Inismore is an island off the west coast of Ireland. It is the largest of the three Aran Islands and is part of Co. Galway. It is also part of the Gealteacht, one of many such regions of Ireland where the principal language spoken is Irish. Don't let this put you off though, you will never have any trouble making yourself understood as very few people will not have good English and anybody working in the tourist trade will certainly be well able to speak English if they do not do so as their first language anyway.

Inismore is an island of 830 people. It has 14 villages, many of them very small and 3 churches. It has 8 graveyards and one diesel station; there is no petrol on the island as it is too difficult to transport over. You cannot bring a car over to the island as the passenger ferries are for foot passengers only. There is ample free parking around the ferry terminal to leave your car while you are out on the island. On the island, the two major forms of travel are bicycle or minibus. There are at least 3 or 4 minibuses constantly giving tours of the island year-round and they are always waiting by the boat when it gets in. If you are staying over and feel like going back to your hotel first, that is no problem. Just flag down any minibus you see and they will take you on the standard tour. The tour will cost anything from €12 to €15 depending on who you go with. The tour will go up the island through the various villages and past the gas station to the Seven Churches and then on to the most remote house on the island which is a thatch cottage which is beautifully kept by its owner.

On the return leg, you are brought to the Dun Aengus explanatory centre from which there is a twenty minute climb on foot to the semi-circular fort which is build overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The tradition is to lie on the ground and slowly move your head over the edge of the cliff to feel the force of the wind blowing up the cliff face from the ocean far below. This is quite a dangerous tradition though, so this author would certainly not recommend that anyone try it. After 20 minutes taking pictures of the island and the sea from Dun Aengus, you go back down again to meet your bus. The way up is not steep but is very difficult walking, particularly in wet conditions as there is no good path for half of the journey. From here the minibus brings you to the southern part of the island to see the smallest church in Europe (a claim the Maltese also make of one of their churches and is probably made in many other parts of Europe also!)

Inismore is not commercialized and though it is geared to the tourist trade in the fact that it has many rooms and enough places to eat, it is not ruled by this. This fact is noticeable in the complete lack of any competition between B&B's or hotels for guests. In the Summer months many of the visitors to the island would be day-trippers or there for only one night. The island does not seem to be the site of any holiday homes, probably because of the unpredictability of the weather and the fact that it is not possible to go there for a day-trip from Dublin. Even a weekend break would be impractical. Leaving work on Friday afternoon you would miss the late ferry to the island and have to stay on the mainland for the early ferry in the morning. Then to get back to Dublin for work on Monday morning you would have to leave on the Sunday on the 6:30pm ferry. The lack of a direct flight from Dublin to the island or even to the same airport as the flights go to the island from, means that it is just not convenient to reach.

That said. When you do get there it is magic. The people are always very nice and genuine. The sights are nothing short of breathtaking and the pace of life would relax even the most stressed in no time at all.