Inisheer, or Inis Oírr, is the smallest of the Aran Islands and the closest to the Clare coastline, with the Cliffs of Moher clearly visible from it’s shores. This tiny island, measuring just 3km by 3km, has a small fishing village feel to it. For it’s small population of just over 300 inhabitants, Inisheer has a lot to offer it’s visitors, from traditional farming methods and Irish music, to ancient sites dating back earlier than the 11th century and it’s famous shipwreck; Inisheer does not disappoint.
Upon approach to the Island, the famous rusty-red MV Plassy shipwreck looms tilted from the eastern beach in all it’s glory. This was formerly a cargo ship which ran onto some rocks near the island in 1960 but luckily no lives were lost in the shipwreck, mainly due to the bravery of the local islanders who risked their own lives in rough seas to come to the aid of the sailors on board the ship. (This shipwreck was also made famous in the opening credits of the Irish TV series Father Ted).
Along with the shipwreck, there are also ancient structures to be found, including the O’Brien’s Castle and Tower (Dún Formna) which overlooks the island and was built by the rulers of the area in the 1500s. This castle matches it’s sister at the Cliffs of Moher which also served as a stronghold for the O’Brien’s. Along the shoreline, you will find the previously sand-covered Tempall Chaomháin or St Kevin’s Church. This half-sunked church dates back to the 9th or 10th century and since that time, a stone wall surrounds the ruins, in the hopes to exclude the encroaching sand. Further west on the island, the remains of the church site Cill Gnobnait can be found. This church was dedicated to St Gobnait though all that remains inside is the initial altar and outside there is one of the celebrated ‘beehive’ dry stone huts used as a hermit cell by early Christian monks. These corbel-roofed stone ‘beehive huts’ are referred to as clocháns.
Cnoc Raithní is hugely important Bronze Age burial mound, which was almost hidden under sand forever, until a major storm in 1885, uncovered the site. The site itself consists of a sandy mound 21m in diameter, while inside lies a cist, formed by a circle of upright slabs standing 4ft high. On the top, the remains of slab lined graves can be seen, as well as 2 small limestone pillars. Artefacts found at Cnoc Raithní date back to 800BC, and the mound is thought to have been in use between 1500BC to 500BC.
With these sites (and so much more to see on the island), cycling is the best way to get around and we offer you a chance to sit back, relax while we organize everything needed for our day out; including your ferry tickets and lunch, not to mention bikes and guides! So what are you waiting for?
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