Approaching from the west or east, Inishmaan (Inis Meáin, “Middle Island”) looks like a rising wave about to break over Galway Bay to the north. From the grey, fissured limestone pavement at its northern end, tiny, green pastures separated by a maze of dry-stone walls rise to the main east–west ridge – along which lies a ribbon of villages – while the “back of the island” beyond slopes off more gradually to the south. This is the most unspoilt of the Arans, and the most thoroughly Irish-speaking (though English is understood), where people are still mostly engaged in farming and fishing. Wild salmon are caught from black, pointed currachs – now with outboard motors – and on Sundays, older women wear traditional multicoloured shawls to go with their thick woollen skirts. The island’s historic sites are on a smaller scale than Inishmore’s – though the imposing ring fort of Dún Conchúir is worth singling out – and there are far fewer amenities, but for some people this tranquil, low-key place will be the perfect getaway.
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