Hidden off of the coast of western Ireland, and situated in Galway Bay, the Aran Islands are one of Ireland’s greatest natural treasures. In order to reach the largest of the three islands: Inishmore, a ferry must be taken from the mainland across the rough waters of Galway Bay. Immediately upon arrival, one realizes that the island’s primary language is still Gaelic or the native Irish language. It is a fascinating language that can be traced back to the 5th century and is quite different from English which is what the majority of Irish people now speak. The main attraction on the island of Inishmore is the prehistoric fort: Dun Aengus, which was first settled in 1100 B.C. Situated in a harsh, desolate environment, where one is at the mercy of the Sea; the fort can be viewed as a series of 4 semicircular walls that surround a main settlement, which lies right on the edge of 330 ft. high cliffs that plunge into the Atlantic Ocean below. It is remarkable to see the complexity in which the civilization that once occupied the fort lived in so long ago. Stairs, fortifications and rooms are still visible within the walls, and the earliest settlers were thought to be religious druids who used the fort for protection as well as ceremonies and rituals. Currently, one is able to walk right up to the edge of the cliffs and have a look over the edge which is quite a nervous experience. However, I preferred the much safer route and left more than a few feet between myself and the raging waters below. Though the walls of the fort are partially restored, the site offers a glimpse into the life of the native Irish who inhabited the island over 3000 years ago, as well as a truly remarkable view of the Atlantic Ocean.
By: Ryan Waetjen