Remote and ruggedly beautiful, Inis Mór is one of the three Aran Islands that lie off the coast of Galway. Criss-crossed with drystone walls, steeped in history and mythology, and dotted with ancient monuments, the island is a salve for the soul.
A new way to experience its unspoilt beauty and to learn about its history and culture is on the Aran Off Road Experience. Travel in the comfort of a customised, leather-seated jeep and in the company of local guides who will take you off the beaten track to see the hidden gems on this Atlantic-washed landscape.
Brothers and native Islanders Pádraig and Aonghus Hernon provide personalised, small group experiences that take you to the local landmarks. Highlights include the Poll na Bpéist /wormhole; Teampall Bheanáin, the smallest eleventh-century church in Europe; Dún Eochla fort, the highest point of the Island; and the world-famous UNESCO heritage site of Dún Aonghusa, a 3,000 year-old stone fort perched on a cliff 100 metres above the ocean.
The Taste of Aran Food Tour is another new island experience, this time promising to tantalise your taste buds. The guided food and historical tour showcases the best of Inis Mór’s local fare.
The all-day experience includes a visit to a goat farm, to see how the premium Aran Goats Cheese is made and meet the goats! Here you’ll get the opportunity to sample delicious seaweed-infused Gouda, brie-like summer cheese and indulgent soft cheese.
The Taste of Aran Food Tour also includes a stint of foraging for seaweed at Blath na Mara, a family business that carries on the traditions of seaweed harvesting by hand. Lunch at the award-winning café, Teach Nan Phaidi, is also included.
Over on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the three Aran Islands, another new tour has been created to celebrate the local culture.
Starting with home-baked treats at the Aran Tea House, the tour moves on to Aras Éanna, the island Arts Centre where you will learn how to make a traditional St Brigid’s Cross from locally grown willow.
This is followed by a visit to one of the island’s hand knitters where the famous Aran patterns will be demonstrated. Then a tour of the island calls at the Plassey shipwreck, underground church and O’Brien’s Castle perched at Inis Oirr’s highest point.
A freshly caught lobster from the Atlantic Ocean will be served for lunch at a local house and the tour ends in the pub where you can enjoy an Inis Beer, the craft beer exclusive to the islands.