As a highly sensitive person or introvert, it can be difficult to find a place to truly relax and recharge from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Where can you go that's quiet and beautiful, where you can unwind and escape it all?
The Aran Islands would be one place to consider, as well as the whole west coast of Ireland. The stunning sunsets, clear blue waters, and breathtaking views of the surrounding islands make the Aran Islands an ideal destination for anyone looking to escape the modern world and explore what Ireland might have looked like a hundred years ago.
About the Aran Islands
There are three islands: Inis Mór (Inishmore), Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), and Inis Oírr (Inisheer), which means the big island, the middle island, and the east island. The three islands have a population of about 1,300.
The largest of the three islands, Inis Mór, is home to a stunning landscape of dramatic cliffs, ancient stone walls, forts, secluded beaches, and some of Ireland's best archeological sites. The first time I visited Inish Mór, I was fourteen and on a weekend school trip. Coming from Dublin, It felt as if I had gone back in time. I loved it.
Visiting years later as an adult, feeling the same awe and wonder, was amazing. And since no cars were allowed on the islands, it was amazingly quiet! Everything an HSP or introvert could ask for.
They speak Irish on the Aran Islands
The islands also have a unique culture; while the majority of Ireland speak English as a first language, on the islands, they speak Irish as a first language and English second.
The Gaelic language in Ireland – Gaeilge, or Irish as it's known locally – is a Celtic language and one of “the oldest and most historic written languages in the world.” The west of Ireland, where the Aran Islands are located, is called the Gaeltacht or the Irish-speaking part of Ireland.
The Gaeltacht covers large areas of counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, and Kerry and sections of counties Cork, Meath, and Waterford. Six of Ireland's inhabited islands are also in the Gaeltacht.
Many teenagers from the east part of Ireland would go to the Gaeltacht for a month or two over the summer, stay with an Irish-speaking family and attend day classes in Irish.
Everyone would go to a Céilí (pronounced kay-leigh) at night, where you would have traditional Irish music and dancing. I didn't get to do it, but my sister did and thought it was amazing and so much fun.However, it was very strict, and they would send you home if you were caught speaking English. That was a good thing; you must immerse yourself in understanding any language better.
So, as you venture to the west of Ireland, you will experience a strong Irish culture, hear the Irish language, and listen to Irish traditional music. How brilliant is that?
What To Do on Inis Mór (the biggest of the Aran Islands)
Kilronan (Cill Rónáin – meaning Ronan's Abbey) is the town and located next to the harbor where the ferry docks.
In the village there are several great restaurants where you can experience traditional Irish cuisine in pubs with lots of charm.
You will also find the famous Aran Sweater Market. Aran sweaters were handmade by the women of the island for the fishermen. They were traditionally made with the natural color of the sheep's wool, an off-white cream color.
Today Aran sweaters are more fashionable and not as itchy as they used to be. You can buy them in different colors and patterns; they are unbelievably warm! I purchased this long navy one that goes to my knees and has a hood; it's like a sweater coat.
Also, visit the Visitor Centre. This interactive museum offers lots of information about the history and culture of Inishmore.
The top place to visit on Inis Mór is Dun Aengus, a prehistoric fortress that sits atop a 300-foot cliff and is one of the most spectacular sights on the island. The views of the Atlantic Ocean and cliffs are stunning, and it's lovely to find a quiet spot to see and be by yourself.
The fort is believed to be constructed around 1100 BC, making it one of Ireland's oldest and most impressive archaeological sites.
Archaeologists think that the fort was used as a defensive structure and a place of worship and has been associated with the Cult of the Sun. The site is now a protected monument, and visitors can take guided tours of the fort.
Be careful not to go near the cliff's edge because the island's winds can be extremely strong. There is no safety barrier, and some people like to sit on the edge, which is completely nuts!
Rent a Bike
Aran Bike Hire has a wide range of modern bikes to suit every age group, from novice to experienced.
It's important to note that biking in Inishmore can be more strenuous than on other islands. The terrain is hilly, and the roads can be winding.
Make sure you are prepared for the challenge and don't push yourself too hard, and you may want to pay a bit extra to get an electric bike to make life easier.
It will take approximately 40 minutes to cycle from Kilronan to Dun Aengus, but it's a wonderful way to experience the island, and I highly recommend it.
Horse & Cart
Horse and cart tours are available and usually leave from Kilronan. Along the way, visitors can see stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and get a glimpse into the lives of the island's residents. The tour usually lasts about two hours, and visitors can also stop for a bite to eat or for a quick walk along the beach. It's a fun way to tour the island.
The Seven Churches
There are actually only two churches on this site; one dates from around the 7th or 8th century, and the other from the 15th century.
An odd name as no one is quite sure why it's called the Seven Churches or Na Seacht Tempaill. You will see ruins surrounding the churches, and it is thought these were small dwellings for pilgrims visiting.
The island is also home to several stunning beaches, including Kilmurvey Beach and Rossaveel Beach. Both beaches are great places to relax and enjoy the fresh sea air, and Kilmurvey Beach is also great for swimming.
Several walking trails wind through the landscape for those who want to explore the island further. The trails lead to the top of the cliffs and offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding islands.
When I visit Inish Mor, I love to take long walks along the beaches and cliffs, soaking in the island's beauty.
The best part about visiting Inish Mor is the peace of being away from the noise and busyness of everyday life. It's the perfect place for introverts to spend time alone and recharge.
How to Get There
Most people visit Inis Mór, the biggest of the three islands. You can go for a day trip around the island or stay overnight. I recommend staying overnight so you can have dinner in the local pub and get a deeper experience.
A day trip also works; you can see most things on the island, have a lovely lunch and then travel back to the mainland.
Keep in mind that if the weather is bad, the air and ferry options will change, so it's best to check the day of travel to ensure your choice is still at the same time and good to go.
- Fly with Aer Araan – The airport for Aer Araan is called Connemara Airport, which is 19 miles outside Galway and a 30min drive. The flight takes 10mins, and it's a lovely way to arrive! It's a very small plane, and you have an amazing view of everything as you fly over the airport to land. Aer Arann also has flights to the other islands, Inis Meáin (Inis Maan) and Inis Oírr (Inisheer).
- Travel by ferry with Aran Islands Ferries – the ferry departs from Rossaveel and will take about 40mins to reach the port on Inis Mór. They also offer a shuttle service from downtown Galway, which would take about 40mins.
Inis Mór Map
How to Get There
& When to Go
Fly with Aer Arann to all three of the islands. Catch the flight from Connemara Airport, which is 19 miles outside Galway and a 30min drive.
Take Aran Island Ferries from Rossaveal in Galway to all three islands. The trip takes 40-minutes from Rossaveal to Inishmore (the biggest island). Check the times in advance as they might change due to the weather.
No cars are allowed on the island which makes it so quiet!
Best Time to Visit
Shoulder-season, Spring, and Fall are the best times for HSPs. In winter the weather can be extreme and in summer it can be unbearable with so many tourists visiting. At any time of the year the weather can be bad in Ireland. I would not recommend visiting if the weather is bad. This trip is for a nice day with no rain.
Wear layers as the weather is unpredictable.
Irish is the national language; however, everyone speaks English.
Euro in the Irish Republic.
English Pound in Northern Ireland.
Cash | Cards
Most places accept credit cards but always carry cash. Use Visa or Mastercard with no foreign transaction fees. ATMs in Ireland are called Cashpoint and are the best way to get cash.
The standard voltage in Europe is 230 V; buy a travel adapter before leaving the US.
999 – Call the emergency services by dialing 999 from a mobile or fixed phone line.
EU Emergency Number
Dialing 112 from any country in the European Union will connect you to emergency services – police, fire, and ambulance. Dialing 112 is free from any mobile phone, landline, or payphone.
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