Eye of the Tiger

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Europe » Ireland » County Galway » Aran Islands
June 21st 2009
Published: June 21st 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Edge ofthe worldEdge ofthe worldEdge ofthe world

At the Dan Aonghusa fort
We're in Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands, all 14K of it. We've been so lucky with the weather, our guide Emily told me last night "you should sell your blood, you're that lucky." We spend 7 hours hiking yesterday, some it a tough slog over rock fields. It's a beautifully barren place - a limestone island where there was so little soil, the early settlers had to break up the stone fields and "create" soil with kelp and sand - backbreaking work. Once the small patches of field were cleared, the farmers built dry stone walls with what they took out and they create a patchwork around the place. It's wild and untamed and very primative here and the people, who still speak mainly Irish, are lovely. The rock cliffs take your breath away. We went up to thje ancient ruin of the Dun Aonghasa fort - built around the time the Egyptians were contemplating the pyramids. We lay on our bellies on the warm stone and inched to the edge to look hundreds of feet down to the churning surf.
One of my most fantastic disoveries has been this tiny 24-seat screening room a charming and clever local fellow named Gearoid Browne has created above his cafe - just to screen Man of Aran, Robert J. Flaherty's demi-doc made here in 1934. It's a fantastic piece of filmmaking. I can't believe the shots he was able to get. The locals are proud the film made them famous, but snort at the fraud of the movie - Flaherty was obsessed with showing life as he though it was here, although a lot of what he recreated was from 100 years previous. Three locals starred in the mostly-silent movie, including a guy named Colman Tiger King. Handsome, strong-looking, not a bad actor.
Last night we ate a local hostel which has this chef from Martinique - a rare black face in all-white Aran - who cooked the most incredible buffet of local dishes, all with interesting twists. We brought our own wine and dined with some local fellas and it was amazing. So now I'm off to Joe Wattie's pub about a km. down the road (how handy it's between town and our B&B) to hear some music and then back to the hostel for dinner again. An early start for us tomorrow - the 7 a.m. ferry to the mainland and then a long drive back to Dublin. I'll be sad to say goodbye to my small group. We've had a great time. But tonight promises a good craic - Arianna is obsessed with "doing the Irish dancing" so we'll have fun for sure. Hope the crossing is more calm than coming over after our late night.
More from Dublin tomorrow.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Man of Aran cottageMan of Aran cottage
Man of Aran cottage

Flaherty built this for the film, and then only shot a couple of interiors here - it's now a B&B
sweet shop by the seasweet shop by the sea
sweet shop by the sea

On the coast road back to town - the wee house is for the leprachauns and you see them all over
stopping for lunchstopping for lunch
stopping for lunch

we ate our sandwiches in this field, then all stretched out for a nap, listening to the sea below us
misty morningmisty morning
misty morning

the west coast of Inis Mor
lady walking her doglady walking her dog
lady walking her dog

His name is Blackie and he can shake a paw
chickens at the Star Barchickens at the Star Bar
chickens at the Star Bar

the pub is closed, but the fowl don't give a cluck.
full Irishfull Irish
full Irish

Now THAT's breakfast
let this be a warning...let this be a warning...
let this be a warning...

sign at the hostel reception. Can I get one for my desk?
The wormholeThe wormhole
The wormhole

a natural pool in the rock

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