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Coordinates: 53°07′25″N 9°43′39″W / 53.12361°N 9.72750°W / 53.12361; -9.72750
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Native name:
The karst landscape on Inishmore from Dún Aonghasa
Inishmore is located in island of Ireland
LocationAtlantic Ocean
Coordinates53°07′25″N 9°43′39″W / 53.12361°N 9.72750°W / 53.12361; -9.72750
Area7,636 acres (3,090 ha)[1]
Length14 km (8.7 mi)[2]
Width3.8 km (2.36 mi)[2]
Highest elevation123 m (404 ft)
Highest pointAn Droim Rua
Population820 (2022[3])
Pop. density24.7/km2 (64/sq mi)
Inis Mór is the largest of the Aran Islands
Beach on Inis Mór
Cill Rónáin
Photograph from within Dún Aonghusa on Inis Mór in Galway Bay, Ireland, a prehistoric coastal hill fort

Inishmore (Irish: Árainn [ˈaːɾˠən̠ʲ] , Árainn Mhór [ˈaːɾˠən̠ʲ woːɾ] or Inis Mór [ˈɪnʲɪʃ mˠoːɾ]) is the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, off the west coast of Ireland. With an area of 31 km2 (12 sq mi) and a population of 820 (as of 2016), it is the second-largest island off the Irish coast (after Achill) and most populous of the Aran Islands.

The island is in the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht and has a strong Irish culture. Much of the island is karst landscape and it has a wealth of ancient and medieval sites including Dún Aonghasa, described as "the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe" by George Petrie.[4]



Before the 20th century, the island was usually called Árainn or Árainn Mhór, which is thought to mean 'kidney-shaped' or 'ridge'. It was anglicized as Aran, Aran More, or Great Aran.[5] This has caused some confusion with Arranmore, County Donegal,[6] which has the same Irish name. The name "Inishmore" was "apparently concocted by the Ordnance Survey for its map of 1839" as an Anglicization of Inis Mór ('big island'), as there is no evidence of its use before then.[7]

Because the island is in the Gaeltacht, Árainn is the only legal placename in Irish or English as declared in the Official Languages Act 2003.



During the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Inishmore was, similarly to Inishbofin, used by the New Model Army as a prison camp for Roman Catholic priests who were arrested while continuing their priestly ministry in nonviolent resistance to the Commonwealth of England's 1653 decree of banishment. The last priests held in both islands were finally released following the Stuart Restoration in 1662.[8]

Geology and geography


The island is an extension of the Burren. The terrain of the island is composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The limestones date from the Visean stage of the Carboniferous period, formed as sediments in a shallow tropical sea approximately 330-350 million years ago, and compressed into horizontal strata with fossil corals, crinoids, and sea urchins.

The effects of the last glacial period (the Midlandian) are evident, with the island overrun by ice. The result is that Inis Mór and the other islands are among the finer examples of Glacio-Karst landscape in the world. The impact of earlier karstification (solutional erosion) has been eliminated by the last glacial period. So any Karstification now seen dates from approximately 10,000 years ago and the island Karst is thus recent.

Solutional processes have widened and deepened the grikes of the limestone pavement. Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of subterranean drainage.

Towns and villages

  • Cill Rónáin (Kilronan)
  • Eochaill (Oghill)
  • Mainistir (Manister)
  • Cill Mhuirbhigh (Kilmurvy)
  • Iarairne (Eararna)
  • Cill Éinne (Killeany)
  • Gort na gCapall
  • Fearann an Choirce (Oatquarter)
  • Corrúch
  • Creig an Chéirín
  • Bungabhla
  • Baile na Creige
  • Sruthán
  • Eoghanacht (Onaght)

Flora and fauna


The island supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side by side, due to the unusual environment. Like the Burren, the Aran islands are known for their unusual assemblage of plants and animals.[9] The grikes (crevices) provide moist shelter, thus supporting a wide range of plants including dwarf shrubs. Where the surface of the pavement is shattered into gravel, many of the hardier Arctic or alpine plants can be found.

But when the limestone pavement is covered by a thin layer of soil, patches of grass are seen, interspersed with plants like the gentian and orchids. Insects present include the butterfly the pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae), marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) and wood white (Leptidea sinapis); the moths, the burren green (Calamia tridens), Irish annulet (Gnophos dumetata) and transparent burnet (Zygaena purpuralis); and the hoverfly Doros profuges.


Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches), Inis Mór
Poll na bPéist
A gravestone

Inis Mór today is a major tourist destination, with bed and breakfast accommodation scattered across the island. Private minibuses, horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the main methods of getting about for the numerous tourists who visit the island in the summer months.

There is a small museum illustrating the history of Dún Aonghasa and its possible functions, while the Aran Sweater Market is a focal point for visitors who can trace the culture and history associated with the Aran sweater through the on-site museum. Nearby are a Neolithic tomb and a small heritage park at Dún Eochla, featuring examples of a traditional thatched cottage and poteen distillery.[10] The Tempull Breccain (Church of Brecan), commonly called the Seven Churches of Aran, is a complex of churches and other buildings dedicated to the 5th-century Saint Brecan, once a popular destination for pilgrims.[11] In the centre of the island, at its highest point is the Inishmore Lighthouse, it was decommissioned in 1857 and replaced by the lights at Eeragh and Inisheer.[12]

The island plays host to Ted Fest each year. First celebrated in 2007, it is a celebration of the sitcom Father Ted. Festival-goers dress as their favourite characters, watch their favourite episodes and take part in various Ted related events and competitions.[13][14][15]



Some of the limestone sea cliffs have attracted interest from rock-climbers.[16] Diving is possible with a particularly popular location at Poll na bPéist ('hole of worms/sea monsters'), a large rectangular pool communicating via underground channels with the sea,[17] located on the southern coast of the island. Since 2012, Inis Mór has hosted an event as part of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.



The island is serviced by Aran Ferries ferry from Rossaveal and Doolin. These are passenger-only ferries; cars and heavy goods are transported on unscheduled services.

Aer Arann Islands runs daily scheduled flights from Inis Mór Aerodrome to Connemara Airport using Britten Norman Islander aircraft.


The island features heavily in Martin McDonagh's play The Lieutenant of Inishmore. McDonagh also used Inishmore as a location for his film The Banshees of Inisherin.

Inis Mór was used as a recording location for the 1997 film The Matchmaker and the 2010 film Leap Year.

The first story in These Precious Hours by Michael Corrigan has a scene set on Inis Mór.

The island appeared on the premiere episode of The Amazing Race 12 with teams needing to find Teampall Bheanáin after they arrived.[18]

The music video for Dermot Kennedy's "For Island Fires and Family" (video released 10 January 2019) was filmed entirely on Inis Mór.[19][20]

Inishmore is the name of the tenth album by the New York heavy metal forefathers Riot (now going under Riot V moniker) and loosely based on tales of Irish famine and emigration, employing many Celtic/Irish sounding passages, as well as an instrumental cover of a well known Irish song Danny Boy.

Notable inhabitants


Aran in the Irish annals


Annals of Inisfallen (AI)

  • 530 – "Enda of Aran, died."
  • 654 – "St Nem Moccu Birn, successor of Enne, of Ara, died on the 14th of June."
  • 751 – "Repose of Colmán mac Comán, in Ára."
  • 755 – "Gaimdibhla, Abbot of Aran, died."
  • 916 – "Egnech, successor of Enda of Ara, bishop and anchorite, died."
  • 1110 – "Flann Ua Aedha, successor of Énna of Ára, died."
  • 1114 – "Maelcoluim Ua Cormacain, successor of Ende of Ara, died."
  • "AI1015.8 The foreigners of the Isles, viz. with the complement of seven ships, raided the Islands, and they plundered Ara, Inse Mod, and Inis Aingin(?), and carried off one hundred and fifty [captives] as booty."
  • "AI1016.6 The slaughter of Ára, in which Ua Lochlainn, royal heir of Corcu Modruad, was killed in Port Ciaráin in Ára. It was the Conmaicne who slew him."
  • "AI1019.4 A great pestilence, i.e. a colic, in Ára in the above year, and many people died there."
  • 1167 – Gillagori Ua Dubhacan "successor of Einde of Ara, died."



The table below reports data on Inis Mór's population taken from Discover the Islands of Ireland (Alex Ritsema, Collins Press, 1999) and the census of Ireland.

Historical population
Source: Central Statistics Office. "CNA17: Population by Off Shore Island, Sex and Year". CSO.ie. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 2016 population: "CSO Statbank E2021".

Annalistic references


AI=Annals of Inisfallen. (AF)M=Annals of the Four Masters.

  • AI1016.6 "The slaughter of Ára, in which Ua Lochlainn, royal heir of Corcu Modruad, was killed in Port Ciaráin in Ára. It was the Conmaicne who slew him. Death of Muiredach son of Cadla, king of Conmaicne Mara."
  • AI1019.4 "A great pestilence, i.e. a colic, in Ára in the above year, and many people died there."
  • M1186 "Conchubhar Ua Flaithbertaigh was killed by Ruaidhri Ua Flaithbertaigh, by his own brother, in Ara."
  • M1560.8 "Mahon, the son of Turlough, son of Teige, son of Donough, son of Donnell, son of Turlough Meith O'Brien, went into Desmond with the crew of a ship and boat, from the island of Aran. He took prisoners in the southern country, but some assert that the taking of them was of no advantage, and that they only accompanied him through friendship. On his return with his spoils, the wind became rough, and the sky angry; and the ship and boat were separated from each other; and when the ship was making for Aran in the beginning of the night, the sail was swept away from the hands of the men and warriors, and torn to rags off the ropes and tackles, and wafted into the regions of the firmament; and the ship afterwards struck upon a rock, which is at the mouth of Cuan-an-fhir-mhoir, in West Connaught, where she was lost, with her crew, except Mahon and three others. Upwards of one hundred were drowned in that harbour, among whom was Tuathal O'Malley, the best pilot of a fleet of long ships in his time."
  • M1565.3 "Mahon, the son of Turlough Mantagh, son of Donough, son of Donnell, son of Turlough Meith, was treacherously slain in his own town of Aircin, in Aran, by his own associates and relations. When the chief men of Galway heard of this, they set out to revenge this misdeed upon the treacherous perpetrators, so that they compelled them to fly from their houses; and they the fugitives went into a boat, and put to sea; and where they landed was in the harbour of Ross, in West Corca-Bhaiscinn. Donnell, the son of Conor O'Brien, having heard of this, he hastened to meet them with all the speed that he could exert; and he made prisoners of the greater number of them, and carried them in close fetters to Magh Glae, in the upper part of Corcomroe, in order that their sorrow and anguish might be the greater for being in view of the place where they had perpetrated the crime; he hanged some of them, and burned others, according as their evil practices deserved."


  1. ^ "OSI Maps, 6" Cassini Maps". osi.ie. Ordnance Survey Ireland. Archived from the original on 6 July 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Inishmore - Árainn". www.discoverireland.ie. Fáilte Ireland. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  3. ^ Population of Inhabited Islands Off the Coast (Report). Central Statistics Office. 2023. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  4. ^ "The Best of Ancient Ireland". Frommer's. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Árainn/Inishmore". Placenames Database of Ireland.
  6. ^ Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc. (2011). Fodor's See It Ireland. Fodor's Travel Publications. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-4000-0553-6.
  7. ^ Smyth, Gerry (2001). Space and the Irish Cultural Imagination. Springer. p. 53.
  8. ^ Nugent, Tony (2013). Were You at the Rock? The History of Mass Rocks in Ireland. Liffey Press. Pages 51-52.
  9. ^ Webb, D. A. (1961–1963). "Noteworthy Plants of the Burren: A Catalogue Raisonné". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section B. 62. Royal Irish Academy: 117–34. ISSN 0035-8983. JSTOR 20494847.
  10. ^ Mario De Carli. "Prehistoric Forts". Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  11. ^ Harbison, Peter (1 April 1995). Pilgrimage in Ireland: The Monuments and the People. Syracuse University Press. pp. 93ff. ISBN 978-0-8156-0312-2.
  12. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Western Ireland (Ulster and Connacht)". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  13. ^ Brennan, Ciaran (26 January 2022). ""Well here we are now, all the lads": TedFest returns to Inis Mór after COVID lay off". Hotpress. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  14. ^ "Fr. Ted Festival 2025 on Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Galway". Galway Tourism. 12 March 2024. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  15. ^ Mullen, Paul (25 February 2014). "Everything you need to know about TedFest". The Aran Islands Co Galway Ireland. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  16. ^ "Aran Islands - Irish Climbing Online Wiki". wiki.climbing.ie.
  17. ^ "Scuba diving ireland". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  18. ^ Rocchio, Christopher (5 November 2007). "Ari Bonas, Staella Gianakakos eliminated from 'The Amazing Race 12'". Reality TV World. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  19. ^ "WATCH: Dermot Kennedy's stunning new video set on the Aran Islands". JOE.ie. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Dermot Kennedy releases new video filmed on Inis Mór". RTÉ. 13 January 2019.
  21. ^ Gillan, P. J. (1 January 2004). "Bridget Dirrane" – via The Guardian.
  22. ^ Eyman, Scott. Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1999. ISBN 0-684-81161-8 (excerpt c/o New York Times)