The Aran Islands

4 Dec

After an eventful ferry ride during which we were treated to an Irish Coast Guard training session, we arrived on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands.  At first I was taken aback by the rugged beauty of the place: a windswept, rocky island that was quintessentially Irish.  A quick stop for lunch later, we piled into minibuses and began to tour the island.  We passed through the hilly landscape, past low-walled farmland and stony shores, until we reached a ruined church overlooking the sea.  Wandering through the graveyard, it was clear how lonely yet beautiful the spot was, with tombs dating back centuries amid wildflowers growing out of the heath.   I stopped for some quiet appreciation of the place, which, as it turned out, would somehow be overshadowing by our next stop.

We got back on the bus and sped off, this time to ruins of an ancient fort called Dun Aengus, although collectively the group was dismayed when we learned it was twenty or so minute trek up a hill.  Nevertheless, we began our trek, but unbeknownst it would be more than worth it.  The ruins were pretty standard fare, a remnant of some great culture long forgotten, but the true attraction was the cliff it overlooked.  Tentatively, I stepped towards the edge, and was greeted with a rush of air blasting from the roaring waves below.  Around me, others peered over, lying with their faces to the sea, so afraid to fall that they’d never truly fly.  I wasn’t content just looking, I had to experience the cliffs, and so I dipped my feet below the threshold, claiming footing on a lower spot.  Never had I ever felt more at one with the universe.  There I was, gazing out into eternity as furious gales rushed past and the sun beat down with all its might.  This was truly experiencing the majesty of the Aran Islands, a moment that I will treasure forevermore.

– Patrick Michaelis

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