Aran Islands, Ireland

Trip Start Jun 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 04, 2008

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

I left the stag boys to continue on with their debauchery and jumped a ferry to the Aran Islands, situated west of Galway in Galway Bay. There are three islands, I was on the biggest and most touristy (although I think that term is used rather liberally, since the island was pretty quiet) Inishmore or Aran (big). The island is of great interest to anthropologists and other "science" types because of all the ancient sites and also because it is one of the few places in modern Ireland where Gaelic or Irish is still spoken on a daily basis (as a point of reference, only one of the stag party boys spoke fluent gaelic, although most spoke at least a little. Also interesting, one of them said that he would send his kid to gaelic school, so I guess what I read about it becoming "trendy" might be true.) Anyway, the Aran Islands are also famous for their Aran sweaters - they even have a whole museum where they'll tell you everything you could ever want to know about Aran sweaters and even sell you one... (imagine that!)

Anyway, the islands are also pretty quiet so I just kinda chilled, although I did learn from this Italian guy that "Chicago" in Italian doesn't have a very nice connotation... FYI Chicagoans. I also had some pasta prepared by real Italians, and got quite a kick outta the fact that they asked me if we had pasta in Chicago...

The next day I "hired" a bike a set off to explore the island's many historical sites. In retrospect I think that maybe I am not so much a historical site sort of person (give me art or architecture any day) so I didn't get quite as jazzed as say my roommate, an archaeology student from Canada, but it was still a pleasant way to spend the day. I was totally obsessed with these dry stone walls that were everywhere.  They literally were just huge stones stacked on top of each other but they wouldn't budge. It was crazy. I saw Na Seacht dTeampaill or Seven Churches which is a prehistoric site of two churches and some living quarters. Clochan na Carraige (Beehive Hut) is where monks would have lived and it really does look just like a beehive. Finally, I saw the main site on Inishmore, Dun Aonghasa or Dun Angus. It is a prehistoric stone fort enclosed by three stone walls, on the edge of the cliff.  Again, some were totally enthralled, I wasn't exactly, but just thought it was cool.

After that I hopped back on my bike for the ride home though the countryside overlooking the sea (which in some places looked like the Caribbean - Crazy!!) Not a bad days work...

Next up, Doolin, The Burren and the Cliffs of Mohr...
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