Inis Mór is the largest of the Aran Islands and is connected to Galway City by a daily service from Aran Islands Ferries. The spacious modern ferry takes almost 400 people in comfort. Every day at 09.30 AM it sets off to Inis Mór at the start of its journey around the three islands on the Wild Atlantic Way, including Inisheer and Inis Meáin.
Day and Night on Inis Mór – Aran Islands
Visitors can spend about 4.5 hours exploring the island before the return trip to Galway via the towering Cliffs of Moher. However, if you stay overnight, you can have an experience that will feel like you have been away for days.
Tours and Things to do in Aran Islands
When you arrive at the Inis Mór ferry port there are minibus tours, bicycles, horses and traps to help you discover the island. We took a tour with John O’Donnell in his minibus around the island. On our trip, he pointed out places of interest and told some of the stories of the island both, past and present.
Our first stop was at Teach Nan Phaidí in Kilmurvey, it is the most picturesque cottage ever. The outside is festooned with awards, so you know the food is going to be great, and it is. Expect homemade soup, traditional scones and apple tart; you can have a glass of wine or beer too.
Fortified by the great food we set off on the uphill walk to the stunning Dun Aonghus Fort. It is a bit challenging, but not too tough. The views are incredible, you have to wonder about the people who built this stone fort around 1,000 BC. The sheer drop on the cliffside is dizzying.
Our journey then brought us to the far end of the island to see an old graveyard and views of the tiny Brannock Islands. It must have been a good day at sea for the seals, as they were missing when we passed the seal colony.
The next day we headed to the other end of the island on bicycles hired by Aran Islands Bike Hire. The weather was glorious and it was a lovely cycle along the coast. We even met a friendly donkey.
However, the most beautiful and haunting part of this trip was the stone memorials along the roadside, mostly ivy-covered, we did wonder who they were to remember. It might seem ghoulish, but the graveyard at Killeany was worth visiting. Here is the tiny church and grave of Saint Enda who died in 535AD. The graveyard is grassy and overlooks a tranquil bay.
Where to Stay in Aran Islands?
Our visit coincided with a busy summer season on Inis Mór and a big wedding party of Boston Irish families. We stayed in separate accommodations, me in Portaran House, an Airbnb property run by a husband-and-wife couple. It is a beautifully renovated house with a stylish Scandinavian feel.
My friend, Elizabeth stayed in a more traditional B&B, Ard Mhuiris, and it was quickly apparent why it has an excellent rating on Tripadvisor.com. It was very clean and comfortable and the full Irish breakfast got the thumbs up, especially for the views overlooking the sea.
I stayed in a lovely 6-bedroom AirBnB property Portaran House, about ten minute walk from Kilronan. The house is run by the husband and wife team, Sokha and Kevin and is very stylish with a Scandinavian feel. There were interesting pieces of art to see and a series of international posters from the famous “Man of Aran” film.
While on Inis Mór I went to see the Aran Islands glamping site at Frenchman’s Bay, looking towards Galway. It is a beautiful site and the pods and cabins can accommodate 2 – 4 people in comfort. Each one has its own kitchen area with a sink, fridge and microwave, see here.
There are a number of nice shops in Kilronan and at Kilmurvey where you can buy local handknits, art, cards, candles, seaweed products, Aran Island cheese and quality souvenirs. The Spar is also a good stop for supplies, deli food and maybe a lucky Lotto ticket.
Where to Eat in Aran Islands?
Ti Joe Wattys Bar and Restaurant
One of the most popular places to eat and listen to music is Tí Joe Wattys in Kilronan. Here you can expect the freshest food and great service. The daily specials are always one to look out for, some days there is freshly-caught lobster, oysters and crab on the menu. After dinner, there is music most evenings. The Aran Islands have a great music tradition and it is great to see young people playing, see here.
This year Joe Wattys added a marquee beside the restaurant and on Monday and Tuesday nights during the summer, their son Padraig Jack has a music concert called “Making Sand”. At the weekends the marquee is used for the newly founded Aran Art Market, where visitors can buy pieces so art created on the island. Follow Aran Art Mart on Facebook here.
Bayview Restaurant – Kilronan
The beautiful blue-painted Bayview Restaurant is a beacon in Kilronan, you can see it right across the bay. There is a lovely collection of Aran Islands-related artworks on the walls. By the sea, what else can you expect except excellent chowder, seafood, fish and chips and great services? See here.
Aran Island Ferries Galway City Service on board Saoirse na Farraige, which is Ireland’s largest domestic passenger vessel runs until Sunday the 26 September cruising from Galway City Docks to Inis Mór and the Cliffs of Moher.
The Aran Island Ferries service from Rossveal runs all year round to all three of the Aran Islands. The award-winning, Aran Island Ferries is the largest and longest-established family-owned ferry operator to all three of the Aran Islands.