What to See on the island
Dún Chonchubhair is the biggest fort on the Aran Islands, and is one of the oldest and most famous of its kind in Ireland. It is situated on ‘Baile an Dúna’, on the highest point of the island. The dún is named after Conchrúid Mac Uathmhóir and was called Dún Chonchrúid, which we now call Dún Chonchubhair. Conchrúid was the brother of Aengus and Dún Aengus (Dún Aonghusa) on Inis Mór is named after him.
This is a hillfort and used for defence and as a watch point. The ‘clocháin’ inside were built during the 1880s. There is a magnificent view from Dún Chonchubhair.
Leaba Dhiarmada ‘is Ghráinne
This is a wedge tomb of Neolithic or Early Bronze Age (c. 4000-1400BC). Ireland has many megalithic tombs, but this a good example of its kind.
This tomb relates to the Fenain tale – ‘The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne’. This story concerns a love triangle between the great warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Gráinne and her paramour Diarmaid.
This stone fort of the 1st – 7th centuries AD, or perhaps earlier, is unusual in being almost square instead of circular. The terraces along the inside of the walls may have been for defenders to look over or for some ceremonial purpose. It is easy to climb on to the top of the wall and worth it for the fine view of the low-lying northern part of the island.
Dún Fearbhaigh is on ‘Baile an Mhúir, on the east side of the island. It is prompted on a hill, overlooking the sea between Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr. This Dún is accessible by a ‘róidín’ (cobbled-lane) which leads from the main road.
This is a small beehive hut, built in the traditional fashion with the stones corbelling in until it is possible to complete the roof with a capstone. This one has a hole in the roof and you can get above it to look in, so the mode of construction is very clear.
It is believed the clochán was built in Christian times when monks travelled to rural places to disseminate the Christian belief and to be closer to God.
Séipéal Mhuire gan Smál agus Naomh Eoin Baiste
This is a quite modern church, dedicated in 1939, which is worth visiting for the alter by James Pearse (the father of Patrick Pearse) and the windows from the studio of Harry Clarke, which are famous around the world. The stoup, plaque and font at the entrance come from the old 15th century church whose site is just across the road.
Na hAillte & na Poill Séidthe / The cliffs and Puffin Holes
There are cliffs on both the south and west side of the island. It is a beautiful, scenic route to the south coast from the east to west side of the island.
If you walk just a little further south past Synge’s, you can look over the big west-facing cliffs of Inis Meáin. Even on a relatively calm day the waves will be beating against the rocks in masses of spray and foam. In the distance you may see great pillars of spray spouting up well inland out of the puffing holes. These cliffs are exciting to explore.
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