The Aran Islands

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  • Aspects of Galway City and County

Island Features

The Aran Islands lie off the west coast of Ireland. There are three islands: Inis Mór (Big Island), Inis Meáin (Middle island) and Inis Oírr(East island). The islands can be reached by ferries which leave from Galway every day.

The landscape of the islands is like that of the Burren in Co. Clare as many thousands of years ago they were joined. There is very little shelter, no moutainside or woodland.

The main industries on the islands are fishing and tourism. Irish is the first language of the islands and many students come to learn Irish during the summer.

There are a number of old forts on the islands. They date from the Bronze Age and from the Iron Age. The most famous of these forts is Dún Aonghusa on Inis Mór. People come from all over the world to see it. Nobody is certain what exactly these forts were used for.

The Islands and Literature

Some of Ireland's greatest writers have connections with the Aran Islands. Islanders, Liam O'Flaherty and Máirtín Ó Direáin, wrote in the Irish language. O'Flaherty was also a successful writer in the English language. J.M. Synge and Lady Augusta Gregory were visitors who found inspiration on the islands.

Aran Jumpers

An item of clothing is associated with the islands. Tourists visiting Ireland often like to buy an Aran jumper as a souvenir of their trip.

Aran jumpers were traditionally knitted by island women for their husbands who were fishermen. The sweaters were made from sheep's wool and had intricate patterns. The sheep's wool was unwashed - the natural oils in the wool helped make the sweaters water resistant.