Inisheer , County Galway

Inisheer (Inis Oirr, “East Island”) , at just under two miles across , is the smallest of the Aran Islands. Its well worth seeing on any Ireland tours as it is a bit of a hidden gem.

It doesn’t have the archaeological wealth of Inishmore , or the wild solitude of Inishmaan , but regular day-trip ferry services from Doolin bring a constant , if small , flow of visitors.

This service also makes for a handy route from County Clare to Connemara.

Of course tourism may threaten the very stuff of the island’s attraction – the purity of traditions and its romantic isolation – but for the moment Inisheer retains its old character , and for some it’s a favourite place.

A great plug of rock dominates the island , its rough, pale-grey stone dripping with greenery. At the top , the 15th century O’Briens castle stands inside an early medieval ring fort , Dun Formna. Set around it are low fields , a small community of pubs and houses , and windswept sand dunes.

Half-buried in the sand just southeast of the beach and the pier is the 10th century St Kevin’s Church ; still in use in the 19th century , it is now used only to commemorate him as the patron saint of the island every June 14.

Southeast again from here is Loch Mor , a pretty lake inhabited by wildfowl.

The 6 mile , waymarked Inis Oirr Way traces a circular route round the northern half of the island , taking in these sites , and you could easily branch off between St Kevin’s Church and Loch Mor to add on a walk down the road to the lighthouse at the southeastern tip of the island , which affords fantastic views of the Cliffs of Moher.

As I said …. well worth a visit on any tours of Ireland…..in my opinion a must see attraction.