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The Impenetrable Fort of Inis Mór

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

When we visited Tory Island and Inshcleer (Clare Island), we were the only tourists there. The islands were so small and so infrequently visited that there weren’t any shops selling tourist items. Not so with the Inis Mór, one of the Aran island that we visited. When I walked down the pier and into town I encountered many tourists, some in groups and some individuals who booked a stay on the island. There were several shops selling Aran sweaters, a few coffee shops, and at least two restaurants. (Image: Sign in front of one of the waterfront restaurants.)

I walked past the shops and hopped onto a minibus that took some of our group to the far end of the island, where we visited an ancient Christian site founded by St. Brecan. It was full of old gravestones, ruins of medieval buildings, and wonderful views of the countryside. It also appeared that there was a more recent burial. Coincidentally, our visit coincided with St. Brecan's Day.

The focus of our trip to the Aran islands was Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric fort located on the edge of a sheer cliff (100 m tall). Walls encircle the area, but the cliff part is exposed. I suspect that unruly visitors could be shown out the “back door” where they would fall to their death. The cheveaux de frise is one of the largest ever built. The layers of defensive building, from the curving uphill path to the fort, the concentric stone walls, and the sharp points of the cheveaux de frise are perhaps why the fort was never attacked. There are simply too many obstacles to ensure a successful offense. (Image: The cheveaux de frise)

After landing back in the center of town (which was about 2 blocks long), I did the usual tourist things—enjoyed a tea and scone, bought a few Aran scarves, and then drank a cold Guinness in the local pub. All my life I’ve been told that Guinness must be drunk warm. Yet in Ireland this is not the case. I enjoy cold Guinness much more. (Image: A bird whose name a birder would know. To me, it's a singing bird.)

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