Arranmore Island: A True Irish Gem

Arranmore Island

Updated On: November 11, 2023 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Arranmore Island
Arranmore Island (Image Source: Flickr – Pauric Ward)

Arranmore Island (Arainn Mhor) is an inviting but remote island, off the coast of Donegal, along the famous Wild Atlantic Way. It is one of the special gems in Ireland that you must visit. A place known for its wildness and untamed landscape, along with its colour heritage and culture as the place has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

Arranmore Island is Donegal’s largest island and is one of the few places in Ireland that still has a very strong Gaelic tradition which is still flourishing today.

From the enticing rocky cliffs to golden Irish beaches, the island is filled with lots of little gems to enjoy. Not forgetting the views from Arranmore Island are magnificent, to say the least, as you gaze out to the ocean with tall mountains and other Irish islands standing out in the distant background.

If you’re hoping to find an authentic Irish island that’s unlike anywhere else, then make sure you add Arranmore Island to your Donegal adventure. The ferry journey over is also a lovely scenic experience as you pass a variety of other Irish islands along the way.


The History of Arranmore Island

For many decades Arranmore Island has had strong links with another island in the United States, this is Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. When the awful great hunger was taking place in Ireland, many of the Irish citizens chose to leave for a better life. As the odds in Ireland were not great at the time, with poverty and starvation taking over.

America was a top destination for the Irish, after all, it was a country built of ‘living the dream’. Many of the people from Arranmore Island, made their way over to the great lakes of America, setting up a new life on Beaver Island. For many generations, Beaver Island was turned into a favourite spot with the Irish, who have firmly made their mark on the area, with many of the unique Irish surnames named after places found there.

You can even visit the Beaver Island Monument located on Arranmore Island, offering a touching tribute to the relationship between the two islands that will always be remembered.


Things to do in Arranmore Island

For a small island, there is plenty of things to fill up your time on a visit to this captivating Irish Island. It’s definitely popular with its thrilling outdoor activities and famous pubs to visit.


Rocking Climbing Adventure

Are you a bit of a daredevil? Then why not do some rocking climbing around Arranmore Island, where you can catch dramatic views of the coastline, while you are enjoying this activity.

The natural rock climbing environment within the Island is brilliant and definitely suited to those wishing to add a little adventure into their lives. The Island is divided into two areas, the North and Southern parts, where you can explore its bewildering landscape through rock climbing.


Sea Safari and Marine Heritage Tours

Take part in this unmissable guided sea tour that sets off from the harbour of Burtonport, as it takes you around some of Donegal’s famous islands including Arranmore Island.

On this trip, you’ll get to uncover the real beauty of the island, and come across the unique landscape and will hopefully capture some of the wildlife that’s known to call the island home such as the birds, dolphins and basking sharks, so keep your eyes on the lookout.

The two-hour excursion is a must experience, as it takes you around Arranmore Island’s most historic landmarks such as the former herring fishing station which is now abandoned.

Tour company ‘Dive Arranmore’ offers many marine activities to enjoy such as diving around popular spots on the island as well as sea angling and sea safari’s.  They also provide the popular seal watching tours, which is the perfect day trip as you get up close and personal with the seals in the area.


Enjoy Traditional Irish Music on the Island

Arranmore Island is famous for its live traditional music and friendly pubs, where you’ll find open fires, chatty locals and a great spot to have a refreshing pint of Guinness.

The popular family-run Early’s Bar is in the perfect location within the island for people to easily come across. The bar is filled with a strong history and most notable for its music and fun environment. A place where you can relax after a busy day exploring the Arranmore island, fill yourself up on the charming bar that’s a short two-minute walk from harbour pier.  You can also enjoy typical bar food here, especially their delicious stone baked pizzas.

During the evening, there is live entertainment provided by the bar with a variety of live bands and even a disco.

For more food and drink on the Arranmore Island check ‘Killeens of Arranmore’ which is stunningly located overlooking the beach of Aphort or head to the Ferryboat Restaurant and Guest House which also offers amazing food, and is a perfect little place to stay on Arranmore Island.


Move to Arranmore Island

This is a beautifully enchanting Irish island, although it may be small it’s filled with everything you could possibly need. Sadly over the years, the island has lost a good portion of its population. The place is calling for people looking for somewhere new to live, to make Arranmore Island their new home, to keep the island alive and thriving like it once was.

“It’s a beautiful place. One of the best things about the place is its people – it’s second to none” – Chair of Arranmore Island county

The island council recently sent out open letters to people around America and Australia, asking for them to possibly relocated here.  So if you’re thinking about uprooting to Ireland, then why not consider this charming Island of Arranmore, which will give you a truly authentic Irish experience off the coast of Donegal.

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