Inis Mór (Inishmore in English)
Inis Mór is easily accessible and provides a sheltered
anchorage and harbour for most conditions. The largest of the three islands, Inishmore
has a good natural harbour at Kilronan as well as a brand new massive
breakwater. It was dredged in 2008 and has plenty of depth. The stone jetty at
the head of the harbour has all manner of vessels tied to it. The pier and
breakwater forms a U-shaped basin for the fishing fleet, the lifeboat, visiting
yachts, and for the ferries to dock under all but the most challenging conditions.
We anchored in protected waters (except NE-erly) inside the
moored RNLI Lifeboat and just outside the visitor’s mooring field. We dinghied
ashore with our bikes and tied up our dinghy along a stairway up the inner side
of the pier. There are stone steps on both sides of the jetty where dinghies can
tie up for access to shore.
What to do
The first thing to do is stop into the visitor’s centre right
at the harbour near the public toilets to learn what is happening on the island
and pick up a map. The maps are very helpful for planning trips around the
island as it is actually possible to get lost – as we have done twice now. The
staff at the visitor’s centre is very friendly and helpful too. We learned the all-important
answer to which pubs are open, which are serving food, and which have
entertainment planned. We also learned all about the Red Bull Cliff Diving
Championships scheduled for later in the season. Although we didn’t make it
this year, we did watch the videos on YouTube (OMG) and do plan to go back if
they return another time.
The horse and carriage trade has certainly made a resurgence
in Inishmore and it can be a nice way to take a tour. Yet, Inishmore is definitely
an island for bicycling. The bike ride along the upper road provides great
vistas across the Bay and the open ocean, while the lower road winds its way
along the sea, amongst small farms and seal colonies.
We biked up to the prehistoric village ruins of Dun Aengus,
where a 16-acre ring fort was built right up to the edge of 100-metre cliffs.
The walls form a semi-circle that stops at the dizzying edges; there never was
a full circle according to the archaeologists and geologists. The outside
perimeter of the third ring of walls is protected by one of Europe’s finest
examples of Chevaux de frise, a defensive system of angled standing stones that
prevent surprise attacks. It is a spectacular sight. On the way back down, we
stopped at the visitor centre and the cafe, only to be pleasantly surprised at
the delicious lunch fare offered, with fresh breads and interesting
There are several smaller forts and castles which we have
visited on occasion. And one structure had us puzzled as it looked very much
like a reverse stadium with seats all around from which masses of people could
watch performances. We walked the wall which wound around like a serpentine
shell and imagined all kinds of uses. Then we learned that it’s a clever modern
construction to hide the 15,000 sqm water reservoir. Dúchas had major
involvement in protecting flora and fauna, building traditional walls and
completely covering the reservoir in local stone. Our musings were dashed, but we were indeed impressed with the islanders’
Services, Food and more
There are several bike rental shops, restaurant, pub,
visitor’s centre, hostel, and shops along the harbour front. There is also a
public rest room facility next to which is a tourist information centre.
Inishmore has a large Spar supermarket not far from the harbour that is well
stocked with all sorts of provisions including fresh breads, liquor, and fresh
meats and vegetables. Newspapers are available after 1100 h. It is deceptive
from the outside, but huge on the inside and even has some household items and
an ATM. Next door is a coffee shop in which to pass some time with a paper on a
questionable weather day. A tiny Bureau de Change can be found in a house on
the road to the supermarket. In the evenings, it is not unlikely to find
traditional music and dancing wafting out of the pubs and onto the streets.
As everything is in Irish, even the name of the AIB bank is
written in Irish.
There are several pubs and restaurants where not only is
proper libation available but suitable food as well. Tí Joe Macs is very
traditional and the nearest to the ferry. It's great for sitting outside on a
sunny day watching the harbour especially around sunset. It also has a nice warm
fire inside. A group of men discussing local politics in hushed voices turned
and looked at us in silence as we walked in and took a seat. The pints were
pulled to perfection but there was no food when we were there. At first we
thought there were many men named Ti around these parts. Then we learned that Tí
means ‘house of’ in Irish, hence the pub names. Hahahaha!
Further on The American Bar has inside seating as
well as a beer garden, and serves good pub grub. We had excellent burgers and
fish and chips there. The mural commemorates Paddy Barry’s trip across the
Atlantic in the Galway Hooker “St. Patrick” to take part in the parade celebrating
the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. http://irishislands.info/conmweenish.html
Tigh Fitz is slightly outside Kilronan on the way to
Cill Einne (Killeany). It’s a lovely pub and guest house which often has music.
(It is listed on Daft.ie for sale in 2013.)
Tí Joe Wattys ( http://www.joewattys.com/)
is an institution that wayward sailors gravitate toward in droves. Just at the
crossroads of the roads to Dun Aengus and the seal colony, past The Lucky Star
where all the chickens roam. Ti Joe Watty's, is our favourite, with a nice
beer garden under trees, decent sized area inside and live music guaranteed at
the weekends. Lots of locals come here, too. We had a very nice lunch meal
there. They start serving at 12:30 and go until late so it’s possible to get
food all day long. There's also The Lucky Star, but the open hours are sporadic
at best. It’s never been open while we were there.
Despite the stopover of many yachts on Inishmore, most
repair services are available only in Galway including Galway Boat Building and
Marine Services Ltd and West Sails. (See our Galway pages for more
information.) There is a daily ferry from Inishmore to Doolin or Rossaveal via
Aran Island Ferries. From Rossaveal there is a bus connection to Galway at Eyre