Located at the entrance to Galway Bay in western Ireland, the three Aran Islands have majestic cliffs falling into the Atlantic, a lattice of hand-built stone walls and a multitude of Bronze Age forts and Celtic churches.
Each island has its own historical significance. Inishmore, the largest, is home to Dún Aonghasa, a clifftop stone fort and UNESCO World Heritage site dating to 1100 B.C. The highlight of Inishmaan is the Bronze Age Conor’s Fort, a hilltop ring fort. And Inisheer, the smallest and most remote of the islands, boasts several national monuments, including Creggankeel Fort and an early Christian site known as the Grave of the Seven Sisters.
After several days of hiking around Cashel House Hotel, we booked a ferry with Aran Island Ferries to Inishmore. The boat left from Rossaveal in Connemara, a 22-mile drive away, and took just 40 minutes. It docked at Kilronan, a tiny fishing village crammed with shops selling traditional hand-knit Aran sweaters. Most visitors rent bicycles to explore Inishmore, and several competing vendors hailed us as soon as we disembarked.