ARRANMORE – the Aran island tourists haven’t heard of


aran island Did she marry the Island boy? aye she did surely, sure Colum Boyle was the only boy for her and didn’t he only have eyes for her.

When you’re a raven haired beauty daughter of a Killybegs fisherman, its highly likely you’ll bump into a boy from Arranmore Island.  Even the son of Charlie Boyle the Lighthouse keeper.  The rest of us might go our whole lives without ever meeting anyone from there and if it wasn’t for that wedding in 1998 I probably would never have met anyone from Arranmore either, let alone visit.  Like most Islands emigration is a big part of modern life.

Where is Arranmore?

Arranmore Island is located just off the west coast of Donegal in the northern county of the republic of Ireland. Arranmore (Irish language: Árainn Mhór is the largest inhabited island of County Donegal, and the second largest in all of Ireland, with a population of 514 in 2011, down from 528 in 2006, 543 in 2002, and over 600 in 1996.

My friend was no exception to this rule and I met this young couple in Houston Texas of all places. We were all young then, young Irish Immigrants in a crazy place like Texas a far cry from Donegal and Arranmore Island.

Donegal Gaeltacht

Arranmore Island is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht and while the population increases in the summer months when flocks of young people come here to study Irish, the census figures don’t lie, rather they mirror a story told by many islands around the world.  That’s your geography and history lesson in one right there.  We Irish like to confuse people and make nothing easy even for ourselves. Árainn Mhór is the only official name. The anglicized spelling Arranmore has no official status, and in English it is called Aran Island, but when you say Aran Islands, people rightly say off Galway, there’s even an Aran Island off Scotland, but we are off the coast of Donegal, aren’t we? if in doubt the GPS coordinates are just below.  God I love my GPS.aran island

Arranmore Social life

If is wild nights and city life your looking for then most definitely you got yourself on the wrong ferry, but if Its a serene pristine island with the influences of the emigrants who return home to visit often and have brought their hobbies with them then your in for a treat. Soccer for example is more common than Gaelic football despite being in the gaeltacht.  The island hosts the Arranmore Challenge, an annual soccer competition every June bank holiday weekend where 16 teams compete over 2 days. The competition has increased in popularity every year since it was introduced in 2001, and it hosts teams from all over Ireland and the UK.aran island
The immense beauty makes this postcard perfect island resemble what Americans think Ireland looks like.  It does of course as obviously we are in Ireland but this life is so far removed from any of the big towns and cities in the rest of the country, and when your here you thank God for that.

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Things to do on Arranmore

Fishing is a big sport here and if that’s your thing then Arranmore wont disappoint. From sea fishing to fresh water lakes your spoil t for choice.  If quite walks are what your looking for, this is the place for you. If an Irish pub with great traditional music music is your thing, yep your in the right place.

Twin town

The island is twinned with Beaver Island, an island in northern Lake Michigan where a large number of former residents settled after being evicted from Arranmore in the mid-1800.

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arranmore Island lifeboat August 2012As the proud owner of a lifeboat I’ve a keen interest and I’m proud to report that The Arranmore RNLI Station, with its Severn class lifeboat, is among st the best equipped in the county.Little bits of

No police / Garda station on Arranmore

No Garda Station on the Island, no Gards stationed here, but they do show up on the weekends to keep an eye on things.  Mind you with the cut backs how long with that last?

The island was the first offshore island in the Republic of Ireland to get electricity from the Rural Electrification Scheme, run by the E.S.B., in 1957, but was among st the last places in the country to get universally reliable piped water (in 1973-75) and an automatic phone exchange (in 1986).  No wonder the couple moved to Texas, I cant imagine Samantha Boyle AKA Mrs Bucket without a direct line to everywhere….

This places is a writers dream.  A few nice pubs, I had a great session in Early’s pub and Phil Bans is a great spot too.  The island is remote enough for peace, but if you need anything or if your missing the city lights then your only a ferry ride and a bus ride to Dublin or Belfast.  Remember my last story, no trains to Donegal, nor within Donegal itself and it doesn’t look like there will ever be one as Iarnród Éireann considers that the population cannot sustain a rail service. County Donegal once had the longest network of narrow gauge railway of any county in Ireland but like a lot of things in Ireland some gobshite put a stop to all that.  In fact Ireland once had one of the best rail systems in the whole of Europe but that’s another days story.  Maybe Ill get a train lover to write that one. 🙂

aran island

You get here by ferry and on a good day its a beautiful journey on the Atlantic Ocean but wild crossings are very well known to the locals too.  There are 2 ferry companies and you must use the same one in both directions or you’ll be charged twice.  There is a car ferry and also a faster passenger only ferry which only takes approx 5 mins.  When the weathers good take the slower one and pray for a slow crossing to prolong the trip as the views are spectacular and your photo opps will be plentiful.

Do yourself a favour, be one of your few friends who can brag they got to visit this real gem.  I promise you wont be disappointed.

The other Aran Island

The other Aran Island


54°59′22″N 8°31′51″W / 54.98953°N 8.53089°WCoordinates:



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About Sandra

Just a girl from Ireland who wants to live everywhere. Not a planner, a winger when it comes to travel. I don't even like people who plan too much. Without spontaneity there is no depth. A jack of all trades. A great friend, loyal and passionate and I expect the same in return. Always ready for the next adventure at a moments notice.
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