Saturday, September 12, 1998
The plan for today was to visit the Aran Islands. After breakfast we went down to the wharf to catch the ferry. It took a while to find. While we driving around we passed the "Spanish Arch." We finally found a place to park in a ramp. This cost us £8 ($12 USD). We walked the four or five blocks to the ferry and arrived just in time. We purchased our tickets in the office on the dock. The ferry also operates as a freight carrier.
Our tickets cost £12.50 each ($18 USD). I later learned that there are several other options in visiting the islands. There are ferry's that leave from Rossaveel which only take thirty minutes to reach the islands. You can also fly to the island for £29 and take the ferry back, for a little more fly round trip, and for £45 , you can fly over and spend the night in a B&B on the island. You can also buy tickets at the tourist office in town.
We boarded the ferry with about 100 or so other people. As we headed for the Islands the waves increased in size. Soon the boat was swaying up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, well...you get the picture. Nearly half the people became seasick and someone told me that the lower gallery looked like a pea soup food fight had taken place. I came close three times but manage to fight it down.
After a three hour trip we arrived at the Inishmore. Yes, three hours! Normally it takes two but they had slowed the boat down due to the roughness of the waves. At the docks was a line of minibuses with their drivers doing the hard sale to get you on their tour. I, being the one to always bargained, jumped into the first bus in line. It cost us £5 ($7.50 USD) each. The driver takes you around the island to many interesting sites while giving you a running commentary on the history of the place. We visited Dun Aengus Fort, saw the house used in the film "The Man of Aran", and a site known as "The Eight Churches." This area contains eight small churches that are now in ruins.
The tour was interesting. So was talking with the other tourist on the bus. At Dun Aengus we were let off and given two hours to walk the trail to the fort and back again. This proved to be just enough time. The fort is a series of half concentric circles. Each circle begins and ends at a cliff face that is several hundred feet above water. The views from the fort are marvelous. There is a wonderful view of the island from which you can see three quarters of the seven thousand miles of rock walls contained on this small ten square mile rock.
The Aran Islands are actually an extension of the Burren. Jody, Sallie and I walked down the cliff edge giving us a chance to examine some of these interesting rock formations. The ground was made of huge flat rocks through which countless crevices went down to unknown depths. The rocks are very porous and easily broken. This was proved by Sallie when she dropped a large flat rock on the ground and it broke into several pieces. Making our way back to the trail we hopped the wall and walked back down to a restaurant near the parking lot.
At the restaurant I enjoyed a delicious bowl of vegetable soup. I believe that there is a law in Ireland that states, "Soup Du Jour must always be Vegetable Soup." It was good so I wasn't complaining. We were soon on the bus heading for the next stop. The tour ended back in the small village where the ferry docks. We still had an hour which gave us plenty of time to shop.
After shopping we walked back out to the dock and was first in line to get on the Ferry when it arrived. This way we got seats in the back of the boat which I assumed would give us a smoother ride. In fact, the trip back was extremely smooth and actually relaxing. We sat, talked, and joked with an elder couple from California, two German college girls, a Japanese man, and a couple of real life Irish citizens.
Back in Galway we were very tired and very hungry. I had heard Galway was the place for seafood and this is what I wanted. We walked block after block looking for seafood. Many places had a dish or two advertised on their menu's but I wasn't impressed. Eventually, we were so tired we stopped at a Chinese restaurant. The food was good but the service was terrible. Several people that were seated after us were served before anyone even came to take our order.
After supper we slowly made our way back to the car. In one small shop I stopped and purchased my cola fix...ahhhhh..... We piled into the car and wearily drove back to the B&B (the same place we had stayed the previous night). Miracles still do happen as we arrived without making a single wrong turn.
This was another fabulous day. I plan on visiting the Aran Islands again if I am ever in Ireland. Next time I will try to spend more time and would love to spend the night. There are a couple of pubs on the Islands that provide entertainment. On the islands we had also seen seals basking in the sun.