Activities on Inis Mór Island
Taking a holiday on the Aran Islands offers the opportunity to take part in any number of activities and events. They provide an excellent way of getting to know the island and the Islanders, and of course to have a good time. There are activities and events to suit all tastes throughout the year, ensuring that whenever you visit Inis Mor, there is always something interesting to do! Here, you can find some examples of the events and activities you might try when on holiday in Inis Mor.
Yoga & Meditation
Yoga and meditation workshops are normally organised through schools who choose Inis Mor as a location for their retreats. As such, these are normally organised through the schools themselves, although you could contact Aran Camping and Glamping to enquire about any upcoming workshops they may be hosting.
Due to its inspiring nature, creative writing courses and workshops are also held throughout the year. Whether visiting as part of an organised course, or simply spending some time in relative solitude on the island, inspiration can be found everywhere. Behind each door is another unique story, each landmark has centuries of history attached. The beauty of the natural surroundings and the ever present elements all contribute towards its charm. In addition to visiting writers, Inis Mor has a number of resident poets.
The Aran Islands are rich in flora and fauna, with bird watchers and botanists travelling to visit the island to see species they might not be able to see anywhere else.
Inis Mor is both permanent and temporary home for a variety of different sorts of birds throughout the year. The cuckoo, for example, makes an appearance from the end of April until the beginning of June, and people visiting the island during this time may be able to hear them, with some even singing in unison. The beginning of summer also heralds the arrival of swallows, housemartins, curlus and pheasants.
Due to its location and the inviting cliffs, Inis Mor is also frequented by numerous types of seabirds. Gannets and lapwings dart about in the air, and there is even a section of the island that is almost exclusively used by golden plubbers. Particularly fortunate bird watchers might also catch a glimpse of falcons and other birds of prey.
Many people will already know of the seal colony on Inis Mor, but there are other larger animals to keep an eye open for as well. Stoats, otters, and rabbits are all present on the island.
An explosion of colours occurs around May, when wild flowers begin blooming in earnest all over the landscape. Their bright colours provide a stark contrast to the grey limestone rock that prevails through most of the year! Some flowers and plants are not found anywhere else in Ireland, which makes them of particular interest to botanists. Some of the flowers and plants you might encounter include Gentian, primroses, cowslips, bloody-crane’s bill and fuschia.
Inis Mor is almost ideally sized to explore on foot. A number of official and unofficial paths criss-cross the island, linking together places of interest. Organised walking tours with themes such as nature watching or archaeological tours are sometimes held throughout the peak summer months.
Inis Mor and the Aran Islands might not initially strike you as a surfing hotspot, but that’s because you haven’t seen the waves yet! There are some good swells and currents to be found, and an increasing number of surfers visit Inis Mor and the other Aran Islands each year to test out new spots.
There is now a newly opened sailing school in the town of Kilronan for visitors to the island that would like to improve their sailing skills and gain extra qualifications.
It seems that the Aran Islands have always acted as a place of pilgrimage. From the sacred burial sites dating back 5000 years, to places of Christian significance, it seems that people have long been drawn to Inis Mor. ‘Energy seekers’ often comment that Inis Mor has a strong spiritual energy, with the numerous ring forts, wells, and standing stones acting as concentrations of power. Some of these places of power from thousands of years ago were later adopted by the Christians who built churches on top of sites already associated with rituals. Exploring the sacred sites of Inis Mor is an activity that attracts many visitors to the island.
Inis Mor is a wonderful place for photographers to spend some time, with photography tours and workshops being organised both by people living on the island, and by others who would hold a visiting workshop.
As a stronghold of Irish culture and tradition, Inis Mor is a good choice of destination for people seeking to learn or brush up on their knowledge of the Irish language. Irish is in common usage all over Inis Mor, and language classes are available for those that want to go deeper with their learning.
Knitting is of course another skill that the islanders are willing to teach to visitors. The Aran Island Sweater is the most famous example of products produced, but all types of knitting and wool spinning are taught.
Genealogy has a long standing importance within Irish society, and developments in modern technology have made discovering family trees easier. On the Aran Islands, this is taken a step further, as the famous Aran Sweaters often contain codes as to which clans the designers originated from.
For the kids
Families who are planning a vacation on Inis Mor will be pleased to know that there is a children’s playground for the kids to use. This modern playground was created by the locals for their own kids, but visitors are more than welcome to go in and have some fun!
Food tours and cooking classes where you can learn how to cook local, traditional dishes are being developed. Watch this space for more news!
Fishing, Boats & Yachtsman
Anyone with an interest in fishing will enjoy spending time on Inis Mor. Fishing has long been a way of life for the islanders, and still to this day, many people go out for long periods of time on the trawlers. Visitors arriving on the island will often be met by the sight of small fishing boats moored by the pier, with the distinctive ‘Galway Hooker’ design standing out from the crowd. Various festivals throughout the year feature Galway Hooker racing competitions which are an exciting thing to watch as people cheer on.
As well as the fishing boats used by the islands, visiting yachts drop anchor over the summer months in the turquoise waters of Kilronan harbour. It’s a popular stopping point for people sailing the Galway Bay, or even brave souls circumnavigating Ireland!
Cycling on Inis Mór Island
Although some of the islanders have vehicles, no cars can be taken to Inis Mor on the passenger ferries from mainland Ireland. This means that the bicycle is the best way for visitors to get around and see the island. Daytrippers can easily take the 30 minute bike ride from the pier on arrival to the main tourist site of Dun Aonghasa, with only a small level of fitness needed. For people staying on Inis Mor for longer, bicycles provide a way of reaching the furthest parts of the island to see the other natural and historical sites. Bike hire is available from the pier.
Basket weaving is just one of the many crafts to have been passed down from generation to generation. Teachers have realised the importance of keeping this cultural knowledge alive, and now share their expertise by teaching others in well run courses held throughout the year.
Arts, Crafts and Music
The Aran Islanders have kept many local traditions and skills alive, some of which are reflected in the arts, crafts and music to be found there. As a result, this in turn attracts many other creative people into visiting Inis Mor to learn, enhance and develop their own skills.
Music is not just an art on Inis Mor, it’s a way of life. Certainly no pub is complete without some live traditional music, and both kids and adults seem to have music in their hearts and souls. Anyone with an interest in traditional Irish music will be pleased by visiting Inis Mor, and it’s a good place to learn about the instruments and songs.
Archeology and History
The Aran Islands has a long human history, with the Bronze Age fortifications on the island being of interest to scholars and people with a casual interest in ancient civilisations alike. In fact, there is some discussion as to if Dun Aonghasa, the most famous fortification, was in fact a fortification at all. The sheer size of this and other structures on the island indicates the presence of a well organised society, whose numbers may actually have been larger than today’s inhabitants. Many books have been written about the island and its history, and many other stories and legends are eagerly shared by the people that live there. Inis Mor is a definite place of interest for anyone who likes to imagine what life was like in the past!