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    Ireland’s Aran Islands

    Aran Islands cliffs and sea

    The Aran Islands with Joyce’s Ireland Hiking Tours

    The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located off the west coast of Ireland. They are Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer, and they are renowned for their rugged beauty, ancient heritage, and unique culture. Although they form part of the County of Galway, they are in fact geologically more akin to the Burren region of County Clare.

    The islands are a popular destination for hikers who want to experience the beauty of Ireland’s west coast and immerse themselves in its rich history and traditions.

    The islands provide a unique and intriguing hiking experience. With rugged heather-covered landscapes, rich history, and spectacular coastal views, the islands boast some of the country’s most breathtaking and rewarding hiking routes. There are endless networks of easy paths lined with ancient dry stone walls. The landscape is truly unique.

    Dry stone walls

    For those looking for a dramatic trek, the cliffs of Inishmore (the largest of the three islands) offer an exhilarating but gentle climb which leads to the highest point on the island at 265 meters. Here hikers will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, and the other islands that make up the Aran archipelago. The famous fort of Dún Aenghus is at the top of this high point, allowing visitors to take in the historic ruins up close.

    On our Joyce’s Ireland “Into the West” tour, our accommodation is located at the foot of Dún Aenghus and there is a dramatic one mile walk to reach the top. This impressive fort dates back over 2,000 years and is believed to have been a ceremonial site as well as a defensive structure. We can explore the fort and its surroundings, and enjoy incredible views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape. The cliff beside the fort drops a dramatic 330 feet into the wild Atlantic Ocean.

    For those seeking a more leisurely journey, the Cliffs of Dooagh offer a great opportunity to explore the local reaches of the island, as well as a chance to observe some of its interesting wildlife such as seals and numerous bird species.

    In addition to its historic sites, Inishmore is also known for its beautiful beaches and scenic coastal walks. Visitors can stroll along the island’s rugged coastline, taking in the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Cliffs of Moher. They can also relax on one of the island’s many sandy beaches, such as Kilmurvey Beach, which is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.

    Hikers enjoying breathtaking views of the cliffs and ocean

    The second largest island, Inishmaan, is known for its traditional way of life and its strong ties to the Irish language and culture. Visitors to the island can experience traditional Irish music, dance, and storytelling. The island is also home to a number of historic sites, including the 14th-century church of St. Ciarán, which is believed to be one of the oldest churches in Ireland.

    Hawtorn tree and flower with bees

    All three of the Aran Islands produce the famous Aran sweaters, which are made from locally sourced wool from the Galway mainland.

    The smallest of the three islands is Inisheer, which is known for its charming village and its stunning natural beauty. Visitors can explore the island’s narrow streets and traditional thatched cottages, or take a stroll along the sandy beach and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. The island is also home to a number of historic sites, including the ruins of the 10th-century church of St. Caomhán, which is said to have been founded by the island’s patron saint.

    Traditional thatched cottage

    Visitors to the Aran Islands can reach the islands by ferry from the nearby town of Galway or from the village of Doolin in County Clare, or from Rossaveal on the coast of County Galway. Once on the islands, visitors can explore the various sites and attractions on foot, by bicycle, or by horse and carriage. They can also enjoy traditional Irish food and drink at one of the island’s many pubs and restaurants.


    Overall, the Aran Islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors who want to experience the beauty and culture of Ireland’s west coast. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply enjoying the stunning natural beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, the Aran Islands have something for everyone.

    Horse carriage on small road

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