It didn’t take very long once we hit land to realize that he was spot on.
Far removed from the east coast hustle and bustle of Dublin and the political problems that have plagued Northern Ireland, the Aran Islands are peaceful retreats characterized by treeless horizons, towering cliffs and an assortment of archaeological wonders. They also appear to be in no rush to catch up to the modern world. After all, there aren’t too many places left where a horse and carriage is still the main form of transportation.
The boat disembarked at the small town of Kilronan. I had often read that Kilronan had sold its soul to the devil and given in to the wickedness of tourism. If you call a small tourist office, a few guys clambering to take you on island tours and a bank with no ATM as “selling-out,” then I’d hate to see what these authors would say about Niagara Falls.
Tourists are not able to take cars to the Aran Islands, which means getting around is limited to four options: a small tour van — no thanks, too quick; horse-and-cart — I’d rather not spend a day looking at a horse’s backside; foot — at 10 miles long, not the best option to see everything Inishmore has to offer; or bike — bingo!
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