We arrived early at the Doolin Ferry Docks. Still several weeks from "high season", we had reserved tickets for the 1100 ferry. A mostly empty 1000 ferry was ready to go so when we were offered an early ride, we jumped on.
The 20 knot SW wind & 6-8 foot seas on a short interval made the 30 minute ride, less than calm. It's easy to see that this stretch of water could become a "nasty piece if work" in poor conditions. In fact, we had been warned about getting trapped on the island, since the ferries don't run in bad conditions.
After a calm docking in the Islands lee, we stepped off the ferry and thought we were in the Bahamas! This is an island with white sand beaches, teal blue water, abundant seafood harvests, and ultra-friendly people, did we make a wrong turn somewhere? One barefoot step into the surf, which is 40 degrees colder, will wake you from THAT dream!
There are no tour bus crowds here as back in Doolin. There, we saw tour busses stacked several deep with tourists on a time schedule. So much to see with too little time, these "guided tourists" seem always in a hurry to snap a picture and move on. We have enjoyed the slower pace.
Arriving, on the island, early in the morning has its advantages. We walked past tour guides with horse drawn traps (carts) into a quant & empty pub. No, too early for that, but we did have tea and a homemade scone. Then, on to an early check in with our host Kieran, at Creagan Bed & Breakfast
As usual, we took the rest of the first day to just walk around, talk to people, and make a sightseeing plan. We found on Inis Oirr, residents surpass the usual, ultra-friendly & helpful Irish standards. Also, if you start a conversation, don't think your going to end it quickly with a wave goodbye. These are proud people with strong ties to this island. They have a lot to tell you, if you are willing to listen.
Locals are not use to tourists, especially Americans, coming to Inis Oirr for an extended stay. Usually staying no more than the two hours between ferries, it was interesting to see their faces when we said we would be here 3-nights!
With Kieran's recommendation, we ate lots of really fresh seafood. The Hotel, which also doubles as a pub, cafe', & restaurant. Serves a great Atlantic Seafood Chowder. Somewhat like NC Down-East Chowder, but has fish, crab, shrimp, scollops, mussels, and even squid. Also, at The Sea Weed, we enjoyed fresh Dingle crab claws. They are similar to stone crab claws, excellent and served cold. We rarely take pictures of food but, in this case a picture says it all...;)
To get to the more remote locations of the island, one morning we rented bikes. Armed with a map with the points of interest, we were off. Our first stop was the rarely visited SW corner of Inis Oirr. We were told, "when you run out of trail just park your bike and walk".
On the way we passed these ruins of a fort which dates back to 1500BC.
Along the narrow coastal road we took a minute to stop to see the islands memorial to sailors lost at sea.
The water at this part of the island has quite a bit of kelp. It's also amazing to watch the huge rolling waves that started somewhere around Boston, pound the coast.
The moderate, SW prevailing winds, gave the perfect condition for a sailboat to have a wonderful day on the water.
The weather also gave us great conditions to explore.
Next, we visited a spot known as the Holy Well. When Christian missionaries came to Inis Oirr they were met by Celts who had their own beliefs. Both believed the well had holy waters which both shared for for ceremonies and rituals.
The An Plassy shipwreck is probably the most photographed landmark on the island. In 1960, after suffering engine failure it came to rest on this beach.
Before a salvage crew could remove it a storm pushed it above the high tide line, breaking it's back on the rocks.
The ruins of four stone churches going back over 1000 years, dot the island. Cill Ghobnail, built in the 11th century. Built to honor a 6th century saint who was born in this region of Ireland.
Another is St. Kevin's Church, built in the 10th century in honor of St. Chaomhain the patron saint of the island. At one time this church was built on a rock foundation but over the centuries, a sand dune had nearly buried the structure.
Every June, residents hold a festival in celebration of their saint, who is buried in the cemetery nearby. The details in the stone carvings are still visible.
Churches aren't the only old structures here. This 15th century fort and Castle gives a a wonderful view.
Most likely why another watch tower was built beside it in the 18th century.
Late one day we went to see the islands lighthouse. Located on the SE end of the island the light marks a dangerous shoal.
The Light-keepers building is in ruins and the light is now fully automated.
As the sun dipped in the west the sun passing through the fresnel lens gave us a a spectrum of light.
Why Grabbers? Well unlike the Sci-Fi movie with the same name, these islands can hold on to you with their stunning beauty, quiet surroundings, and friendly people.
Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy