The snot green sea. The scrotum tightening sea.
A perfect autumn day, a picturesque island and good friends – is there any better advertisement for an Irish vacation than the pristine beaches and ancient monuments of the Aran Islands?
Pascal delivered us to the ferry terminal, and a short boat trip latter we disembarked on to Inishmore for an island tour. By bike, by horse drawn carriage or by rust encrusted van we set out of from Kilronan ferry terminal to circumnavigate the island, first stop Dun Aenghus. The stone fort sits precariously on the cliff edge, the sea having claimed almost half of the original structure over the centuries but it remains an imposing feature on the island landscape.
At the foot of the trial we lunched on the ‘best tomato soup’ (according to Barry), and found it to be a very pleasing lunch for a warm autumn day. Local shops sell the famous Aran Jumpers made from the local wool, the skill of these knitters is obvious and the intricate textured patterns remind me of the fisherman who relied on these thick woollen jumpers to keep them warm against the freezing Atlantic gales.
After lunch we headed off to complete our sprint around Inishmore, the island hosted a rich monastic life from 500 to 900 A.D. during the Age of Saints and Scholars including Columba who founded the monastery on Iona that would produce the Book of Kells. In a tiny corner of the Seven Churches, a few graves are marked as the Romans, a testament to the Inishmore scholars these men travelled from Rome to study the Holy texts in this lonely outpost of Christianity.
Before returning to Kilronan, we stopped at the pristine waters of Kilmurvey Beach (Trá Chill Mhuirbhigh), one of five Blue Flag beaches in County Galway. The Blue Flag is awarded to beaches and marinas that meet a specific set of criteria including:
• Environmental Information and Education
• Water Quality
• Safety and Services
• Environmental Management
A few hardy souls dipped their toes in the cold Atlantic water but most of us were satisfied with a stroll along the beach with thoughts of summer on our minds.
Yugi roams Inishmore, patrolling his domain as the tourists flow across his home like fleas over a dog. His owner is a Japanese Inishmore resident but clearly Yugi is in charge here. We saw him at every stop from the ferry terminal to Dun Aenghus to the beach, clearly he knew all the shortcuts because he often got there first.