Aran Islands: The Irish Archipelago with a Starring Cinematic Role
Anchored off the west coast of Ireland, just a short ferry ride from Galway, the weather-beaten Aran islands have become a film-location favourite. Craggy shores, thatched cottages and storied watering holes, here we come
28 February, 2023
Aran islands, Ireland.
Raised a glass to all four of the Bafta awards that The Banshees of Inisherin picked up at last week's ceremony? It's worth considering the film's rugged and remote Irish location for your next adventure. Situated on the weather-beaten west coast of Ireland, just a 45-minute ferry ride from Galway, the Aran islands - Inishmore (the largest), Inishmaan and Inisheer (the smallest) - also appeared on the silver screen back in 2010, as the backdrop of the hit rom-com Leap Year.
Despite these VIP links, the full-time population across the three isles is a dinky 1,200. You won't find big-name chains or hipster hangouts, but you will find storied watering holes, a tight-knit community, nature-first hotels and ancient fortresses dating back to the 10th century BC.
Island views enjoyed from a suite at Inis Meáin, left, and a dramtic snap of The Worm Hole. | Photo credits: Inis Meáin & Esssevu / Shutterstock.com
The Worm Hole. Located on Inishmore, this natural limestone tidal pool remains unexplained by scientists, making it something of a mythical landmark. In recent years, it has become the site of some of the world's most exclusive cliff-diving competitions, but be warned: diving and wild swimming in the icy Atlantic waters are not recommended for amateurs.
Where to stay?
It's Inishmaan, the least-visited of the three Aran islands, that we suggest you make tracks for. There, the intimate five-suite boutique hotel Inis Meáin honours the beauty of its natural surroundings, translated through earthy materials and seasonal menus. We love the complimentary "discovery kit", which sees bicycles, fishing rods, maps, binoculars and rucksacks all at guests' disposal.
What about food?
If you enjoy a side of stylish interiors with your main course, the Aran islands are not where you should come to get your fix. If, however, you can get on board with rustic seaside shacks and little-known eateries, then you're in for a treat. On Inishmore, the hole-in-the-wall-style Aran Islands Café is our favourite. Make it your choice for blueberry scones, fist-sized cookies and artisan lattes. On Inisheer, make tracks for Rory's Pub to scoff thick-cut chips and beef burgers, roast stuffed chicken, homemade soup and custard-drenched apple pie. Top of our list, though, is the Michelin-green-starred restaurant at hotel Inis Meáin. Menu highlights include lobster and oysters served on a bed of freshly harvested veggies and a stellar rhubarb soufflé
A delcious apple pie, alongside a gritty pub facade. | Photo credits: Diliara & Andrea / Unsplash.com
Who to take with you?
Fans of Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan. Or a pal who enjoys an outdoor adventure - and by that, we mean someone who ventures further than the local common. There are plenty of breathtaking coastal trails to enjoy: our favourite is Inishmore's Dún Aonghasa Ring Fort - a circular cliff route that wraps around the stone walls of the island's ancient fortress.
Essentials to pack
The baseball cap has made its comeback, and we for one are absolutely here for it - especially if it means we can avoid sporting the windswept look. Snag this Ganni logo-embroidered organic-cotton cap in khaki for an effortlessly cool accessory.
How to get there
We suggest flying from London Gatwick to Shannon Airport. From there, it's a two-hour drive to Galway's Rossaveel Harbour, then a 40-minute ferry ride to the nearest of the three islands, Inishmore.