Sunday, August 16, 2009

In the Arans....

I've been blogless these past few days, and would
never have believed that I'd find a wi-fi connection
here in the Aran Islands, no less from the comfort
of my bed in the Kilmurvey House! (Along with the
ruins of a 9th century church in the back "yard"
just outside my window. Notice the fence
parts leaning up against it as well as a plastic
kayak and paint cans.)


We took a passenger ferry this morning to
Inis Mór, the largest of the three Arans --
about halfway through the 45 minute voyage
a young man walked around and handed out
blue plastic barf bags, which thankfully few people
found necessary to use. And thankfully, upon arrival
we were met with no rain, in spite of the dull silvery sky.

We piled into a front seat of a van/taxi to our hotel,
joining an island tour (to our delight!) and were
entertained by a talkative driver, whose nose-tip
sprouted a coarse crop of very wiry hairs.
(I was sitting RIGHT beside him.)

There are about 900 residents on the island,
three primary schools and one secondary school.
A small building houses a summer Irish-language
program for children. There are three Catholic churches
& one priest, who also serves as the priest
for the two smaller Aran Islands.
That's a heck of a lot of confessions to listen to.)

It's a rocky, wind-blasted piece of earth, with 7,000
miles of dry-stone walls. In fact, there seems to be
more stone on the island than dirt: everywhere
you look, there's either wall, another wall, or just flat rocks.
Wildflowers wedged in between stones and at the foot
of walls add bursts of color to the scrubbed landscape.

Our hotel is situated slightly less than a mile
below Dún Aonghasa, a semi-circular stone fort
built by Celtic Tribesmen in c.2000 B.C. --

We trekked up the gravel and then-rocky trail this afternoon,
with spectacular views of the myriad stone walls
on the not-too-distant hillside. What amazed me
more than anything (well, other than the fact that
we were standing in a 4,000+ year-old-structure)
was that there were no fences or barriers of any kind
on the cliff-edges -- and in that wind, it is not inconceivable
that one could blow off the precipice to certain death
on the rocks hundreds of feet below. I admit that I did
shimmy myself up pretty damn close to the edge,
on my knees, then was afraid to stand back up, thinking
that I might lose my balance, and, well, uh, my life.
But no. I survived, and managed to snap a few shots
from the brink of near-annihilation --

Outside the walls were chevaux-de-frises, Medieval
defensive obstacles. They looked like stone graveyards --


So! We bid adieu to Carrowholly and Westport:

Goodbye foals lying in the pasture.
Goodbye mares standing over the foals.
Goodbye mown hayfields salt & peppered
with crows and gulls.
Goodbye Crovinish.
Goodbye fuschias.
Goodbye greenfinches and foxes.
Goodbye to Sage, our favorite restaurant.
Goodbye to wi-fi at Dunnings Cyber-Pub.
Goodbye Carrowholly Nettle Cheese.
Goodbye neighbors: Ian, Meena, Pat, Ann,
Declan, Mary, Peter & Co.
Goodbye Mayo News on Tuesdays.
Goodbye solitary beach walks.
Goodbye bladderwrack. (Which is not an intestinal
Goodbye gorse.
Goodbye to gales and sideways rain.
Goodbye Loose Oxe Tongue.
Next Year!


  1. ah, we biked all over that island, once upon a time.

    i will miss your irish posts. but until next year...

    and your seattle posts are lovely as well.

  2. Love the cheveux de frises--shall look for them next time. And is this THE Dun Aengus?

  3. awwwwwwwww, I don't wanna leave!!!!!!