2: Hang Loose in Ireland

1991 Visit by Nolan Family to Aran Islands


July 30-Aug. 11, 1991


1: Flights to Shannon, Ireland

5: Great Golf at Ballybunion

2: Galway, Ferry to Aran Islands

6: Drive to Blarney, Brinney & Cork

3: Ballinasloe for Nolan Genealogy

7: Killarney Golf

4. Killarney, Cliffs of Moher

8: Waterville Golf & Ring of Kerry




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Thursday, Aug. 1, 1991 – Ferry ride to Aran Islands (Lewis’ account)


The drive along Galway Bay from Galway to Rossaveal to catch the ferry boat to the Aran Islands was a journey through Ireland’s Celtic history.


The highway signage morphed into Gaelic about the time we passed through the small town of Salt Hill. We had learned that the government of Ireland requires that schools teach adolescents a course or two in the ancient Irish language that is still spoken among older citizens who have spent their lives in what is called the “Gaeltecht,” or Gaellic-speaking section of the southwest near the Atlantic Ocean.


The ferry boat ride from Rossaval to the Aran Islands was advertised as a 20-minute excursion, which we learned is fairly typical advertising optimism that presents the best possible case in Ireland. The ride actually took 40 minutes in a fast boat that carries up to 240 passengers.


The main town of the Arans is Inishmoor, which seemed to us to be a fairly primitive port compared to other busy ports in Europe we’ve visited. There was a large bike rental business on the dock, where we paid 22 Irish Pounds (translating to about $10 each) for a day’s rental of the 10-speed bicycles.


We cycled out of Inishmoor on a narrow, winding road through farmland crisscrossed by picturesque, stone walls 3 or 4 feet high. We headed toward the ancient ruin of Dun Aengus (prounounced Angus as in the breed of cattle) on a cobbly road that climbed up the high, limestone hill topped by the fort supposedly built about 250 BC. The ride was about 6 miles long down a narrow, crudely paved lane. Here and there were two-passenger pony carts pulled by ponies and young horses. Some tourists opted for that form of transportation rather than peddle or walk.


All in all, we had a delightful ride in cool temperatures and sunshine mixed with clouds. I must say that the pedaling the bikes got the lungs and heart working. The view of the Atlantic rollers crashing against the nearby shoreline and limestone cliffs was almost as spectacular at that at the Cliffs of Moher on the Mainland. We stopped at Murphy’s Pub along the way, where having a glass of beer was a great delight.


The beer was among the best tasting I’ve ever enjoyed. The publican told me that the beer taps (plastic tubes that connect the aluminum kegs to the spigot on the bar) are cleaned twice a week, which I came to understand is double that of standard tap-cleaning in procedures in American bars. Lunch in the Dun Angus Restaurant about a mile from the quay where the ferryboat docked was quite good. We enjoyed smoked salmon (what else in Ireland?), fish and chips, ham sandwich and chocolate cake.


We struck up a conversation with a waitress at the restaurant who told us she was 18 and had recently returned to the island and spending two years in Boston. She had stayed in Boston with cousins and attended school there. After hearing her speak so lovingly about life on the Aran Islands, I formed an opinion that this young lady would probably not leave the security of country life again, despite the economic hardship and desolation that accompanies the end of the tourist season.


Back on the mainland, we stopped at a beach on the Atlantic Ocean near Salt Hill. We surprised that there were a few swimmers out braving the cold waters under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. All in all, it was a great day.


Thursday, Aug. 1, 2001 – Aran Islands and bike ride to Dun Angus (Betty’s account)


We left Galway for Rossaveal to catch the ferry at approximately 9:15 a.m. It was an hour’s drive north of Galway through the Connemara country (where the land is covered by large sections of limestock rock), which is very rugged and beautiful.


We left on the Aran Flyer boat about 10:35 a.m. and arrived at Innishmor – the longest of the Aran Islands – shortly after 11 a.m. By the time we got off the boat it was 11:30 a.m. We rented bicycles to ride to Dun Angus, an ancient fortification built around 250 B.C. It overlooks the ocean. We bicycled 5 or 6 miles, then parked the bikes (there were no locks, so evidently the Irish are either secure in their trust of visitors or secure that the bikes can’t be removed from the island without notice).


We hiked about ¾ of a mile over a steep, rocky terrain to get to the top of a cliff where the fort sits. Once we got closer to the top, we had a magnificent view of the cliffs below with the surf beating against the cliffs. When we reached the top, the view was was well worth the climb. Plus we were able to think about the ancient Celts protecting their coastline.


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