Ireland Aran Islands

Located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Ireland there is three stunning Islands that are called the Aran Islands. They are Inishmore (Inis Mor, in Gaelic), Inishmaan (Inis Meain), and Inisheer (Inis Oirr).

There is a beauty about the Aran Islands and the lives their inhabitants lead. Cliffs keep the southern part of the island secure as they did in medieval times. There are fields with stone walls along the island even though there are only six inches of topsoil which were used to separate livestock. There are hidden sandy beaches. Most visitors go to Inishmore which is the largest of the Aran Islands.

 

There are ruins of many ancient monuments-

Dun Aonghusa is the most significant ancient site, sitting on top of the highest cliff point of Inis Mór. Excavation has revealed extensive evidence of human activity dating back over 2,500 years in this sprawling fort, which covers 14 acres and is divided into outer, middle and inner enclosures by curved walls that stretch right up to the cliff face. The middle enclosure was also fortified with closely set pillars.

The Black Fort is another fort situated on Inis Mór. This fort consists of a terraced wall surrounding the remains of some early dwelling houses known as Clocháns( stone houses). Excavations have not been out carried yet so exact dates cannot be given but it is thought to be possibly contemporary with Dún Aonghasa. It is understood that the name the Black Fort comes from the dark coloured limestone which is characteristic of this area on the island.

The Seven Churches- Tradition on the island has it that his foundation rivalled St Enda’s foundation in the east of the island. Indeed the two saints are held to have eventually agreed to divide the island between them. Although termed ‘ the seven churches’ there are in fact only two churches with a number of domestic buildings. The title seven is possibly an allusion to the pilgrimage circuit of Rome which incorporated seven churches.

 

The Famous Aran Sweaters

The most famous aspect of Aran Island life is the Aran Sweater, however. Knitted from sheep’s wool, they were worn by the fishermen and farmers of the island because of their natural heat retention and water resisting properties. Aran sweaters are very distinctive not just because of the thick and often untreated wool used, but also the unique textured patterns used in the knit. Each family has their own unique design with specific meanings that can include several combinations of stitches, passed down through generations.

 

 

 

 

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