My primary motivation of a travel to the Aran Islands was related to the famous book of Nicolas Bouvier Journal d’Aran et d’autres lieux. This exquisite piece of literature made me think about this place and finally find a way to go there. I spent almost a week on the biggest of all islands- Inishmore- and I think I understood why Bouvier came back full of delight. There is something special about this place that combines isolation with community, harsh climate with mellow landscape, love for the past and entrepreneurship. This is truly extraordinary place to be.
Off the beaten track destination
For some people this is more than enough to visit a place. For the others this is a good reason not to go at all. Having said this you need to know that the Aran Islands are not something you would call ‘wilderness’. There is a lot of human activity around and you won’t meet wild bears nor pinguins. This is not a place where you need to bring your own shotgun to protect yourselves from the wild animals. Although, similar to all other islands, this is a considerably isolated place which allowed to develop particular species of birds and flowers, and which allows you to relax and catch a different perspective on the things left at home.
If you have ever spent your holiday in a place where it was raining for 2 weeks you will agree that changeability is a real advantage. Staying on the island for more than a day will bring you enormous variety of the weather conditions: wind, rain, sun, wind again, and even rainbow. Watching the rain and knowing it will pass in few minutes is fun. This will also allow you to appreciate fantastic landscapes lighten up by the sun, covered with light clouds, and lighten again. And all of this passes above your head in minutes.
The islands provide a variety of landscapes, starting with white sandy beaches, through gentle hills, green pastures, ending with rocky cliffs and rough shores. Inishmore is small enough to see it all and large enough to provide such a variety. Likewise the human activity on the island is equally interesting: traditional houses and stone walls make the landscape just perfect.
Strong flavor of old Ireland
Ireland has a positive image of an interesting country with strong Celtic influences. When coming to Ireland people expect to see at least part of Irish large cultural heritage. They are eager to watch ancient ruins and listen to the traditional Irish music when drinking Guinness in a dark and old pub. There are many places in Ireland where you can feel touch of old times, however, the Aran Islands- thanks to its natural isolation- kept the old Ireland exceptionally well. No modern buildings, no fancy architecture, not even street lights! There is simply nothing that spoils the landscape. There is no need to imagine how Ireland looked like in old times: on the Aran Islands you simply see it. And hear it in widely spoken Irish language.
Thanks to its geological structure of limestone Inishmore has an exceptional natural conditions. The islands have an unusually temperate climate. Limestone catches heat from the sun quickly and gives it back slowly. Surprisingly, the temperature of the soil is always above zero which is very unusual. Thanks to this particular circumstance the vegetation on the island is one of the longest in Ireland. Bird watchers and nature lovers find their paradise here.
Need more reasons to visit the Aran Islands? Follow this blog and read next post this week.