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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 11
England / Scotland / Ireland


On the coast of Ireland  
Day 13
Galway - Aran Islands

Woke to a blustery, moody, misty morning. Enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Abacus, then we visited with Louise and her dad Noel and then jumped into our tiny Nissan Micro and zipped through Galway City, then southwest along the coastline, until we arrived at the tiny Aer Arann airport. There seems to be a gale blowing, and the sea is foamy with whitecaps, but the flight attendant laughed and explained that this is normal weather. Carol and I just looked at each other. This seven-minute flight over to the Aran Islands promises to be memorable.

Our plane from Galway to the Aran Islands
Our pilot was amazing - the crosswind was horrendous but we made it
Coming into Innishmore, the main island

And we were not disappointed. Carol said it perfectly, it was better than an E-ticket ride at Disneyland. We landed (hard) on Innishmore Island and as I deplaned, I hugged the pilot. Somehow he approached the narrow runway on Innishmore somewhat sideways due to the strong easterly wind (I remember thinking that if he lands this way we are certainly going to tip this plane over) but at the last second he straightened out and we landed perfectly. I was beyond amazed. All eight of us passengers were speechless. The pilot was too, I think.

We made it!!!

We immediately found a mini-tour bus full of young folks from Italy and our driver/guide, Michael Hernon, who was Mr. Personality and quite knowledgeable about Aran life. We were treated to a wonderful tour of the island on a blustery, gray day.

Michael Hernon guides our tour bus down the tiny narrow roads of Innishmore
Typical house on Innishmore
Stone walls everywhere on Innishmore

The island is almost entirely limestone, so for hundreds of years, the stone has been cut to clear the land and piled into hundreds upon hundreds of walls. The stones are loose-fitting, with no mortar, so that the intense and incessant winds blow through the gaps, lessening the pressure and therefore keeping the walls intact.

Typical construction of a stone wall on the Aran Islands

The island has been inhabited for thousands of years, against all odds. The sea crashes endlessly against the limestone cliffs and the wind is intense. We have not seen the sun all day. There is no soil to speak of, and yet life thrives here.

Ruins on Innishmore
Ruins of a church on Innishmore
Ruins on Innishmore
Ruins on Innishmore
Typical road on Innishmore

At noon our guide dropped us off at the entrance to Dun Aengus, a three-thousand-year-old fortress atop a 330-foot limestone cliff high above the Atlantic. To the west of us lie the U.S. and Canada. We hiked twenty minutes to the top and braved the gale-force winds to snap some dramatic photos of the rugged coastline.

At the starting point for the hike up to Dun Aengus
We made the hike up to Dun Aengus
The rugged Irish coastline as seen from Dun Aengus
The view from Dun Aengus
The fortress of Dun Aengus as seen from the air
Carol at Dun Aengus

We spent some time atop this mystical fortress listening to the murmers of Celtic ghosts, and then it was time for the twenty-minute walk back down. At the base, we sat inside a charming cottage with aromatic peat burning in the large fireplace and enjoyed steaming hot vegetable soup and thick black Irish bread with rich creamy butter.

Quaint cottage where we enjoyed lunch after the hike down from Dun Aengus
It was windy and chilly on Innishmore
Carol with Michael Hernon, our guide on Innishmore
Doors on Innishmore
David makes a friend on Innishmore

Michael showed us a bit more of the island and then we did some shopping at the stores in the village. Then it was time to get to the airport for the flight back to Galway. There was one minor problem though. Due to the heavy crosswinds, all flights were cancelled. So we boarded the ferry and settled in for the rocky roller-coaster ride back. At one point I asked a crewman if it was always this rough and he laughed and said “Mate, this is calm! You should see it in December.” I can’t imagine it.

Sign at the dock on Innishmore
It sure was cold and blustery on the boat back to Galway from Innishmore
Rough seas on the way back to Galway from Innishmore

After the forty minute roller-coaster ride from Innismore, we arrived at the Galway Ferry Pier. But our car was still at the tiny Aer Arann airport. So some folks who had chartered a mini-tour-bus were kind enough to allow us to ride with them, and we picked up our Micra, thanked our gracious friends (and their driver, Paddy – a real character) and drove the half-hour back to the Abacus B&B.

Carol back at the Abacus B&B in Galway

We freshened up and then at 7 pm we took the city bus to Eyre Square then walked to the “Latin Quarter” for dinner.

Carol in Galways "Old Town"

We picked McDonaughs for delicious fish and Guinness. We chatted with several folks at nearby tables. One fellow had rented a car and immediately had a fender-bender. We enjoyed our fish as well as the dinner conversation.


On the way back to the square, we stopped for a few minutes at a pub to listen to some wonderful lively Irish folk music.


We then caught a taxi to the B&B, packed for tomorrow’s 200-mile drive, and fell into bed after another magical day in this enchanting land.


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