The aran islands
I kept envisioning myself at the edge of a cliff, alone, looking out into the horizon, the rain whipping at my face, the wind rolling down my back and only my internal voice and the triumphant combustion of clouds overhead to answer to. Call it melancholy, call it whatever you want, but beyond all the cacophony of life one must take a time out, go wild. I was a girl gone wild.
The Arans, are a group of three islands with a total population of 1200 people. The attraction or lack thereof to the islands and its culture is due to the fact that it is very much an isolated community, consisting of farmers and fisherman who do not engage with tourism, nor mainstream media, nor luxuries of the outside world. It is said that even their temperament is influenced by the extreme weather conditions which surround them. The entire island is a grid of karst limestone which dates back to the Visean age, approx. 400 million years ago. The limestone walls were built in the 12th century alongside a simple church which is now called Kilcananagh. You can walk for miles and traverse the entire island using these limestone paths as a guide and most likely never see another soul.
DO. Sex on the Beach
Upon my arrival in Shannon, I organized a taxi to take me to the port of Doolin and bought a ticket on the aptly named, Happy Hooker ferry, to get to the The Arans Islands.
After purchasing my ticket I walked down to the pier with the most intense wind pushing at my back that made my hair stand on end. I looked out at the turquoise almost tropical blue Atlantic Ocean, which was quite alarming for Ireland and honestly, took a deep breath. In the distance, I saw her, bouncing gleefully towards me, a true Happy Hooker.. if there ever was one.
I road that hooker all the way to Inishmaan, the middle and least populated of the three islands. I spent three days there, wandering, hiking and meeting myself at the edge of cliffs. I stayed in an Airbnb with my host, Martin and his family, Martin was a local fisherman. There was no wifi, and I was slightly disoriented when I arrived from the lack of, well, everything.
SHOP. FISHERMAN's FRIEND
Inis Meain Knitting Co. For the world's finest hand knit sweaters look no further. I purchased four while I was there, you can purchase online and if you are lucky enough to shop in this island sanctuary search the sale items for great deals. They are my favorite sweaters I have ever purchased.
The highlight was walking one afternoon for seven hours to a set of distant cliffs my waitress from the evening before had told me about. I began at an open expanse of stone plates which I hopped from one to the next as if in some intergalactic medieval tap dance. As you move from plate to plate the sound was like the clacking of a large and hollow high heel… Is that you oh eternal fashion god? Decider of trends?... Maybe not..moving on..
Passing the meadow you enter a narrow labyrinth of stonewalls that takes you a solid thirty minutes to traverse. I finally started to see the cliffs ahead of me and the ground below began to change shape. The texture of the stone became more sponge like. The cliffs ahead were black and doomed with white waves and mist that thundered up its edges.
My heart pounded with excitement but I still had to cross the last three hundred feet which became much less stable and was literally just a pile of rocks. I carefully took each step undoubtedly losing my balance and then just said fuck it, threw caution to the wind and started a high knee child’s run up the piles, climbing higher and higher, finally reaching the cliffs. The sensation of these diabolical ends after hiking all day, not a soul in sight, and only a violent symphony of the water beneath me was quite fulfilling to say the least. I could only get about ten feet from the edge as my shoes started slipping due to an invisible algae which covered the surface. If I had fallen to my death no one would have none.
The waves crashed in the distance and beneath me, mist rolled up the sides and sea foam broke off and flew upwards.
It swirled past me and had a cyclical movement that reminded me of a DNA strand. With the wind chasing me, the sky changed from rain to sun to cloud within minutes of each other as if in a time lapse or some kind of psychedelic hallucination. I sat for at least an hour with myself, with the wind, with these cliffs. Without any crazy realizations, I felt closer to something. I felt a sense of trust in myself, and felt that sense extend itself past my physical body, past my finger tips and into thin air.
Enter Peter, my favorite character in the plot thus far. I always brought my plate into the kitchen after eating at Martins and after doing so this morning I was greeted by a man at least 65/70 years old in a leather news boy cap, which I never saw him without, rectangular glasses and suspenders which curved arounds his belly at a proper 180 degree angle. Peter became my father figure over the course of my few days on the island. He looked after me and would appear in what seemed intentional moments to move me forward on my journey. As he spoke he would keep one eye closed which gave him a real broodish look, but there was not mistaking the kindness and spirit of this exceptional human.
Peter's accent was something out of a fine film and I loved every minute spent with him. I was gathering my bag for the day and Peter took me outside around the corner of the house so he could smoke his cigarette. He showed me the corner of the island where I should begin my hike and then told me he and his wife would take me to the pub later for a pint and some crack. To my disbelief, crack is in fact an expression for having a laugh, of which I had many. Here is the last time I saw Peter when he took a lock of my hair for a memento of our friendship.
Always reconfirm your taxi. I almost missed my ferry ( there is only 1 in the afternoon ) because the taxi company forgot to pick me up. I waited outside patiently and calm with Peter's wife until I saw my taxi pass by the house with a group of people After stressing out and having someone's cousin from the taxi company pick me up, I arrived at the ferry with no sign of the Happy Hooker but many people waiting patiently at the slate port.
As the Happy Hooker finally approached I knew all was well and once again a friends voice spoke in my head, " You've got nothing to worry about! The universe will not lead you astray!" And of course, it did not. This time when I got on the ferry, I sat on the outside of the boat, hat on, leg up and sailed feeling fresh and alive. My playlist led the way and the current of the tide danced to it in those funny coincidences and I felt glad. As we approached the shore we saw snorkelers swimming with a wild dolphin, both in black, they were sinister but beautiful. As we left the boat, my driver John, was waiting for me. A friend of Aidan's, John loaded by things in the back of the van and we were off. It started to pour rain, so I fell asleep for our 4 hour 200 euro ride, when I arrived we had reach Dingle, a small surf town further down the coast.