1/19/06

The End of the Earth

Last Tuesday, my "1000 Places to See Before You Die" desktop calendar featured the destination of the Aran Islands, three small "stepping stones out of Europe," as Seamus Heaney called them, situated a few miles off the coast of Ireland. The calendar page describes the islands as a "windblown ... pocket-size window onto the hardscrabble life of centuries past." About 1,500 people live on the islands, most speaking English only as a second language.

To get there, you drive west from Galway and board a ferry in Rossaveal, and once the ferry has chugged you 30-40 minutes across Galway Bay you disembark and either hire a local resident to cart you around the island with his pony or rent a bicycle.

Penny and I rented bicycles.

Maybe it's just because the weather finally broke that day, turning our freezing rain-soaked honeymoon into a sunny jaunt through the countryside, or just the fact that we were on our honeymoon, but I remember the island of Inis Mór as one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen.

Once you reach the highest point, Dun Aonghasa, you stand there with the Atlantic wind blowing at your back, and look out over the island, with the sea visible all around it, and the gentle slope of the landscape leading up to your feet, and the web of stone fences separating the grassy fields, and you realize why people have gone to the trouble of making their homes here for thousands of years.

Inis Mor

Windblown Tree, Horsie

Lope On Cliff

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks beautiful...

penelope said...

I remember so vividly...

Thomas said...

very nice pictures.