Irishmore Island © Pixie from he
The Aran Islands, with their magnificent wild terrain, display evidence of the years of battering by wind and water. The islands - Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer - lie about 30 miles (48km) out across the mouth of Galway Bay and are criss-crossed by miles of stone walls and dotted with some fine iron age archaeological sites. Ancient forts such as Dún Aengus on Inishmór Island, and Dún Chonchúir on Inishmaan Island, are some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland.
The islands were home to a number of ancient monasteries and some clocháns (dry-stone beehive huts from the early-Christian period) can still be found. The islands' isolation allowed Irish culture to survive here when it had all but disappeared elsewhere. Irish is still the native tongue, and until recently people still wore traditional Aran dress. The women still knit the famous Aran sweaters, which are now popular souvenirs for visitors; historically, each family used a different pattern in order to recognize fishermen drowned at sea. The islands are a haven for botanists and nature lovers because of their abundance of flora, fauna and nesting birds. Many people recognise the islands from the popular television show Father Ted, which was filmed there.
Transport: Ferries are available from Doolin in County Clare (Seasonal) or Rossaveal in County Galway (All Year)