A trip out to Arranmore is a lovely adventure; you get the sense of getting away from it all in relative comfort and ease.
Located 5km off the coast looking back over towards The Rosses in Donegal, with Donegal airport, Gweedore and Dunglow just a short drive away from the ferry at Burtonport.
The ferry departs year round and it is possible to take your car making this ideal for families or for those of us who find it hard to travel light!
Coming through sheltered Rosses Bay, you can watch the skill of the ferry men weave their way through narrow channels and look around at the tiny islands dotted through this bay, some with homes built on and some with just a few sheep grazing. As Arranmore grows in size, you will soon see the white sand and turquoise water of the beach in the main village come into view at Leabgarrow.
Arriving to the island, we took off to the left and made it to possibly one of the most picturesque little churches in the country, just in time for mass with the locals! Expecting mass to be as gaeilge, we were reminded of just how small our world has become when the priest arrived out and apologised that mass would be in English as he was from Burkina Faso, while extending a warm welcome to all visitors to the island, which I thought was very sweet and a fair reflection of the island – warmth and welcome.
Making our way back towards the western end of the island, we passed a simple and poignant memorial at Lough Thoir, of the journey many islanders have made from Arran to Beaver Island, Lake Michigan and the subsequent twinning of these two islands. At the end of this western road you will come to the Arranmore Lighthouse which is just beautiful, and even more so on a sunny summers’ evening as when we happened upon it.
Driving on the western side of the island encapsulates all that is spectacular about the Wild Atlantic Way: the sheer ruggedness of the land, the jaw dropping scenery where land meets ocean, the strength of the Atlantic ocean and the resilience of the residents. As you return back to the more populated and slightly more sheltered eastern side, colourful wildflowers appear on lane ways, the sea seems to settle and grass appears greener, better protected and tended to.
A walk up to Early’s pub just behind the ferry pier – or follow the sound of chatter, music and craic, will have a small selection of food, or if you are lucky their pizzas will be on! Here you can sit outside on the benches and look back towards the hills of Donegal, watching the reflection of the setting sun cover Mount Errigal and lights in houses begin to dot through the countryside. And if you are like me, wish you could extend your stay on Arranmore by just another few nights…or weeks!
To read how my other Donegal island adventure went, have a look below: