Inishmore (Inis Mor, Arainn, Aranmore) is the biggest and most famous of the three Aran Islands. It has a population of about 900 people, but this can grow to far over a thousand in the busy summer months. It is a popular attraction with tourists, and the island has adjusted accordingly, tourism being one of the island's biggest industries (other industries include fishing and agriculture). There are many hostels, B&Bs, and even a hotel on the island, two bike rental companies, horse-drawn carts, and mini-busses. But despite the volume of tourists, it is surprisingly easy to find solitude on this rocky island. Just ask an islander, and they'd be happy to point out that, while everyone else may be off seeing Dun Aengus, Dun Duchathair is completely empty. Or that there are kilometers upon kilometers of cliffs that only an islander would know how to access, or even of its existence. Aranmore, then, is an island that is best experienced through exploration and with a healthy dose of curiosity, and it is only by leaving the beaten path that one may find some of the most beautiful areas of the island. So whether you're biking or walking, sitting in a pub or on a 2,000-year-old stone-age fort, Inis Mor is a rewarding destination, especially if you dig just a little deeper.
Sights and Activities
There is a plethora of sights to be seen on Inis Mor! Here are some of the more popular sights:
Iron Age Forts
Dun Aengus Cliffs
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- Dun Aengus (Dun Aonghasa) - This iron age ring fort is probably the most visited attraction on the island, and is also the only ring fort you must pay to see. Just because there is a flock of tourists and a fee shouldn't deter you, however. The fort is spectacular, and situated on the highest cliffs on the island. If you go early in the morning or at sunset, you may be able to avoid the tourists. The fee to get in is something like €1.50, and there is a mini-museum display in the entrance building explains the little that they know about the fort. If you really wanted to bypass the entrance area, it is apparently possible to reach Dun Aengus by walking along the edge of the cliffs, but it may be a difficult walk, and the fee is cheap anyway, and goes to a good cause (the upkeep of the fort).
- The Black Fort (Dún Dúchatair) - Another iron age ring fort, Dún Dúchatair is situated on a peninsula of cliffs and, unlike Dun Aengus, The Black Fort is free! Since nobody is monitoring it, you are free to climb on the sturdily built fort, or to sit on it while watching the ocean crash against the cliffs. The only catch is that The Black Fort is a tad harder to get to, the free maps you get on the island say there is a path, but the path degenerates into a field, and some low stone walls that you need to hop over (don't worry, there are usually stones beside them to step over the walls). Needless to say, you cannot bike the whole way. The area is gorgeous, however, with very pretty cliffs and a view of the Atlantic.
- Dún Eochla - Dún Eochla is the only perfectly ring fort on Inishmore, and is situated on the top of the biggest hill on Arainn, roughly in the center of the island. Nearby, there is a lighthouse and a small heritage park that requires a fee to enter, however the fort itself does not. If the gate is closed, walk around the park and there will be lower walls that can be jumped over. On a clear day, one can see both the Connemara Mountains and the Cliffs of Moher from this fort, and the view is spectacular. If you go up when a storm is coming, you can watch the clouds roll in and the view is gorgeous!
The Black Fort
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- Dún Eoghanachta - Dún Eoghanachta is and iron age fort on the western, more residential side of the island, and was constructed far away from the sea on a hill. There are several levels to this fort, with stone steps going between them. 
Other Sights and Activities
8* The Seven Churches (Na Seacht Teampaill) - The Seven Churches is actually a monastic ruin, and there are not actually seven churches. This ruin dates back to the 8th-11th centuries,
- St. Brendan's Church (Teampall Bheanain) - This church sits on top of a hill in Killeany, and is reputed to be the smallest church in the world, at 10.75 x 7ft. It is also notable for the fact that it is facing north-south rather than east-west.
- Kilmurvey Beach - When coming down the hill on your way to Killmurvey (or Dun Aengus), you will notice a beautiful little bay with a lovely sandy beach; this is Kilmurvey Beach! It is a popular spot for swimming.
- The Seal Colony - If you take the low road going west, you will eventually come to a small bay-like area with a pond right near it, and an old ruin to your left. This is Port Chorruch, and during low tide you will be able to see the seal colony that lives here. Be warned, you will not see them right away! They are often lying on the rocks and thus look exactly like a rock themselves! They are more obvious when playing in the water. There are binoculars that you can use (the kind you put coins in) and a small lookout point.
- The Wormhole - The wormhole is essentially a giant, perfectly rectangular hole in the ground (naturally formed) that fills up and empties according to the tides. You can find it by walking along the cliffs (east from Dun Aengus) or by following signs, however apparently the signs can be a bit misleading.
Cemetary in Killeany
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- The Blowhole - Out on the far east side of the island is the blowhole, a massive hole in the cliffs (don't fall in!) that, when tides are high, will shoot water out of it like a whale's blowhole (hence the name).
- Kilronan Village - The main town on the island, there are restaurants, pubs, and a pier! This is the main center for festivals, and likely where you will be staying.
- St. Edna's Household (Teaghlach Einne) - St. Enda established one of the earliest monasteries in Ireland in Killeany (or Cill Einne, literally 'Enda's Church'), and his household (or what remains of it) can be seen in Killeany's graveyard. St. Enda is said to be buried in this graveyard, which is still in use. The graveyard is especially peaceful with the nearby ocean and the constant breeze playing with the long grass.
Events and Festivals
- Patrun Weekend - This is a fun weekend where locals from Connemara come to the island and have sporting competitions (Islanders versus Connemara folk). There is live music, festivities, and currach racing! Summer (27th-29th of June in 2008)
- Friends of Ted Festival (Tedfest) - Tedfest is an excellent festival dedicated to celebrating the popular irish comedy 'Father Ted'. People usually dress up in costumes and there is usually live music. If you have never seen the show, you will want to after having attended this festival. February
The islands have a mild maritime climate with mild winters and cool summers. Rarely does it get really warm but frost is not common either.
One way to get to Inishmore is by boat, as detailed on The Aran Islands page. Aran Direct, Island Ferries, and Doolin Ferries are the three companies. The first two are the most popular, as Doolin Ferries is a little less reliable, and comes less often.
It is possible to fly to Inishmore with Aer Arann who operate several round trip a day from Connemara Airport.
There are 3 main roads that run down the island. The main Road cuts all the way through the island, lengthwise, and is the only road that does so. The second road, called The Low Road or TheMCoast Road, is (surprise surprise) below the Main Road, on the north side of the island. This goes from just outside Kilronan to Kilmurvey Beach, and goes along the coast. The third road called The High Road runs south of The Main Road from Kilmurvery, up and down the biggest hill on the island, and on to just outside of Kilronan.
Walking is an excellent way to get around! There are places that will require you to drop your bike and continue on foot, tramping through fields and hopping over stone walls, in order to get to them. Your feet are by far the most useful transporting tool you will take with you to the island.
There are two places to hire bikes, and both can be found just off the pier in Kilronan. The most popular place is to the right just as you get off the pier, and the second is underneath the Supermacs, which you will see to the left of the pier. Biking is the best way to get around the island because it is faster than walking, and more independant than bussing. Going down the many hills is very fun (although going up them is not).
There will be mini-busses for hire as you get off the pier. These also double as taxis if you don't feel like walking to your accommodation. Some give good bus tours, taking you to all the main sights on the island. Noel Mahon, for one, gives a very good bus tour. These would be best only if the weather is unpleasant or if you are on a tight schedule, however, as it is infinitely more fun to explore the island yourself!
There are a handful of pubs and places to drink on the island. Watty's has recently come into new management, but as of the summer of 2008, these were the ones that were open:
- Joe Watty's - Watty's serves an excellent lunch, and in the summer on Saturdays there is often a session going on outside (or inside if the weather is brutal). They also have some pretty fantastic bands (namely The Wilful, a local cover band) that come and play during the summer, and they host activities including poker and darts on the weekdays. Its located across from the road which takes you to the Artist's Hostel.
- b]Joe Mac's[/b] - Known locally as Mac's, this cozy, one-room pub is located underneath Kilronan Hostel. Despite its location, it is still a relatively local bar (many tourists opting for The American Bar or Watty's), and was even featured in the movie The Matchmaker! It is a quintessential irish pub, with a convivial atmosphere, friendly staff, and often filled with locals (or semi-locals).
- The American Bar - A favourite of the youth on the island, this bar is done up in an American Theme, after an old story about an islander who fell in love with an American girl. The American girl went away, promising to return, and he waited on that spot for her, even though she never came back. The bar now is generally quiet on weekdays, but on weekends it's often packed because of the discos it hosts. They host many activities, and there's a pool table. Its located right beside Bayview Restaurant, in Kilronan.
- The Hotel - Ostán Oileain Arainn, Inishmore's only Hotel, also has a bar. There is sometimes local music, and often the islanders host big celebrations here.
- Tigh Creigg's - Tigh Creigg's is something else. It is the kind of local pub in which the background noise is the rattling of an old fan, mingled in with the sometimes gaelic, sometimes english discussions of local farmers about their crops and animals. If you walk in, you will immediately be marked as a non-local as everyone in the pub looks up to see who came in. The locals are still friendly, just not as used to seeing tourists as the other establishments, as the pub is quite far out from most of the tourist areas, being close to Kilmurvey. This is probably the truest local pub there is on the island.
Public WiFi services are available in many cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels. They are also available on most Irish long-distance Intercity trains, some commuter trains and buses. Internet cafes are available in major urban areas, but are not as common as they once were, due to the growth of 3G data services and public WiFi. However, you will still find them in areas popular with tourists.
See also: International Telephone Calls
There are currently four main mobile phone operators dominating the Irish market:
- Vodafone (prefix 087 - GSM900/1800 - 3G 2100)
- O2 (prefix 086 - GSM900/1800 - 3G 2100)
- Meteor (prefix 085 - GSM900/1800)
- Three (prefix 083 - GSM900/1800 - 3G 2100)
Most European phones and operators will allow you to roam on Irish networks, however you should ensure before arrival that your phone can operate on the GSM900/1800 network and that your service provider has set you up to allow roaming. This is especially true for visitors from outside the Eurozone. You can also buy a cheap prepay SIM card if you have an unlocked handset. This can be considerably cheaper as it means that you will be assigned an Irish number which you can be called at during your trip and your outgoing calls are charged at normal Irish mobile rates.
Pay phones are fairly widely available (but becoming less so) and most take euro coins, prepaid calling cards and major credit cards.
The police service (An Garda Síochána) and fire services can be contacted by dialling 999 or 112 on any phone or mobile phone throughout the country.
An Post is the national postal service provider. They're generally open Monday to Friday, between 9:00am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm, and smaller post offices would also impose lunch-time closure. Half-day service is available on Saturday, from 9:00am to 1:00pm. The General Post Office (GPO) on O'Connell Street in Dublin is the main post office in Dublin, and it is open Monday to Saturday, from 8:00am to 8:00pm. The post offices are closed on Sunday and Bank Holiday. If you want to use private courier services for sending packages you can also use companies like DHL, UPS or TNT.