Saturday, March 29, 2008

Megalithic Forts

Aran Island, County Galway


After a good breakfast we loaded into the bus and headed to Rossaveal west of Galway to catch the ferry to Aran Island.  We went to the main of three islands, Aran and loaded into mini buses for the grand tour.


The island is 2 x 9 miles, and has 3000 miles of stone fences.  Everything is made out of rock. Rock walls, rock houses, rock streets, you get the picture. Except for the houses and rock walls, the island is swept clean of anything more than a few inches tall by the strong north Atlantic storms.


The Celts have inhabited the island for thousands of years, and the locals still speak Gaelic (Celtic, or Irish, depending on whom you speak to) one of the last strongholds of the language.  Aran is also famous for hand knitted sweaters, formerly made of unwashed wool for its water repellant properties. They wash it now, the smell was somewhat of a turnoff for tourists.


Megalithic Forts


The island has 4 Celtic stone forts, with a stunning triple-walled fort set at the top of a 300 foot vertical cliff. Wouldn't you know, it's made of rock.  It's about a 20 minute walk up the hill, and when you get there, the view is spectacular.  No guardrails, you can walk and sit on the cliff's edge.  The fort is stacked rock, with no cement, it's all held together by the weight of the rocks.


The fort and scenery are fantastic, but the best was to describe it is windy and cold.  It's hard to believe where the Irish have set up their castles and forts.  It's spring now, and it's still cold enough to freeze rocks.  After climbing the hill, you're a little warm, but that feeling goes away real quickly.  The wind almost lifts you, and you've got to be careful or you'll go over the side.  And you wouldn't come up.


After our tour, we headed back to the harbor for a wait for the ferry.  In the pub, of course.



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