September 2'nd to September 19'th 2007

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Wednesday, September 12’Th

I’ve got plenty of time this morning, since I’m heading on at noon. At 12 I take the bus for Rossaveal. It takes about an hour. The ferry to Inishmore – the largest of the Aran Islands – leaves at 1 pm. I have been there once before on a day-trip. It was windy and rainy, but the place impressed me in a way, so I promised myself to return when I got the chance. And that is what I have got now. I have booked 3 nights at Kelly House in the outskirts of the largest town on Inishmore called Kilronan.

Inishmore is made out of stone – limestone. It’s about 14 km long and 4 km wide at the widest place. The north side of the island turns nicely into the water, but the Southside is spectacular with huge cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

From the bay at Kilronan

On my way

They have been trying to make things grow on the island, but it’s only partly successful. But here and there some cows, horses and goats are able to find a little grass. To make this possible they have for generation gathered the stones and build small stone-fences all over the island. There are literally thousands of stone-fences.

I soon get a chance to take a closer look at that. My first trip is from Kelly House via Kilronan to the northern part of the Island. The trip takes me via stony roads to sight no. 9 on the map I got when boarding the ferry. The sight is Dún Dúchachair – the Black Fort. These are the ruins of an old fort very close to the cliffs. The views are amazing. I’m nearly the only tourist here this afternoon, since this place is not on the tourist-trail because you have to walk to long. A single guy shows up on a bike while I’m out there. Down below the cliffs you can hear the Atlantic Ocean hammering the Island. But if you walk just 20 feet backwards – there’s no sound at all – totally silence. That’s weird – and amazing.

It’s hard to leave this place but you have to do it. So I try to find sight no. 10 Teampall Bheanain – Saint Benan’s church – which should be close by. But I can’t find my way up there. It’s supposed to be the smallest church in the world 3.7 x 1.8 meter. Could that be the reason I can’t find it? When I give up the hope, I suddenly see it top of a hill, but I can’t find the way up there – so I have to see it in the distance instead.

Dinner is a “ping-dinner” at a restaurant in Kilronan. The term “ping-dinner” is stolen from my Pete McCarthy book, and is called so because dinner is ready when the microwave goes “ping”. On the way back home I also have a pint at Joe Watty’s bar, close to my B&B. Here in September, at 8 in the evening, in the middle (almost) of the Atlantic Ocean you can sit outside to enjoy your pint. That was certainly not possible last time I was here.

Dún Dúchachair

Thursday, September 13’Th

Some of the stone fences

This is a real B&B breakfast. It’s the traditional meal and the traditional chat with the host Mary and the only other person staying here. People has different interests. The other guy is going to Stockholm next week to see the Jussi Björling museum. I don’t really know who this guy Jussi is, but my guess is that he plays the violin. He turns out to be an opera-singer – well I’m not very cultural.

Mary has made small cookies for this day trip – and a long one it’s going to be. There is app. 7 km to Dún Aengus (sight no. 5). It take’s about 2 hours to get there through the small roads. I meet 2 cars, 3 bikes and a single tractor on the road, so not many people around today. I also pass a seal-colony (sight no. 8), where some seals lie down enjoying life. One of them believes he’s a dolphin, swimming around and jumping into the air.

And of course – all the way – there are stone fences and cows in case you feel a little lonely.

There are more people at Dún Aengus. Dún Aengus is a so-called semi-circular fort. It’s probably “semi” because it’s right out at the cliffs so if they didn’t make it semi, they should have built it over the water. It’s presumed to have been built be the Celtics about 2000 b.c. The inner circle is made out plenty layers of stone. Outside this circle there’s another one with a higher wall, to keep potential attackers away. So there has probably been a little society inside, but they did have a problem, because there was no drinking water on the place. How they have solved that one is a mystery. It’s a fantastic place at a fantastic location. Last time I was here it was raining cats and dogs. Today the weather is perfect. A little cloudy, but just as I reach the place the sun comes out.

You have to take a little care at the place. This is nature, and in nature there are no fences at the cliffs. I spend a few hours out here, before heading back the 7 km on foot to Kelly House.

View of Inishmore from Dún Aengus - a tiny village in the middle

Dún Aengus

Back home there is more traffic, because all the day-tours from Galway has arrived. They get toured on minibuses and carriages. Some of them are on hired bikes from Aran Bikes (sight no. 1 – and of course the publisher of the sightseeing-map). On one time back home there’s suddenly a traffic-jam. There is a carriage and 3 bikes in one direction – and a minibus and me in the other.

Down by seals some people are looking for them – they are supposed to be there – sight no. 8 can’t just disappear. But the tide is high, so the banks they are using are under water, and they have temporarily left for somewhere else. I’m back at Kelly’s at 4 pm – pretty much tired.

Dinner and pint is therefore only a short walk away – at Joe Watty’s pub.

Friday, September 14’Th

14 km’s walk yesterday was a bit on the long side – so today I will calm down a little. Today’s walk is for the highest point on Inishmore. It takes about an hour to get there. On the top I find sight no. 4 Dún Árann lighthouse. It’s not in use anymore, but there’s a great view from the spot. Just beside there’s another circular stone-fort named Dún Eochia. It’s not as big as Dún Aengus, but it’s totally circular, since there are no cliffs here. The number of tourists here is small. I think there’s about 8-10of us. It’s a bit off the beaten track since the minibuses and the carriages can’t get up here – you have to be on bike or by foot.

The walk down is really nice. I walk by footpaths along the stone-fences. The path is nice, but to bumpy for the bikes. They must jump off and walk. The path leads all the way to Kilronan. I think that’s another hour by foot.

Up at Dún Eochia

And down at Kilronan

Lunchtime is in Kilronan, before I head back for Kelly’s for a little relaxation.

Later there is time for a short walk in Kilronan and along the coast. You can see the tourist-season is close to finishing for this year. Most of the restaurants have closed down for the year, and most of the busses and carriages that awaits the arrival of the ferry at the quay must leave empty-handed. There are not enough tourists for everyone.

The locals and the tourists also seem to disagree on the weather. The local kids still go for a swim at the harbor, while the Italian tourists are wearing ski-jackets and hats.

Dinner is at a burger bar in Kilronan with a slot-machine. I don’t know how these machines work in this place, but nevertheless I leave with 10 Euros more than I put in the thing.

To Dublin