Inishmore

Our little 9-seater plane

Inishmore – the largest of the Aran Islands

More than a tad windy!

The alarm was a rude awakening this morning! Have gotten used to the 8 or 8:30am get ups! And this whole 6:30am thing can just bugger off! All went smoothly in preparation – we had to downsize for our little 9-seater plane to Inishmore! It was quite nice travelling with just one suitcase instead of two!

Steps to Dun Aenghus

Stone wall and Nic…nearly there!

Nic and that looming cliff edge

Our drive to Connemara Airport was delightfully smooth and uneventful. We secured the car and presented ourselves at the little check in desk – where we had to take our turn on the scales (so they could decide where in the plane to put our big bottoms!). We had the back row, which probably meant that are bottoms have grown quite a bit since leaving Sydney, but also meant that our view of the island as we approached was impeded by the wings and propellers. But we were just happy to have a smooth take off and landing for our 8 minute flight! (The pilot was very impressive with the whole landing thing where we approached sideways due to the wind!

Don’t get too close to the edge!!

Edge of the fortification

Truly magnificent!

There was an airport shuttle bus to greet us and they took us straight to the Aran Islands Hotel to drop our bags before we began exploring. We walked the whole 5 minutes into Kilronan, the biggest town on the island, which is 15km long by 7.5km (at the widest point). We caught a ride with a bloke called John who was waiting for the ferry with his mini-bus (due 1 hour later). We got him to take us to Dun Aengus, and he went back to meet the ferry with plans to meet us after lunch at the little café about 20metres from the entrance the fort. He normally charges €10 pp, but with just the 2 of us and us not wanting to wait for the others coming on the ferry – €30. So glad we didn’t paid the extra and didn’t wait for the ferry – we snaffled the last of the morning sunshine for our moments at this momentous fort. AND there were only 5 other people there at the same time as us. Priceless!

John relaxing in the sun…and breeze!

Flowers and fort

Nature prevails!

The beauty and bleakness of Dun Aenghus were at loggerheads the whole time. Before arriving, it really was impossible to imagine the vast, barren landscape, but once there, all you can do is breathe, look and brace yourself (core on!) when near the edge of the cliff (no safety rails or anything, thank goodness – it would’ve completely spoilt the effect and the moment!). We spent about half an hour at the fort (with about 15 minutes walk to and from each way). It really was one of those momentous experiences of our many travels, one that we will both draw on and use as a reference point for future encounters with history and nature.

Our lunch time cafe – so glad it had a roaring fire inside!

The cemetery at the Seven Churches site

Kilronan

It was interesting to read the information panels about the fort in the little museum/ticket office. Having recently watched a one of the Coasttelevision episodes about this part of Ireland, I find it difficult to believe any of the other possible reasons in the museum for why the fort is a semi-circle right up against the cliff edge – the most logical is that some cataclysmic event (like an earthquake) happened, and half of the island fell into the sea. If you analyse this theory, it all makes sense – the island was once twice the size it is now, and Dun Aenghus was a typical hill fort of the time. It is the highest point of the island, providing the perfect defensive position. Not sure that the locals want to entertain this theory, though.

For all the Drama students out there – and, yes, I will bring some back for you!

The local shop

After our invigorating time at the fort, we descended, more than a tad windblown, and sought out food. We had a bowl of delicious homemade vegetable soup at the local café: Teach Nan Phaidi Café. Also tried the Irish cider (it’s ok, I prefer Tasmania’s Mercury), but the caramel slice (also homemade and called toffee slice here), was a winner – the caramel/toffee part really was more towards the condensed milk side of the spectrum than we would have it in Australian, but that was NOT a problem!

Does my bum look big in this field?

Our plans for the afternoon were thwarted somewhat due to a change in the weather – the afternoon rains were upon us, and after Driver John dropped us back at the hotel, we pretty much didn’t leave for the rest of the day. We did make an effort later to walk to another fort, but we only got 2 steps out the front door before it started to rain again, but since it was a 45 minute walk one way, we abandoned all hope and went back to blogging! At least we had visited the ‘big one’ – Dun Aenghus.

View from the hotel

One of the many boats being worked on before the season takes off

Dinner was a simple affair, but not boring – we had a Cajun salmon (a welcome bit of spice) and yet another goat’s cheese salad. Pleasant enough, and the wine was palatable, too. After the meal we moved into the foyer area to get more reliable wifi reception. There was a wedding planned for 2 days hence, and an entire extended family had taken over the hotel – we were the only ones not connected to the event.

View of Kilronan from the Inishmore airport

Now, I am sure that I will take this back when the little darlings are yelling and running and slamming doors when I am trying to sleep tonight, but I am (currently) loving the 3 generational hoard that are sharing our accommodation. Our first encounter in the hotel was with young Mr Four who rabbited on with us for quite a lengthy chat when we were depositing our bags – completely charming and captivating – the friendliness and hospitality is obviously in the genes! Later in the evening, a young father was walking towards me with one arm full of 2-and-a-half-year-old, the other arm full of 6-month-old, and I said, “You’ve got your hands full there!” His response, with a big grin, was, “Yeah, and isn’t it grand?!” Lovely attitude to parenthood!

Cottages nestled against the hillside

We managed to cram a lot into the evening hours (blogging, reading, chatting, planning), and left the foyer for our room at about 10:30pm – the music playing live in the restaurant next to us was 80’s classics, and it really wasn’t doing it for us this evening! The other guests partied on for quite some time, but luckily, we had a room at the end of a corridor, so we weren’t disturbed.

The flight out the next morning

About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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