I found the Galway trip to be a wonderful opportunity to explore Irish history and alternative Irish lifestyles. One of my favorite parts of the trip is when we got to explore and tour the Aran Islands. This was most interesting to me to ponder their way of life. On the tour I learned that their livelihood is dependent upon fishing, tourism, and farming. One of the highlights of my trip to Ireland so far was when we visited Dún Aonghasa. The sun shining through the clouds made the view incredible. I learned that ‘Dún’ is the word for fort. There are number of historical stone forts on the Aran Islands. They are thought to date back to the late Bronze age through the Iron age. Their function is not fully known. Many suspect that beyond being a habituation site, that the forts were also used for ritual purposes. Stone foundations for seven houses were discovered within the inner fort.
To my recollection, Inis Mór had a population of roughly 900 people. I found this to be an extremely interesting fact to comprehend. I imagined growing up on the island and all the positives and negatives that would accompany that. Beyond that, the tour guide mentioned that the inhabitants of the island rely strictly on the rainwater as their water source. This further helped me to conceptualize how much it must rain. Another bit of information I found intriguing was that the island only recently got electricity—which I believe was in the mid 1970’s. The lifestyle on this island is so unique to modernized standards of living elsewhere. I was very impressed at their unique way of utilizing various resources within the small population that they have.
The Aran Islands are a native Irish speaking population. I also recently spoke with Michael Kielty at Dublin Business School, who was sent to the Aran Islands and stay with a family in order to continue his education in the Irish language. From further research, language classes are still offered and it is part of the culture on the Islands.