In all the excitement of the last couple of weeks, I have completely forgotten to add posts for two of our Galway experiences, so here they come. The first of these was a visit to Inis Oirr.
Inis Oirr is the smallest of a group of three islands off the west coast of Ireland called the Aran Islands. It is mostly low-lying and exposed to Atlantic storms but we were lucky enough to visit on a day which had some sun (there was cloud and rain as well but it cleared up as the day progressed).
The island is very stony but the islanders have made a virtue of necessity and arranged the stones into fences and in some cases, houses. In the next photo, do you see the little black ‘bump’ at the end of the island, just before you hit the sea? This was a form of navigation. Sailors took a sighting from this and against another tall stone construction on the island, and this let them know they were in line for the harbour. Of course, there were many tragedies as well in the traditional curraghs (boats made of canvas and tar) that the fishermen used. It was said that the islanders deliberately did not learn to swim – the sea was too cold for them to survive for long so they thought a quick drowning was preferable. A plaque in a photo below commemorates just one such case.
Strangely, just as we were to find a castle in Kilkenny owned by Bruce family cousins by marriage, we found another one here with cuzzy connections, this time it was the 14th century O’Brien’s Castle. Although they only owned it for a couple of hundred years and then the O’Flaherty mob took it from them by force.
This is the island that appears in the beginning credits for TV’s Father Ted and we were able to walk right past the shipwreck that features in the opening seconds. We thought we saw Mrs Doyle in the distance, but couldn’t be sure.
We end with a slightly bizarre find in a garden shed just up from the beach – Man of Aran fudge. Well, we can say that we have tasted fudge all over the world and we have never come across any as good as this, ever. Chatting with the shopkeeper, we were delighted to find out that his cousin has another stall in St George’s arcade in Dublin, so we have subsequently beaten a path to it, and will continue doing so, we think. The choc-orange is possibly our favourite although there are many good flavours.
The other notable local product, of course, is the Aran sweater with its chunky style of knitting. We had already purchased one each, doing the touristy thing early in our time in Dublin, so did not follow up with the little craft cottages on the island.