June 30: Inishmore Island of the Aran Islands

The morning's weather was going to challenge the weak at heart -- Mother Nature wanted to test the endurance of all who came to bike. The Irish prayer states "May the wind always be to your back" -- Mother Nature decided that wasn't the real Irish way! A gale force breeze directly into the face with a mist to make sure that visibility was low. For every pedal stroke it felt like the bike was headed in reverse. But the group persevered and rode the scenic route along the coastal road to Rossaveel to catch the ferry to Inishmore Island, the largest of the Aran Islands.

The ferry ride is approximately an hour's trip across the Galway Bay from the town of Rossaveel to Kilronan. The stretch out in the open water can be choppy and with today's wind it was a guarantee! Rock and roll to Kilronan!! However, the farther away from the mainland the sunnier the skies and the slower the wind became.

The Aran Islands consist of a landscape of harsh, steep, rugged cliffs and windswept fields of limestone divided by stone walls. Inishmore, the largest of the three, is the home of four 5th century forts, the most famous being Dun Aenghus, which is set on a sheer cliff. After retrieving the bikes at the ferry dock it is a slow pedal up through town to the local restaurant for something warm, then on to Dun Duchathair (Black Fort) to explore. Leaving the bikes along side the road, the journey up the pathway on foot lead to the beautiful vista overlooking the sea high on the cliff. The limestone fields are tricky to walk due to erosion. What might look like a grassy patch is actually a cover over a hole. However, with our Irish guide, Mik, in the lead, each person felt their way up and over stone walls, across limestone fields, and reached the pinnacle sight -- Black Fort.

The fort is deceiving in its name. It has never successfully been determined that it actually was a fort. It sits on the edge of a cliff over 250 meters high, so a threat of attack from the sea is dubious. The island side is barren with no real advantage for conquering. Another note is that there has never been found a spot that would have been used as a water source, so long term residence seems unlikely. Some believe it might have been solely a ceremonial spot, while others think it was built as a sign of power.. No matter what the case may have been, today it is an isolated historical spot visited by few due to the difficulty of reaching. The group was very fortunate to experience it.

The evening is to be spent at a quaint B&B , Kilmusvey House on the island.

Sara Getting Last Minute Instructions From Wilma

On The Road to the Ferry

Another Shot of the Way

The Hillside

Arriving at the Ferry Dock

Warming Up in the Ferry Office

Laurie Counting to Make Sure Everyone Made the Ferry

Arriving on the Island

Laurie Once Again Checking Her Charge


Mick Entertaining the Group


Kate, Cheryl, Maura, Laura, Lauri

Races in the Bay -- Festival Weekend


Watching the Races

Example of Boat Used in Race -- Ancient Art Still Used

Local Irish Band


Notice Man With Cap -- He Is Playing a Wooden Board

Irish Dance Competition

Boat Race Headed Home


Sheila and Cheryl Admiring the Landscape

The Bay

Sara on the Road

Stone Walls

Flowers Along the Road

The Path to Black Fort



On The Way Up to the Fort



Cheryl and Alicia


Cheryl, Maura, Laura, Tricia

Growing out of a Crack in the Limestone

Crossing the Limestone Field

THE Cliff

Mick and Laura


Kathy and Mick

At Cliff's Edge

A View from the Fort

Another View

Inside the Fort

Laura, Laura, and Jen

Front Row: Cheryl, Laura,Lauri, Alicia, Tricia;

Back Row: Jen, Laura, Maura, Mick, Laurie;

Taking the Picture: Sue, Kate


Swans in a Fresh Water Pond on Way to Hotel



Dun Aenghus from Hotel


Stone Wall -- Notice Large Stone Surrounded by Smaller Ones. Allows for Making An Opening and Rebuilding