Aran Islands – Inishmore (Kilronan)

The journey from Fenit started with us catching a pot not far out of the harbour.  It has been a battle the entire time we have been sailing to avoid fishing nets and pots in the water.  Some are marked really great with high visibility flags, some even have lights, others with buoys some brightly coloured but the majority look like they have been in the sea for 10+ years and are covered in growth and hard to spot and then you get the black 2 litre oil containers that are almost impossible to see until you are on them, the last thing we want is rope around the propeller.  We do have a rope cutter on the propellar but it will not cut everything and will not stop damage if we get in a big tangle.  Anyway Phil had spotted the pot and went clear of it, but to his surprise the line (rope) was extremely long and floating just below the water at least 20 meters from the buoy (being low tide and most likely had dragged to shallower water in the storm).  We were lucky to be able to untangle it easily over the stern, we think it just caught on the rudders rather than the prop thank goodness.  Luck of the day 15 minutes later Luskell also caught one, but again were able to cut it free easy.  The day didn’t get any better as the further out we went away from bays and into the exposed coast and ocean towards Inishmore the remnants of the storm were thrashing us about with a large swell left over from the day before.  I (Maree) was sick, vomiting a couple of times, but felt fine as soon as I got it out of my system.

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Red Roo Sailing out of Fenit in mild conditions that soon detieriated to plain ugly

We took some impressive pictures of Luskell travelling along near us with the bow up in the air then crashing into the waves but they quickly made better time than us (much lighter boat and braver sailors (we had a reef in to reduce sail size) where as Honri flew in the wind with all the sail he had.  Marie (from Luskell) said she had a rough trip also and felt terrible with illness.

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Honri and Marie SV Luskell

It was a relief to get to Inishmore and I must confess we didn’t really appreciate the scenery along the way which is quite famous as part of the Wild Atlantic Way (I would highly recommend researching the Wild Atlantic Way for any of you looking to explore Ireland any other way than by Yacht) the most famous of that region being the Cliffs of Moher standing 702 feet above the Atlantic with the waves continuously crashing into them (with the sea as rough as it was I didn’t need cliffs to appreciate crashing waves!)

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SV Luskell and Red Roo in the calm Inishmore Harbour

The island of Inis Mór (Inishmore) meaning the big island (part of the Aran Islands), is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland.  It is well known internationally with over 50 different monuments of Christian, pre Christian and Celtic mythological heritage. There isn’t far you can go before being somewhere where there’s something of historical interest and little reason to question its importance in modern Irish Culture.

It is different to anywhere or anything I have seen before, it is an island almost entirely made of rocks and stones (very litle pasture) – which in itself isn’t that big a deal but to think people lived, farmed and survived on it for centuries that is the amazing part.  The island also famous for the sheep and wool coming from the islands (Aran jumpers).  We explored the whole island over a couple of days walking and on our bikes visiting each of the famous forts and many of the monuments.

The western end of the island away from our anchorage actually had some pasture which was a relief for the residents but the majority of the island seemed to be paddocks of rocks, the paddock walls being constructed of island rocks.  It really seemed to be rock walled paddocks growing rock!  By far the most impressive part of the island was Black Fort or as the Aran Islands community refer to it traditionally as Dun Duchathair (the black fort).  This rock formation thought to be from the bronze age (that’s 500-1500 BC) and still standing strong (even after we climbed over it), it is imposing and bold on the southern side of the island, it is mind blowing.  Nearby is also where Red Bull holds its famous cliff diving competition, where upon viewing this place firmly confirmed the entrants need to be certified crazy to compete, why else would they jump!

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We also had a boat anchor near us that was support boat for Maghnus who was swimming around Ireland, yes doing a lap of the entire island swimming.  They were making their way back to Clifden where they last left off from the swim a couple of weeks ago.  What an incredible feat to be taking this on for charity – best of luck Maghnus!

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