Last weekend I went away to visit the very remote Aran Island, Inis Meain. Myself and my lifelong friend Robert (armed with a camera) set off on the long journey from Liverpool to Cork on the plane, picked up a brand spanking golf and booted it up the motorway to Galway (130mile) where we ended out on the ale until 3am celebrating a emphatic Warrington win Irish style.
The Island is only accessible by boat or plane. Naturally we went for the most exciting and expensive option with the plane. The plane was an 8 seater and it was terrifying. It was the smallest plane I had ever been on and the wind was atrocious. We landed on the island and there is certainly no public transport or taxis there! We walked up to the hotel to be greeted by the lovely hotel owners, found out some information and then set off to take a look around.
Our preferred method of transport on the island was a push rod. Complete with suspension, mud guards and a bell. It was an absolute pleasure to ride.
We set out on our tour of the island and took some fantastic photos. The island is incredibly remote (150 people) and the terrain is very bumpy and consists mainly of limestone. Houses are scattered about the island, some still have thatched roofs whereas others are more modern. The island has one hotel, one shop and a pub. They live incredibly basically and it was fascinating to see their world in comparison to mine. The focus of their lives is on verbal communication, most of which is done in Gaelic. They don’t really have any money so materialistic goods are very rare. Some families had chickens, cows or pigs and they would also grow their own vegetables.
After delving a bit deeper into the islanders I found that many of the residents were in fact on the dole (much to the uproar of the mainland people). It’s a tricky situation, they are Ireland citizens and need to be accounted for but there is absolutely now way they are able to obtain employment. There is nothing on the island besides a clothing factory, airstrip, boat docks, the pub and a small shop.
The boat to the mainline costs around $20 return, drops at a remote Galway location and takes over an hour. No job is really viable unless it paid decent money. The islanders are just happy to get by taking the money and living peacefully and simply on the island. Some have been innovative and taken advantage of the little tourism they experience by hiring bikes which was nice to see.
Anyway we finished the photographs for the day around 2-30pm, absolutely freezing and headed back to the hotel where we were greeted by a roaring fire. We got straight on the ale, and made friends with some other American visitors and had a great chat with the hotel owners and some other locals. 5 pints and a little nap later we headed straight up to the local boozer and plonked ourselves in the cosy little bar which had around a dozen islanders inside. The inhabitants seemed to be very reserved and cautious towards us initially but we soon won them around. Amazingly at 11pm 60 young Irish students came from nowhere and entered the pub (they were on the island for 2 weeks learning Gaelic) we had a fantastic night and eventually walked home in the pitch black around 3am.
The next day we went to see the rest of the island and stumbled across some famous landmark where John Millington Synge, a famous Irish playwright used to sit and write his scripts. We said our goodbyes and made our way back to Galway, then Cork and finally Liverpool again.
Back in Liverpool we headed to a £25, dive of a holiday-inn near Runcorn, logged onto our internet and the next day we went to see old Trafford, had Frankie and Bennys for dinner and then Rob got the train home (notice anything dissimilar?).
I appreciate the way the Islanders live their lives and admire the way in which verbal communication is fundamental to their lives, something that has changed beyond recognition in the UK since I was a small boy. However I am more than happy to be back on my Macbook pro, watching sky and writing this blog post on the Internet. It was a great three days but I’m too accustomed to my life in the UK to think any other existence would be better.
Thanks for reading. Take a look at some more of my Instgram shots below!