Whomever it may have played host to in years past, on this day Dún Aengus is taken over by a group of Brazilian visitors posing for a provocative photo shoot, leaving me to ponder who had it harder: the poor guys who were forced to lug all these rocks into place or the South American girls braving the cold Irish wind wearing micro shorts?
Back on my two-wheel cruiser, I set course for the island’s best-known church ruin, Na Seacht dTeampaill, also known as The Seven Churches, which are believed to have been constructed between the 8th and 15th centuries A.D. While indeed there may well have been seven churches originally, to my discerning eye it appears that only two stone structures have survived the harsh north Atlantic weather.
No matter, as this is one great place for poking around. As luck would have it, I have the whole area to myself, giving me plenty of opportunities to photograph the intricate stone work. Stone crosses mark an ancient graveyard outside one of the structures. The current theory is that I’m standing on ancient slabs commemorating seven Romans who died here.
With the late afternoon sun beating down, I leave the ancient world behind and hit the fine beach at Kilmurvey, about 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Kilronan. Inishmore might be known for the currach, a traditional fishing boat, as well as for its ivory-colored hand-knit Aran sweaters and many impressive archaeological sites, but this beautiful stretch of sand tucked away in Kilmurvey Bay is a slice of heaven with a fabulous view of the Connemara Mountains on the northern horizon.
On such a splendid day (yes, despite being in Ireland, the big yellow orb does make frequent appearances) the only occupants on Kilmurvey’s beach this afternoon are two children building sand castles, while the island’s historical delights keep the tourists occupied.
After a day of fort and church hopping, it’s time to take part in the great Irish pastime, listening to live music with a pint of Guinness in hand. In Ireland, a good pub is never far away.
At Joe Watty’s bar on the outskirts of Kilronan, you can expect the very best traditional Irish jam sessions, both vocal and instrumental, according to the bartender. On this occasion, three musicians are doing their part to rev up the patrons with a seemingly endless melody that befits Inishmore — subtle, yet full of energy.
If You Go
May, June and September are excellent times to visit, with fewer crowds and fairly stable weather.
Aran Island Ferries (www.aranislandferries.com) operates year-round ferry service to Inishmore from Rossaveal. Aran Cycle Hire, in Kilronan, has plenty of bikes that can be hired for about €10 a day.
Kilmurvey House (www.kilmurveyhouse.com) is an 18th century stone accommodation located only a stone’s throw from Kilmurvey’s beautiful beach. A double room is €80 per night.
Aran Islands Tourism