The Aran Islands

THE ARAN ISLANDS

That Celts arrived in Ireland via the Caucasus should come as no surprise to those familiar with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ which shares elements with the story of the two figures from Celtic mythology, lovers Aonghas and Caer. There is an ancient fortress bearing Aonghas’ name on the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. The location on the receding continental shelf of Europe identifies both the little archipelago’s geographical position, and its extreme isolation.

The dominant feature is not only the grey/white stones, but their layout. They weave a flywire grid of low walls enclosing the tiniest green plots that could never be called paddocks. In a remarkable achievement, the Islanders broke and cleared the stone. To dispose of the shrapnel, they created walls with it, forming the boundary of the cleared patch of dirt. This backbreaking, courageous labour is staggering at first sight. Continue reading