Journey to Inis Oírr
Although many have heard of the Isle of Man or Skellig Michael* (where one of Star Wars sequels was filmed), few have heard of the Aran Islands, a group of three tiny islands off the southwest coast of mainland Ireland.
This little family is comprised of Inis More (the big island), Inis Meáin (the middle island) and Inis Oirr (the little island).
Although the majority of the people we spoke with in Ireland and Northern Ireland speak primarily English, the Aran Islands maintain Irish as their primary language! This made it a fascinating place to visit (especially in contrast to the very familiar-feeling cities like Dublin and Galway), and felt like a glimpse into the origins of civilization in this area. After all, evidence of human settlement on Inis Oirr (pronounced ee-nish-eer) has been found dating back to 1500 BC.
We took a small local ferry from Galway to the little island accompanied by some local older gentlemen who had clearly enjoyed a number of Guinnesses before boarding the little ferry boat. It was quite windy when we departed, but I didn’t think much of it until we were out on the open sea. As we rocked violently back and forth over the whitecaps being stirred up by the wind, I tried to answer the English/Irish salad of questions coming from the friendly, drunk men – “what is your name?” “do you have a boyfriend?” while also trying not to vomit all over myself, the boat, and poor Lauren sitting next to me.
Rob, Kyle, and Joe opted to stay outside on the back deck of the boat, imbibing and laughing as they were tossed from side to side. I’d recommend the fresh-air approach (with the addition of a solid surface to cling to, of course) to any other newbies who want to avoid debilitating sea sickness.
We FINALLY stepped back onto land in Inis Oirr, and even amid my sea-sick stupor, the view was striking. The island was certainly not scenic in the classical sense of lush greenery, waterfalls, or magnificent cliffs, but it had a haunting emptiness about it. The overwhelming lack of infrastructure, of people, of cars, of electricity was simultaneously odd and wonderful. We made our way up a small path from the tiny pier to the Inis Oirr hotel. We collected the keys and walked down another little trail to our home for the next few days, tucked among the other dozen-or so houses on the island.
*The Isle of Man is located off the northeast coast of Northern Ireland. Skellig Michael is closer to Dingle, but is basically inaccessible to the public now.