The Hands on Holiday
The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. Inish Maan is the middle of the three islands. Inish Maan is quieter and less touristy than its two neighbours - Inishmore and Inisheer.
There have been people living on these baren islands for the past 5,000 years but were first populated in larger numbers, probably at the time of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. It was at this point in the mid 17th century, when the Catholic population of Ireland had the choice of going "to hell or to Connacht". With the numerous islands off the west coast of Ireland many fled to them seeking safety. The bare land, raw climatic conditions and isolation meant the islanders had to become totally self-sufficient. They fertilised bare rocks with seaweed to grow potatoes and used the plentiful stone to form sturdy stone-wall enclosures with grass for cattle and sheep. The cows and sheep providing wool and yarn to make clothes and hide shoes known as 'pompotees'. With little wood unique boats known as 'currachs' were crafted for fishing and trading with the mainland.
Today, Island life is better with reliable electricity and communitions. 3 Wind Turbines built by the co-op produce enough electricity to power the entire island with some to spare. The phone lines are well established and they even have mobile telephone mast so you're mobile phone will still work. Transport to the island is via sea or by air. The service is very regular. Take a look at the different services in our Getting Here Section.
Irish is the main language on the islands but islanders are just as fluent in English. Irish is spoken less by the younger generation, although a casual visit to the island will reveal people of all ages conversing fluently in the language. Islanders are very friendly and welcoming with most working at farming(mainly sheep, cattle & potatoes), fishing and tourism.
A large ancient oval stone fort on a high point. The fort is protected by 2 smaller forts on one side and by a small valley on the other. Inside there are the foundations of several buildings . Built by Conchúir brother of Aengus of the Fir Bolg around the 5th Century A.D. Breathtaking views of the island and Inis Mor can be seen from the top.
This stone fort of the 4th Century A.D. is unusual in that it is almost square, instead of circular as the other forts on the islands. On top of a terreced hill and slopping downwards gives great views of the Cliffs of Moher, Inis Heer and the pier of Inis Maan itself.
The house where John Millington Synge stayed on the island every summer from 1898 to 1902. It was here he got inspiration for his plays The Playboy of The Western World, Riders to the Sea, and many of his other works from stories he heard while on Inis Meáin. The house he stayed in, Teach Synge, was inhabited by descendents of the Mac Donnchadha family until the 1970s, when it began to fall into disrepair. It has been carefully restored to its original condition by the Island Co-Op, and has been open to the public since August 1999.
This was the writer's favourite place on the island, overlooking Inis Mór and the great Atlantic. It was here he was inspired to write his some of his most famous plays.
Dermot and Gráinne's bed, a collapsed neolithic wedge tomb named after tragic lovers from ancient Irish mythology.
Church erected in 1939 with beautiful stained glass windows by Harry Clarke.
Ruins of an early Christian church. The grave of Saint Cinndearg is here and nearby is a holy well, Tobar Chinndeirge. Pilgrimages were made to this famous place and stations of the cross are still held here on the 15th of August.
The name may mean "Church of Canons" or may refer to St. Gregory "Cheannfhionnadh", the fair-headed. The church is a typical 8th-9th century stone building with no roof which would have been tatch. This was the graveyard for the island for many years as evident from the surrounding grave slabs.
The sea between Inis Meáin and Inis Mór is known as Gregory's sound. Legend has it that St. Gregory spent a lot of time in this cave located on a beach facing Inis Mór.
This Knitwear factory produces some of the finest of Aran clothing and design locally produced. These products are shipped all over the world but the factory has a shop where you can purchase goods directly.