The Five Senses of Inis Mór

Green kelp, smooth gray stones, and silvery fish in the clear, clear water. The gray heads of seals bobbing up and down in the white-capped waves; looking for all the world like scuba divers with their smooth skulls and stubby snouts. 

Green fields, curving stone walls laid out like veins on an old, pale hand. It’s rocky ground, unfit for cattle grazing. Centuries ago, farmers dragged the rocks to form the walls; freed up the ground for grazing, still keep the cattle where they’re supposed to be. Dotted throughout the island, crumbling ruins of homes and churches; the hearths still discernible in the weeds. Looming forts on jagged cliffs, seem like miles above the crashing blue-green sea. 

Aran jumpers draped on a door at the museum and market; greens and whites and grays and pinks and blues. Generations ago, distinctive patterns were knit so fishermen could be identified by their families if they drowned. 

Horse drawn carriages. Compact cars squeezing down the narrow roads. Pubgoers at The American Bar or Tí Joe Watty’s drawing on their Guinness. Youths sniggering outside the Spar Mart; home of the island’s only ATM. Ferries parked at the pier. French tourists on bicycles asking the locals for directions to Dun Aengus. 

Cavorting horses in the paddocks, sullen cows, bobbing roosters, goats with two legs yoked together. Tiny, furry white kids, wobbly black calves. All stop and stare at passerby, chewing their cud like spectators at a film. How rude. 


Crashing waves. Whistling breeze. Chugging cars. Clip-clopping hooves. A thick blur of Irish, woven through with English, then back to Irish again. How do they know when to say “Hello,” or “Dia dhuit” – can they tell a native speaker on sight? 

Screeching gulls. Moos. Waves of trad music floating from a pub. Chirp. Mehhh. Splash. Peace. 


Salt and sea and sand. Pungent cow dung smashed in the road, as if to better release its scent. Sweet, flowery grass on the cliffs. The sharp brine of stout; the slow roast of salt beef drifting from a pub. 


Chilly breeze, hair standing straight up on the arms; the warm embrace of the sun, take the sweater off. Rocks, rough to the touch; pebbles wobbly and rough on the ankles. Muscles that ache after hours of cycling into the pink sunset. 


Full Irish on a plate in the morning – rashers smoky and thick, puddings firm and salty, a tart tomato on the side. Delicate beer batter, crisp on the tender white flesh of fresh-caught Aran fish. Creamy seafood chowder thick with mussels, salmon, and mealy potatoes. Hot, strong Barry’s tea in a cup.


One Reply to “The Five Senses of Inis Mór”

  1. Beautiful writing, beautiful pictures. I bought a sweater at that sweater shop. LOVED the Aran islands, and would love to spend more time than just a day trip there.

Leave a Reply

4 × 3 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.