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PADDY'S IRELAND TOUR

ARAN ISLANDS

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Friday May 21, 2010. The Aran Islands have been protected for centuries by their isolated position, and today they are a bastion of traditional Irish culture. The language spoken here is Irish (Gaeilge), although English is widely used. They are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland.

           

Our bus took us to the place where we would board a ferry. When we got to Inishmore, the largest of the islands, we got into a small bus that gave us a detailed tour. Our driver was Michael, and he had a thick Irish brogue. He was a very colorful character.

                   

                  

 

 We walked all over the island. The Arans are famous for the fishermen's sweaters that they weave and export throughout the world. They are commonly worn by the men on the island, each family has its own distinctive pattern, and the women knit them by hand, although nowadays machines are used. We had tea and scones in one of the establishments.

        

 

As we walked around we could see some thatched cottages, typical of Ireland, and we also saw the ruins of the Seven Churches and the accompanying cemeteries.

           

           

 

The site is comprised, in fact, of two churches and some domestic buildings dating from the 8th to the 13th centuries. There are also numerous graves, tombstones and crosses which attest to the many who lie in the burial grounds.

             

 

We visited the ruins of Dun Angus, a fort built on top of the cliffs. It was a very arduous climb, and the descent was even worse. There were some spear headed rocks placed for protection. The view from the top was awesome. We posed for a Kodak moment with our former colleague, Betty Anderson, the organizer of the trip.

                     

 

The views on the way back were magnificent, and back in town we were able to see some more examples of what life was like in the olden times, including the main means of transportation.

           

Once we were back on the mainland, we returned to the hotel to change into suitable clothes for the Medieval Banquet that we partook at Dungaire Castle. Named after the 7th Century King Guaire of Connaught, whose court was re known by its bards & balladeers, it is still used as a banquet hall, with Celtic harp music & the recital of Irish poetry. The meal was served by wenches, and it consisted of simple foods accompanied by mead, which Pat & I tasted unabashedly . In all it was great fun. The decor was definitely medieval.

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  After the banquet we returned to the hotel, anticipating the next adventure: The Cliffs of Moher in The Burren .

 

 

 

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