I had a great time interviewing Kimberly Bellows, one of my Twitter followers, about her day trip to the Aran Islands in August 2011. She had been traveling throughout Ireland all by herself for about a week before she got to Aran. After staying for a while in Belfast she made her way to Galway, and since all the guidebooks said Aran was where she must go, that’s where she went.
I went to Aran with a pretty blank slate. I really had no expectations other than sweaters and biking. I spent the day riding around the island stopping to take pictures every fifty feet. I couldn’t stop smiling….The only noise was when one of those crazy vans would drive past me or when one of the horse and carts would go by. There was no real noise.
For Kim, who has spent most of her life in metropolitan areas, this was a huge change, a change she genuinely enjoyed.
(Kimberly having a great time on Inishmore)
On Aran, after biking around the island all day and being blown away by how peaceful and beautiful it was, she found herself alone at the abandoned lighthouse:
I pushed my bike up to the highest point on the island and there was no one there. I’d seen tourists around but there were so many parts of the island where there was just no one else.
(The Lighthouse, Inishmore)
So I was on the top of the island just looking out. I remember thinking how abandoned it seemed. And — I think this is pretty indicative of what a rule follower I am — I kept thinking, “Am I allowed to be up here, to go into this abandoned building?” And I thought, “Well there’s no one here to stop me so I might as well look around!” I walked around the perimeter a little bit and I walked out in the grass, and I just remember feeling really alone, and…I really liked it. I liked being alone up there.
(Field near the lighthouse, Inishmore)
[At the building] there was a window, but it didn’t have any glass on it, and there was a tiny little flower growing in the windowsill. Just one little flower growing out of this huge building. There were flowers around the perimeter where the grass was but not really in the building area and I thought…that one little thing all by itself, that’s how I felt at that moment.
(All photos courtesy of Kimberly Bellows. Follow her on Twitter, @kmbellows. Currently she’s teaching English in Chile.)
What is it about the Aran Islands? I’ve been collecting interviews with islanders, visitors, tourists, and people who are just extremely passionate about the islands, and some of the responses I’ve gotten are just too beautiful not to share. If you’ve been to the Aran Islands and have an opinion, an anecdote, or just feel inspired, e-mail me. I would love to know your story.