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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
East Beach, Inishmore Inishmore1.jpg
East Beach, Inishmore
Kilronan Inishmore - 000.jpg
Photograph from within Dun Aonghusa on Inishmore in Galway Bay, Ireland, a prehistoric coastal hill fort Dun Aonghusa internal.jpg
Photograph from within Dún Aonghusa on Inishmore in Galway Bay, Ireland, a prehistoric coastal hill fort

Inishmore or 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]

Irish language Goidelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country. A speaker of the Irish language is known as a Gaeilgeoir.

Aran Islands Group of three islands on the west coast of Ireland

The Aran Islands or The Arans are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland, with a total area of about 46 km2 (18 sq mi). They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway, Ireland.



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.

Arranmore Island in Ulster, Ireland

Árainn Mhór is an island off the west coast of County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. Arranmore is the largest inhabited island of County Donegal, with a population of 514 in 2011, down from 528 in 2006, 543 in 2002, and over 600 in 1996. The island is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht, with most of the inhabitants speaking Ulster Irish.

County Donegal County in the Republic of Ireland

County Donegal is a county of Ireland in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal in the south of the county. Donegal County Council is the local council and Lifford the county town.

The Official Languages Act 2003 is an Act of the Oireachtas of Ireland. The Act sets out rules regarding use of the Irish language by public bodies; established the office of An Coimisinéir Teanga to monitor and enforce compliance by public bodies with the provisions of the Official Languages Act; and made provision for the designation of official Irish language versions of placenames and the removal of the official status of English placenames in the Gaeltacht. The Act is being implemented on a phased basis.


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.

The Burren glaciated karst landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare, Ireland

The Burren is a region of environmental interest primarily located in northwestern County Clare, Ireland, dominated by glaciated karst landscape. It measures, depending on the definition, between 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi) and 560 square kilometres (220 sq mi). The name is most often applied to the area within the circle made by the villages of Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora, Lisdoonvarna, and Ballyvaughan, and Kinvara in extreme south-western Galway, including the adjacent coastline.

Limestone Sedimentary rocks made of calcium carbonate

Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock that is often composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, foraminifera, and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). A closely related rock is dolomite, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolomite was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolomites or magnesium-rich limestones.

Coral Marine invertebrates of the class Anthozoa

Corals are marine invertebrates within the class Anthozoa of the phylum Cnidaria. They typically live in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. Corals species include the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.

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.

Climate and agriculture

The island has an unusually temperate climate. Average air temperatures range from 15 °C in July to 6 °C in January. The soil temperature does not usually drop below 6 °C, although the end of 2010 recorded a prolonged period of snow, the first in living memory. Since grass will grow once the temperature rises above 6 °C, this means that the island (like the neighbouring Burren) has one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland or Britain, and supports a diverse and rich plant life. Late May is the sunniest time, [4] and also likely the best time to view flowers, with the gentians and avens peaking but orchid species blooming late.

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. [5] 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 .

Arctic polar region on the Earths northern hemisphere

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Northern Canada, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost -containing tundra. Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.

Alps Major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

Pearl-bordered fritillary species of insect

The pearl-bordered fritillary is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae found in Europe and northern Asia.


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. [6] 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. [7] There is a nineteenth-century lighthouse in the centre of the island, said to have views of the mountains of distant County Kerry on a clear day.

Dún Aonghasa fort

Dún Aonghasa is the best-known of several prehistoric hill forts on the Aran Islands of County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It lies on Inishmore, at the edge of a 100-metre-high (330 ft) cliff.

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.

Thatching type of roof

Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge, rushes, heather, or palm branches, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. Since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed—trapping air—thatching also functions as insulation. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries, usually with low-cost local vegetation. By contrast, in some developed countries it is the choice of some affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home, would like a more ecologically friendly roof, or who have purchased an originally thatched abode.

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. 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 and by Aer Arann Island from Inishmore Aerodrome to Connemara Airport.

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

Notable inhabitants

Aran in the Irish annals

Annals of Inisfallen (AI)


The table below reports data on Inishmore'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.

Towns and villages

Annalistic references

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

Related Research Articles

Carran Town in Munster, Ireland

Carran, sometimes also spelled "Carron", is a small village in County Clare, Ireland, in the region known as the Burren, within a civil parish of the same name. It is notable mainly for being the birthplace of Michael Cusack, the inspirer and co-founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association. At the time of the 2011 Census, Carran had 106 inhabitants.

Conmhaícne Mara

The Conmhaícne were an ancient tribal grouping that were divided into a number of distinct branches that were found scattered around Ireland in the early medieval period. They take their name from a mythical ancestor known as Con Mhac "hound son".

Iar Connacht

West Connacht was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland, associated geographically with present-day County Galway, particularly the area known more commonly today as Connemara. The kingdom represented the core homeland of the Connachta's Uí Briúin Seóla kindred and although they ruled, there were smaller groups of other Gaels in the area, such as the Delbhna Tir Dha Locha and the Conmhaícne Mara. It existed from 1051 onwards, after the Ó Conchobhair, Kings of Connacht, pushed the Ó Flaithbheartaigh to the West of Lough Corrib, from their original territory of Maigh Seóla. Iar Connacht remained a subordinate túath of Connacht, until the 13th century, after which it was more independent.

Inishmaan island on the west coast of Ireland

Inishmaan is the middle of the three main Aran Islands in Galway Bay on the west coast of Ireland. It is part of County Galway in the province of Connacht. Inishmaan has a population of about 160, making it the smallest of the Aran Islands in terms of population. It is one of the most important strongholds of traditional Irish culture. The island is predominantly Irish-speaking and part of the Gaeltacht, though all inhabitants have knowledge of English.

This is a bibliography of works relating to the Aran Islands.

Saint Enda of Aran is an Irish saint. His feast day is 21 March.

Inisheer island on the westcoast of Ireland

Inis Oírr / Inisheer, the island's official name, Inis Oirthir, meaning "east island", and traditionally Inis Thiar, meaning "rear island". It is the smallest and most eastern of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland. With about 260 permanent residents, it is more populous than Inishmaan but less than Inishmore. Caomhán of Inis Oírr is the island's patron saint. There are five primary settlements on Inis Oírr, including Baile Thiar, Baile an tSéipéil (Chapeltown), Baile an Chaisleáin, Baile an Fhormna and Baile an Lorgain.

Inis Cathaigh island

Inis Cathaigh or Scattery Island is an island in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland, off the coast of Kilrush, County Clare. The island is home to a lighthouse, a ruined monastery, an Irish round tower and the remains of an artillery battery.

Saint Colman mac Duagh was born at Cork, Kiltartan, County Galway, Ireland, the son of the Irish chieftain Duac. He initially lived as a recluse, living in prayer and prolonged fastings, first on Inismore, then in a cave at the Burren in County Clare. With his relative, King Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin of Connacht he founded the monastery of Kilmacduagh,, and governed it as abbot-bishop.

Kingdom of Breifne former country

The Kingdom of Breifne or Bréifne was a medieval overkingdom in Gaelic Ireland. It comprised what is now County Leitrim, County Cavan and parts of neighbouring counties, and corresponds roughly to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kilmore. It had emerged by the 10th century, as a confederation of túatha headed by an overking drawn from the Uí Briúin Bréifne.

Corcomroe (barony) Place in Munster, Ireland

Corcomroe is a barony in County Clare, Ireland. It is the southern half of the Gaelic tuath of Corco Modhruadh.

Inisheer Aerodrome airport in Ireland

Inisheer Aerodrome is located on the island of Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay off the coast of County Galway, Ireland. This aerodrome is licensed by the Aeronautical Services Department of the Irish Aviation Authority.

Inishmaan Aerodrome airport in Ireland

Inishmaan Aerodrome is located on the island of Inishmaan, one of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay off the coast of County Galway, Ireland. This aerodrome is licensed by the Aeronautical Services Department of the Irish Aviation Authority.

The Corcu Baiscind were an early Érainn people or kingdom of what is now southern County Clare in Munster. They descended from Cairpre Baschaín, son of Conaire Cóem, a High King of Ireland. Closely related were the Múscraige and Corcu Duibne, both of Munster, and also the Dál Riata of Ulster and Scotland, all belonging to the Síl Conairi of legend. A more distant ancestor was the legendary monarch Conaire Mór, son of Eterscél, son of Íar, son of Dedu mac Sin.

Mathgamain mac Toirdhealbhach Mantach Ó Briain, Chief of the Name of the Clan Teige Ó Briain of Aran, died 1565.

Nem Moccu Birn, Abbot of Aran, died 14 June 654.

Gillagori Ua Dubhacan was Abbot of Aran, Ireland.


  1. 1 2 "Inishmore - Árainn". Fáilte Ireland . Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  2. "The Best of Ancient Ireland". Frommer's. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  3. Inc, Fodor's Travel Publications (2 August 2011). "Fodor's See It Ireland". Fodor's Travel Publications via Google Books.
  4. Éireann, Met. "Met Éireann - The Irish Weather Service".
  5. 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.
  6. Mario De Carli. "Prehistoric Forts". Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  7. Harbison, Peter (1 April 1995). Pilgrimage in Ireland: The Monuments and the People. Syracuse University Press. pp. 93ff. ISBN   978-0-8156-0312-2 . Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  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. "WATCH: Dermot Kennedy's stunning new video set on the Aran Islands". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  11. "Dermot Kennedy releases new video filmed on Inis Mór". 13 January 2019.
  12. Gillan, P. J. (1 January 2004). "Bridget Dirrane" via The Guardian.
  13. 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 )