Ireland’s Islands

Ireland is an island. That much I knew before we went there. What I didn’t know is that it’s the third largest island in Europe. (Maybe that random factoid will come in handy one day.) But Ireland also claims about 80 islands of its own. What do you call islands that belong to an island? I still don’t know that.

Graves with a view on Achill Island, County Mayo.

Ireland’s islands are mostly very small. Some are not even inhabited. We visited one that is, though by fewer than 300 people. The residents of that particular island call it Inis Oírr. The English name is Inisheer. It’s the smallest of a grouping of three islands in County Galway called the Aran Islands.

The shore at Inisheer.

You get to Inisheer by passenger ferry. The trip takes about 15-20 minutes. Then you wander around admiring the ruins and the weird, medieval-looking property lines. You can also listen to the locals chit-chat in Irish. The Aran Islands are in one of the relatively few districts in Ireland – known collectively as the Gaeltacht – where Irish is still the primary language, not English.

The selfie sluts were in full bloom on the ferry ride.
Who decided to divvy up the land this way?
The menu at our Inisheer lunch pub was in Irish first, English second. We hadn’t seen that before.
Nice views of the Cliffs of Moher from the ferry.

We also visited Ireland’s largest island, Achill. You arrive on Achill Island more conventionally, by bridge. Among other attractions, Achill Island features one of the most beautiful beaches George and I have ever set foot on (and we’ve been on quite a few beaches). Once again, unfortunately, our pictures don’t do the place justice.

Keel Beach as seen from the mountain road that takes you there.
The view at sea level.

There are many other islands worth visiting in Ireland. (Except they’re not exactly in Ireland, if you get what I mean.) We look forward to returning and seeing more of them.

A castle (of all things!) looks out from Achill Island towards the mainland (which, to be clear, is also an island).

In between our visits to Inisheer and Achill, we spent some time in Galway, the Republic of Ireland’s fourth-largest city. Galway has a lively, youthful, artistic vibe. I would say it’s Ireland’s most Bohemian city.

A pop-up light show in Galway during the city’s annual arts festival.
The Spanish and Caoċ Arches, part of fortifications built in Galway almost half a millennium ago.
What time is Guinness time in Galway? Why, pint o’clock, of course! (All of Ireland is in the same drinking time zone.)
The view of Galway’s Salmon Weir from our breakfast table.
One of Galway’s many friendly faces.
North of Galway lies the pretty little village of Cong, where you can take a lovely nature walk just beyond the city center.

In Ireland, it can be hard to choose between spending time in urban settings versus out in nature. The people are so friendly that you want to be around them as much as possible and soak up their passion for living. But sometimes a lonely, peaceful setting can be just as wonderful. A place where you can hear yourself think. Or better yet, where you can try not thinking at all.

I knew I left that somewhere.
In Ireland, it’s better to be a horse than a pig.
I guess the final destination is always the lonely, peaceful variety.
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12 Comments

  1. Joan Gavin

    Again, I almost felt like I was traveling with Craig and George..(if only) The photos were phenomenal and the descriptions fantastic. I’ve visited many of the areas mentioned and Craig’s descriptions took me back. Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      You’re too kind! Thank you!

      Reply
  2. Mike Dieffenbach

    Hey Marv,

    Your photos are great, though Iran-land is much greener than I thought it would be given it’s location in the arid mountains of Western Asia. Have you and George eaten much falafel on your trip? By the way, where is George, I haven’t seen him in any of your photos. Is he camera shy or are you mad at him? Is he even with you? If so, since you are in Iran-land, please take a photo of George in Persepolis dressed as the ayatollah.

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      Believe it or not, I did eat falafel in Ireland. It was delicious. And George is in lots of the pictures. You just need to put on your 4D glasses.

      Reply
  3. Pam

    What an amazing adventure and photos! I especially love the cottage picture. From your photo descriptions, looks like it might have been located in the village of Cong. Was that place even inhabited? I feel like if you peeked inside you would see the seven dwarfs milling about…

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      Thanks for your kind words! Cong is definitely inhabited. The day we were there, a bunch of young ‘uns and their parents were all dressed up at the church for first communion. I would have snapped a few pics of the event, but I didn’t want to be accused of being a pedophile. ?

      Reply
  4. Dang

    Craig,

    I love your photography skills too. The pictures are really beautiful! Thanks for the ride-along on your trip.

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      I take full and total credit for all the best pictures on this blog…even the ones taken by George…which is a lot of them.

      Reply
      1. Dang

        Haaa. Good ol’ George. Thanks George

        Reply
        1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

          But, no! Thank me! I take credit, dammit!

          Reply
  5. Bill Manley

    Great pics! So glad you both enjoyed Ireland!

    Reply
    1. Craig David Singer (Post author)

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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