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On the edge of Europe in Western Ireland, 30 miles out into the Atlantic off Galway Bay, lie the fabled Aran Isles: Inis Mor (The Big Island), Inis Meain (The Middle Island) and Inis Ere (The Small Island). Inis Meain is the least known of the three islands being just 2 miles long by a mile wide.
It was home to John Millington Synge while writing his play 'Playboy of the Western World' (the cottage where the protagonist was hidden in the real-life story upon which Synge's play was based is nearby). Inis Meain is widely held to be one of the most beautiful and tranquil locations in the West Of Ireland, and this cottage is located in one of the most beautiful spots on the island.
It lies on the highest point of Inis Meain, nestling in a third of an acre garden, and is one of the oldest traditional thatched cottages on the island, which has been sympathetically modernised for use as a holiday cottage.
Built 200 years or so ago, the cottage looks out from its front aspect over the sea to Connemara; to the left is Inis Mor and to the right is County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher and, eventually, Kerry. The views are unimpeded and are breathtaking.
Inside the cottage is a traditional sitting room with large stone-arched fireplace, coal/peat stove and comfortable armchairs and sofa. All the floors in the cottage downstairs are dark grey slate.
A large fitted kitchen with an oak dining table that seats 10 contains all the appliances needed, including an electricity powered Aga cooker, microwave, washing machine, toaster, espresso machine. French doors lead out of the kitchen into the garden.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, with a fourth double bedroom downstairs off the sitting room (with views across the bay to the mainland). The bedrooms upstairs are all double bedrooms and one has an ensuite toilet and washbasin. The main bedroom has a 6' double bed and there is a view from 2 sides across the sea and to County Clare. To the rear of the downstairs sitting room is a 20' south facing sun lounge overlooking the garden, which has an outside suntrap area in which to sit or dine. Off the sun lounge is the bathroom/WC, with bath/power shower. The cottage accommodates eight people comfortably. Two sofas convert into further double beds if needed. All linen/duvets/blankets etc are provided. The cottage is well decorated and maintained throughout. Heating is by Aga, coal fires and portable oil-filled radiators - there is more than enough heating to keep the whole cottage warm. Hot water is via an immersion heater.
The island, and particularly where the cottage is located, is characterised by silence. There is very little traffic, the lanes are safe to walk in and the air is about the least polluted in Europe (cf. EEC report).
The cleanliness of the environment has allowed a unique range of flora to evolve, including orchids, cowslips, gentian, drifts of sea thrift, honeysuckle, harebells, burnet rose, bloody cranesbill and many more (the wildlife environment is in some respects an extension of the famous Burren landscape in County Clare).
There is a plentiful supply of seafood, especially crab, mackerel and lobster (live lobster currently 5/6 euros each). Fishermen can enjoy sea fishing from the local rocks or by boat from the mainland.
The weather, being on the Atlantic coastline, is variable but during the summer months is warm and calm (20 - 26 celsius). There are occasional showers but these tend to be short-lived. June, July and August tend to be sunny and warm throughout. The Aran Isles are in the Gulf Stream , so there is virtually no frost or snow at any time of the year.
The island is made up of a patchwork quilt of small fields divided by the famous Aran hand-built stone walls, and small lanes interweave the fields. Every part of the island is reachable safely on foot. Children in particular find it a magical place as they can play and wander without fear and discover the many different kinds of farm animals and rock pool life.
On the lee side of Inis Meain is a spectacular white sand beach 0.75 miles long which visitors often find they have more or less to themselves. There is swimming in summer in a crystal clear sea. On the opposite side (10 minutes walk from the cottage) are stunning cliffs which face directly onto the Atlantic (the next stop is Newfoundland ). The famous Aran Isles currach boat races are held every summer, and are an important part of the island's culture.
The island is an extremely friendly place with hospitable people who welcome visitors. It is one of the few remaining Gaelic speaking islands, although English is understood by most people.
There is a small store selling most of what is needed, two very good restaurants and a traditional Irish pub with excellent live music.
On the island is the famous Inis Meain knitwear factory, a small, highly successful business that produces exquisite knitwear in alpaca and cashmere, and which is sold in exclusive shops around the world. There is a factory shop where visitors can pick up bargains.
Access to the island is by light plane or ferry, making visits to the other islands and different parts of the west coast easy to arrange. However, most people who stay here don't want to leave!
If you would like to rent the above cottage (further photos can be sent to enquirers) call Paul Williams on (+44) 0781 8403210 , or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rent for the cottage is 450 euros per week low season (October to April), 650 euros per week high season (May to September).
Synge, J.M. 'Playboy of the Western
Synge, J.M. 'The Aran Islands' Publisher: Penguin
Waddell J, O'Connell J.W. & Korff A. (Eds.) 'The Book of
Aran' Publisher: Tir Eolas
O hEithir B & R (eds.) 'An Aran
Reader' Publisher: Lilliput
Doyle Bill 'The Aran Islands:
another world' (Photographic Essay) Publisher: Lilliput
Tomas 'The Islandman' Publisher: Oxford University Press (This book is
about life on the Great Blasket, some way down the coast from the Aran
Isles, but gives a compelling account of island life).
T. 'Oileain Arann. A Map of the Aran Islands, Co.Galway.' Publisher:
Kilronan Robinson, T. 'Stones of Aran' Publisher: Pilgrimage