This is the main village of Inis Mór and is one of them most picturesque spots in Ireland. Once for the sole purpose as a fishing port for the Aran fisherman, today it is the main port for the ferry companies, main area for festivals. With its adjoining white sandy beach it is a splendid spot to people watch and a base yourself before exploring the island.
The islands strike one immediately as being like a desert of rock. They are in fact a continuation of the ‘boireann’ (burren) limestone rock in Co. Clare to which they were once joined millions of years ago. Owing to the limestone landscape the islands enjoy a rare flora and fauna and are a haven for botanists. From May time onwards the visitor can enjoy a tremendous profusion of colour which marks an attractive contrast to the grey limestone rock. The warmth of the Bloody Crane’s- Bill (Crobh Dhearg) or Spring Gentian (Ceadharlach Bealtaine) in bloom are just two such examples among many. Some flowers such as Purple Milk Vetch are uniquely found in Inis Mór and Inis Meáin and are not found elsewhere in Ireland.
Stone Forts & Cliffs
The Irish word Dún means fort and the islands are famous for their stone forts. These are thought to date from the late Bronze age (1100 BC) through to the Iron age (300BC-500 AD). There are a number of forts found on the three islands. They are part of a complex of such structures found along the west coast of Ireland from Donegal in the north to Kerry in the south. Over the past decade a number of these forts including Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór have been excavated as part of ‘The Western Stone Forts Project’. What the function of these forts was is unclear. Some suggest as well as being habitation sites they may also have been used for ritual purposes.
Dún Dúchathair (The Black Fort)
This fort is situated on the cliffs at Cill Éinne, (Killeany) Inis Mór. Some visitors enjoy the solitude of it in contrast with the busyness of Dún Aonghasa. The fort consists of a terraced wall surrounding the remains of some early dwelling houses known as Clocháns (stone houses). Excavations have not been out carried yet so exact dates cannot be given but it is thought to be possibly contemporary with Dún Aonghasa. It is understood that the name the Black Fort comes from the dark coloured limestone which is characteristic of this particular area on the island.
This fort is found in the middle of the island south of the village of Eochaill from which it gets its name. Eochaill meaning Yew wood. The fort is circular and consists of two terraced walls. Exact dates are not known but it is thought to be somewhat later than Dún Aonghasa possibly late Iron Age. It is easily accessed from the main road. Nearby are the remains of an early nineteenth century Light House which while on the highest point of the island was too badly placed to ever have been of any effective use. Privately owned it has been converted into a small folk park.
This fort is found in the western head of the island in the townland of Eoghanacht south of the village of Sruthán. It consists of a circular single two terraced wall of an impressive height. There are the remains of several Clocháin (stone houses) inside. The fort takes its name from the Eoghanacht tribe of Munster who were associated with the island in Medieval times. Exact dates are not known but it is probably Iron Age.
Minor Forts on Inis Mór
There are also other minor forts some identified and some not on Inis Mór. The walker may enjoy discovering them as he surveys the landscape. A good map such as that of cartographer Tim Robinson is an essential reference.