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Inis Mór
Native name:
Árainn Mhór
Inishmore Central.jpg
A view over the karst landscape on Inis Mór from Dún Aonghasa
Island of Ireland location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Inis Mór
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 53°07′25″N9°43′39″W / 53.12361°N 9.72750°W / 53.12361; -9.72750 Coordinates: 53°07′25″N9°43′39″W / 53.12361°N 9.72750°W / 53.12361; -9.72750
Area31 km2 (12 sq mi)
Length14 km (8.7 mi) [1]
Width3.8 km (2.36 mi) [1]
Province Connacht
County Galway
Population845 (2011)
The Aran Islands Aranislandssatmap.jpg
The Aran Islands
Gravestone 2017-06-16 4904x7356 inishmore gravestone.jpg
Beach on Inis Mor White Beach on Inishmore (6023716363).jpg
Beach on Inis Mór
Cill Ronain Inishmore - 000.jpg
Cill Rónáin
Photograph from within Dun Aonghusa on Inis Mor in Galway Bay, Ireland, a prehistoric coastal hill fort Dun Aonghusa internal.jpg
Photograph from within Dún Aonghusa on Inis Mór in Galway Bay, Ireland, a prehistoric coastal hill fort

Inis Mór (Irish : Árainn [Irish pronunciation:  [ˈɑːɾən̠ʲ] ] Loudspeaker.svg listen  , Irish : Árainn Mhóror Irish : Inis Mór) is the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay in Ireland and has an area of 31 km2 (12 sq mi). Inis Mór has a population of about 840, making it the largest of the Aran Islands in terms of population and largest island off the Irish coast with no bridge or causeway to the mainland. The island is famous for its strong Irish culture, loyalty to the Irish language, and a wealth of Pre-Christian and Christian ancient sites including Dún Aonghasa, described as "the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe" by George Petrie. [2]



Prior to the 20th century, the island was more commonly called Inis Bant or as Árainn na Naomh. The modern Irish name, Árainn Mhór, (which translates as "Great Aran" in English) leads to some confusion with Arranmore, County Donegal. [3] The Irish word Árainn means "long ridge", presumably referring to the island's geography. Árainn is the legal placename in Irish or English as declared in the Official Languages Act 2003.

Geology and geography

The island is an extension of the Burren. The terrain of the island is composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The limestones date from the Visean period (Lower Carboniferous), formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago, and compressed into horizontal strata with fossil corals, crinoids, sea urchins and ammonites. Glaciation following the Namurian phase facilitated greater denudation. The result is that Inis Mór and the other islands are among the finest examples of Glacio-Karst landscape in the world. The effects of the last glacial period (the Midlandian) are most in evidence, with the island overrun by ice during this glaciation. The impact of earlier Karstification (solutional erosion) has been eliminated by the last glacial period. So any Karstification now seen dates from approximately 10,000 years ago and the island Karst is thus recent.

Solutional processes have widened and deepened the grikes of the limestone pavement. Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of sub-terrainean drainage.

Towns and villages

Flora and fauna

The island supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side by side, due to the unusual environment. Like the Burren, the Aran islands are known for their unusual assemblage of plants and animals. [4] The grikes (crevices) provide moist shelter, thus supporting a wide range of plants including dwarf shrubs. Where the surface of the pavement is shattered into gravel, many of the hardier Arctic or alpine plants can be found. But when the limestone pavement is covered by a thin layer of soil, patches of grass are seen, interspersed with plants like the gentian and orchids. Insects present include the butterfly the pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae), marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) and wood white (Leptidea sinapis); the moths, the burren green (Calamia tridens), Irish annulet (Gnophos dumetata) and transparent burnet (Zygaena purpuralis); and the hoverfly Doros profuges .


Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches), Inis Mor Teampall Brecan - - 1471024.jpg
Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches), Inis Mór

Inis Mór today is a major tourist destination, with bed and breakfast accommodation scattered across the island. Private minibuses, horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the main methods of getting about for the numerous tourists who visit the island in the summer months.

There is a small museum illustrating the history of Dún Aonghasa and its possible functions, while the Aran Sweater Market is also a focal point for visitors who can trace the culture and history associated with the Aran sweater through the on-site museum. Nearby are a Neolithic tomb and a small heritage park at Dún Eochla, featuring examples of a traditional thatched cottage and poteen distillery. [5] The Tempull Breccain (Church of Brecan), commonly called the Seven Churches of Aran, is a complex of churches and other buildings dedicated to the 5th-century Saint Brecan, once a popular destination for pilgrims. [6] In the centre of the island, at its highest point is the Inishmore Lighthouse, it was decommissioned in 1857 and replaced by the lights at Eeragh and Inisheer. [7]

The island plays host to Ted Fest each year. Established in 2004 it is a celebration of the television sitcom Father Ted . Festival goers dress as their favourite characters, watch their favourite episodes and take part in various Ted related events and competitions.


Some of the limestone sea cliffs have attracted interest from rock-climbers. [8] Diving is possible.[ ambiguous ] A particularly popular location for this is Poll na bPéist (hole of worms/sea monsters), located at the southern coast of the island, which is a large naturally formed rectangular pool communicating via underground channels with the sea. [9] Since 2012 Inis Mór has hosted an event as part of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.


The island is serviced by Aran Ferries ferry from Rossaveal and Doolin. These are passenger-only ferries; cars and heavy goods are transported on unscheduled services.

Aer Arann Islands runs daily scheduled flights from Inis Mór Aerodrome to Connemara Airport using Britten Norman Islander aircraft.

The island features heavily in Martin McDonagh's play The Lieutenant of Inishmore .

Inis Mór was used as a recording location for the 1997 film The Matchmaker and the 2010 film Leap Year .

The first story in These Precious Hours by Michel Corrigan has a scene set on Inis Mór.

The island appeared on the premiere episode of The Amazing Race 12 with teams needing to find Teampall Bheanáin after they arrived. [10]

The music video for Dermot Kennedy's "For Island Fires and Family" (video released 10 January 2019) was filmed entirely on Inis Mór. [11] [12]

Notable inhabitants

Aran in the Irish annals

Annals of Inisfallen (AI)


The table below reports data on Inis Mór's population taken from Discover the Islands of Ireland (Alex Ritsema, Collins Press, 1999) and the Census of Ireland.

Historical population
2011 845+2.5%
Source: Central Statistics Office. "CNA17: Population by Off Shore Island, Sex and Year". Retrieved 12 October 2016. 2016 population: "CSO Statbank E2021".

Annalistic references

AI=Annals of Inisfallen. (AF)M=Annals of the Four Masters.

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 "Inishmore - Árainn". Fáilte Ireland . Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  2. "The Best of Ancient Ireland". Frommer's. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  3. Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc. (2011). Fodor's See It Ireland. Fodor's Travel Publications. p. 207. ISBN   978-1-4000-0553-6.
  4. Webb, D. A. (1961–1963). "Noteworthy Plants of the Burren: A Catalogue Raisonné". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section B . Royal Irish Academy. 62: 117–34. ISSN   0035-8983. JSTOR   20494847 via JSTOR.
  5. Mario De Carli. "Prehistoric Forts". Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  6. Harbison, Peter (1 April 1995). Pilgrimage in Ireland: The Monuments and the People. Syracuse University Press. pp. 93ff. ISBN   978-0-8156-0312-2.
  7. Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Western Ireland (Ulster and Connacht)". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill . Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  8. "Aran Islands - Irish Climbing Online Wiki".
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Rocchio, Christopher (5 November 2007). "Ari Bonas, Staella Gianakakos eliminated from 'The Amazing Race 12'". Reality TV World. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  11. "WATCH: Dermot Kennedy's stunning new video set on the Aran Islands". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  12. "Dermot Kennedy releases new video filmed on Inis Mór". 13 January 2019.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. Gillan, P. J. (1 January 2004). "Bridget Dirrane" via The Guardian.
  14. Eyman, Scott. Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1999. ISBN   0-684-81161-8 (excerpt c/o New York Times )