Throwback Thursday – Ireland: The Aran Islands!

Where: Aran Islands
When: May 2013, part of our 10-day trip around Ireland
Hotel: Imperial Hotel Galway
Why the Aran Islands: After bouncing around Ireland, it was nice to get a chance to stay two nights in one place, and Galway was the perfect choice. Not only was Galway awesome (see last Throwback Thursday post), but it afforded us the opportunity to take a day trip out to one of the three Aran Islands, which are only about a 40-minute ferry ride away from Galway. We opted to only spend the afternoon on Inishmore (Inis Mór), which is the largest of the three islands, but looking back – we really should have spent the whole day! We caught the 1 p.m. ferry to the island, but it only gave us a couple of hours on the island as the last ferry out was at 5 p.m. As we were reminded many times by our tour guide, John, we really should have gotten there earlier to be able to see everything on the island. And even though it is small, it definitely is worth an entire day!

On our way to Inishmore!

On our way to Inishmore!

The Trip: We took the Aran Island Ferry (aranislandferries.com) out to the Inishmore – it was 25E per person for a round trip ticket and it was worth it. The ride out was beautiful – although very, very windy!!

The ferry we took out to the island - not to crowded so we all were able to get good seats.

The ferry we took out to the island – not to crowded so we all were able to get good seats.

Johnny and me braved the winds on the ride out!

Johnny and I braved the winds on the ride out!

I was scared that little sailboat was going to tip over!

I was scared that little sailboat was going to tip over!

Once we had gotten to the island, we made plans to take a Trap and Pony tour – yes, a carriage ride pulled by a cute horse! Now, there are companies on the island that offer the same ride, but we opted to go with Trap and Pony by John (https://www.facebook.com/InisMorPonyAndTrapToursWithJohn) He was a one-man show that knows the island like the back of his hand – probably because he was born and raised on the island (literally – we saw the house where he was born and raised, it was right next door to the house he lives in now.) If you visit the Aran Islands, don’t hesitate to book a trip with John. He was so concerned about the fact that we wouldn’t have time to see the island that he called our hotel a couple of times to tell us to catch the earlier ferry. Sadly, we never received those messages, but he was right. We had to pick and choose what we saw – we missed Dun Aengus (the #1 tourist attraction on Inishmore – Trap and Pony with John is #2!), but we figured because we had seen the Cliffs of Moher, we had a pretty good idea of what we would see at Dun Aengus. Instead, we enjoyed the sites around the island – the pretty landscape, the shore where seals sun themselves and we left plenty of time to shop! We had been saving our Irish wool buying until we got to the Island, so we were not missing out on our chance to pick up some of the warm goods! (And in Germany – those wool socks and wool scarf have come in handy!!)

Signs in Gaelic and English

Signs in Gaelic and English

One of the ruins on the island!

One of the ruins on the island!

I love these stone cottages - still waiting for John to buy me one!!

I love these stone cottages – still waiting for John to buy me one!!

Our horse on the tour with the gorgeous landscape in the background!

Our horse on the tour with the gorgeous landscape in the background!

We thought the stone fences had some big meaning, but really - the areas were fenced off for grass to grow so the animals can feed! :-)

We thought the stone fences had some big meaning, but really – the areas were fenced off for grass to grow so the animals can feed! 🙂

The group!

The group!

One of my favorite photos and spots from Ireland - it was really that pretty!!

One of my favorite photos and spots from Ireland – it was really that pretty!!

The coast as we were leaving - we spent a lot of time and money in the wool shops before heading out!

The coast as we were leaving – we spent a lot of time and money in the wool shops before heading out!

Final Impressions: Definitely worth the day trip – but only if you take the Trap and Pony Ride with John. His hospitality (he included warm blankets for us so we weren’t too cold even though the wind was freezing!) and his knowledge of the island really made the trip. Another one of my favorite destinations on the trip!

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