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Monday, October 5, 2015

Experience of a Lifetime - Inishmore, Aran Islands, Ireland (Days 16-17)

The Aran Islands are three islands - Inis Mor (the largest), Inis Meain, and Inis Oirr (the smallest).  I would like to see and stay on all three.  For our first trip, we chose the largest.  Our stay on Inishmore left me with the most memorable experience of our whole trip.  I will cherish this lifetime memory for all my days.

Ermagawd - we are still alive! I'm gonna need the nearest pub now! — at Inishmore.

This was awesome!!!!  It was easily done - Connemara Airport is tiny and convenient.  Free parking for the rental car.  We left our luggage behind and just carried backpacks for the two nights we would be staying on Inishmore.  I had pre-booked our flight, so we checked in and waited for them to call us.  They told us our assigned seats as we walked out to the plane.  We were all so excited and just a little nervous as we squeezed in.  The 8 minute flight was over before we knew it (it seemed like a LONG 8 minutes DURING the flight - HAHAHAHA!).  It was amazing flying over - words cannot describe it.  I know you can get here by ferry, but I would come by flight EVERY time.  When you land, there's a shuttle available.  We had a short wait for the next flight to arrive with our backpacks.  I guess we were a little heavy on our plane.  

We are on the Aran Island of Inishmore. It's very comforting even in its isolation. The cliffs are extremely daunting. Staying in a stone house built in 1800s. Exploring a 9th century church in our backyard. — at Kilmurvey House.

Kilmurvey House

Yep, ruins in the backyard. EVERY backyard. Told you so.

We stayed at Kilmurvey House and I would highly recommend it.  One of our favorite places!  The owner, Treasa, was one of the nicest people I have ever met in my entire life.  She went out of her way to make us feel at home and came across so genuine and kind-hearted.  She also made a sit-down dinner our first night and it was the BEST salmon with the most incredible sauce that I have ever had in my entire life.  Can you tell I was satisfied to the max?  

We chose Kilmurvey House because we wanted to be near Dun Aengus - the cliffside fort.  It was not important to us to be near the pubs and "action".  We were here to experience a simple life of past.  The area does get busy during the day, but after about 3pm, it is ALL yours.  And, since it doesn't get dark until 11pm, this leaves plenty of time to enjoy, explore, and really feel the treasures of this island.  Kilmurvey House is also about a 5 minute walk from Kilmurvey Beach.

It was raining the evening we arrived, but we still couldn't resist going up to the fort.  You have no charge if you stay at Kilmurvey House.  You can also come up after hours of the visitor's center.

Landscape is very much like The Burren.

The walk from Kilmurvey house up to Dun Aengus.

Okay, if you have been following my blog from the beginning, then you know that one of the things I rave about Ireland is the freedom to make your own judgement call regarding your personal safety.  Areas that I had expected to roped off, fenced off, Warning, Danger, signs galore - nope, just go ahead and skirt that cliff.  Get your pic, don't slip.  And, it's been refreshing.  BUT.  BIG but.  We should NOT have been allowed to enter Dun Aengus on this evening.  I am a little annoyed that the two attendants did not just tell us to come back the next day.  They did give a verbal warning for us to keep our children close as the edge is sheer cliff.  Yes, gotcha, we know.  What we were not prepared for is the powerful winds that pummeled us.  We weren't sure if it was always this windy.  We continued, but couldn't even walk at the top.  I had a strong grip on Molly.  While Rob kept Caitlin near.  At one point, Caitlin's hat blew off and she instinctively turned to chase it.  Rob's arm shot out and grabbed her so superhero fast.  Thankfully.  He actually doesn't have much of a quick reaction time, but thankfully, in the face of truly grave danger, it kicked in.  Shakened and rattled, we were done and headed back down.  I will mention that the waves crashing against the cliff were pretty spectacular.      

She is such a trooper!

Whew! Back down to safety. The girls did great navigating the slippery rocks in the strong winds.  They hardly complained.  Much.

So, we decided to go check out the church ruins in the backyard of Kilmurvey House.  What a treasure!  There are ruins to explore all over the island.  Make sure you get a map of the points of interest to explore them all.  

This is the market place next to Kilmurvey House. It gets very busy during the day with the daytrippers, but the food is really good.  The kids even got a second order of lasagne.  I may or may not have had two orders of the beef stew. 

We got a ride to the pier (the main area of hustle and bustle for the island) and thought how best can we explore this island?

For families, there is a great playground for the kids. It even has a zipline! Rob and I enjoyed the views while the kids got to do what they do best.  We weren't sure how to get back to Kilmurvey House.  We just sort of stood around the main area.  There were tour buses going by, but we didn't see anything that looked like public transport.  Finally, I told Rob to just wave down the next bus.  Yep, got a ride.  Oh, that's the other thing.  We had planned to get bikes, but after watching the drivers zip by them a little too close and a little too fast for our liking, we decided to pass.  Molly is a new rider.  But, I'm sure even Caitlin might not be comfortable with the close clipping.  

I AM LUCKY DUCKY TO BE ALIVE!!! Rob watched the girls so I could go up solo to Dun Aonghasa - a prehistoric cliff fort 300 feet high from sea built 1100 BC. I crawled on my belly to the edge and peered over. We can go home now. — at DĂșn Aonghasa.

Death grip on my camera, I stretched my arms and took the pic. I safely put my camera away and then peered over the edge. My bravery astounds me.
I'm really not sure the point of the fence. Because, clearly, it looks more dangerous on the other side?! BWAHAHAHA

Yep, I got braver the longer I was up here. 

I crawled on my belly and then rolled over onto my back. The sun in my face. See my bravery. I then rolled over and backed away on all fours away from the edge. I am a changed person. Forever.

Do you beach in the Irish cold sea? We did (some more than others). It was only us. Go figure. — at Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Oh! Forgot we needed to squeeze back into the tin can again for the return trip. Awesome views. Awesome experience. Still the longest 8 minutes, that ended too soon. — at Inishmore, Aran Islands.

Up next: Athlone, Ireland (Day 18)

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