Decided to take a day trip to Inis Mór, the larger of the three Aran Islands. It was a one hour bus ride to Rossaveal from Galway to catch the ferry over to the island.
Theferries are basically modern, aquatic people movers design to shuttle tourists to and from the islands. No cars, only pedestrians.

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Sleek, modern and safe (knock wood)

It was about 20 minutes to the island where we were greeted by tour bus drivers, horse and buggy drivers and proprietors of bicycle rental shops, all looking to see you on one form of transportation around the island or another.

Renting a bike struck me as a novel way to go so that’s what I opted for.

Now I had been told you could see puffins on this island and the tourist brochure advertised puffin holes so I asked the guy at the bike shop where the puffin holes could be found and he told me it was on the far end of the island. Just follow the road around the harbor until it ends and then I would have to leave the bike and do some hiking up and over a hill.

This sounded just dandy and i set off.

As it turned out, all the buses and the most of the other cyclists headed the opposite direction looking to find Dún Aengus leaving me to ride fairly leisurely to my own destination.

It was odd riding a bike. It’s been a lot of years since I have done so, but I sorted out the gears shifters and so forth without much problem.

There was a near miss as I dodged a cow tromping down the narrow street.

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I realized, right after the cow let out a mighty “MOOOOOOOOOOOO”, that I had not actually ever heard a cow “moo” before.
It was a bellowing and loud sound that seemed to urge me to MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE out of the way as loped past me and on down the road.

Moving on I was just awestruck by the things I was seeing

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Click for larger version

As I was taking some pictures, another rider came by and stopped. From his accent he was Irish and it turns out he was visiting his mother who lived on the island. I asked him if he knew where the puffin holes were and he said he would show me the way as he was headed that direction to go fishing.

When I explained to him how excited I was to see some puffins he explained that I would not be seeing any. This is when I learned what a “puffin hole” was. It’s not, as I would have thought, some type of nesting area for the puffing bird. Oh no…it’s a hole in the rock on the shore line where water rushes in from below and “puffs” into the sky like a geyser.

Well. This was not what I was peddling halfway round Inis Mór to see. But, since I had made a good part of the trek I decided to press onward.

The road finally ended and we picked up our bikes and passed them over the stone wall and proceeded to walk toward the shore through an open field. I stopped and took this picture of area we entered the field from:

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After a few hundred feet of walking the bikes I began to see movement all around me. Hares, hundreds of them. I couldn’t get very close without them all scurrying into holes on the ground that were literally everywhere.

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I told my new friend to go on ahead as I was going to pause and take some pictures and just soak it in. It was so peaceful and so isolated. The grass beneath my feet was soft and spongy.

As I pressed on things began to get a bit more rugged so I was forced to leave the bike (which I had been walking anyway) so I could navigate the increasing number of damp and slippery stoned on the ground.

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Click for larger version

I could see my Irish friend way in the distance walking up the rough trail on over the hill and then out of sight. I crossed the rocky flat and started to make my ascent when I came to the conclusion that I was putting myself in unnecessary jeopardy. I kept slipping on some rocks while others rolled out from under my feet. I figured I was on a collision course with a broken ankle.

I could just imagine myself snapping my ankle and being stranded out there. I’m sure I would have been found eventually but you know, discretion and valor and one being the better part of the other and all that…I decided to head back.

To be continued….

Inis Mór – Part 1
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