Guardian Travel: Catherine Mack in the Aran Islands

In this weekend’s Guardian, travel writer Catherine Mack shares her experiences of Ireland’s Travel Edits | Guardian Travel: Catherine Mack in the Aran Islandsremote Aran Islands with Guardian Travel readers.

Her article focuses on the island of Inis Meáin, where she meets with Inis Meáin hotel owner Ruairí de Blacam.

In her own inimitable way, Mack describes the sparse landscape of the island and the somewhat camouflaged appearance of the hotel, which she says is a “long, low-lying glass and stone building that is more like an Andy Goldsworthy creation than a hotel.”

Her description of the interior is equally inviting.

Want to know more about Inis Meáin?

Get the essential facts below…

Inis Meáin Express Fact File:

  • Inis Meáin is the middle island of the three Aran Islands.  The island has a population of around 225 inhabitants, who live mostly on the sheltered high ground of the island.
  • The island is reached by ferry from Galway. The average duration of the crossing is 45 minutes.
  • Inis Meáin is the least visited of the three Aran Islands.
  • The island is famous for its undulating landscape which offers unrivalled views of the Cliffs of Moher.
  • Inis Meáin was a creative refuge for John Millington Synge, one of Ireland’s most celebrated playwrights.
  • JM Synge’s life-long love for Inis Meáin started in 1903 after he travelled to the island upon hearing wonderful things from fellow writer W.B. Yeats. Synge was especially enamoured by the culture and traditions of the local people on the island.
  • Diving is becoming an increasingly popular activity off the coast of the island.
  • Cultural courses in poetry and dance are favourites with tourists.
  • Important historical sites on the island include Dún Fearbhaí, a fort which over-looks the main pier. Dún Fearbhaí is most famous for its unique shape, it is almost completely square in form, rather than the usual round shape. The terraces inside the walls are thought to have been used for defensive purposes or for special ceremonies.


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