Inis Meáin or Inishmaan is the middle island of the three Aran Islands of County Galway in the west of Ireland. It's about 5 km by 3 km with a population in 2011 of 157, whose primary language is Irish. Like the others it's an extension of the mainland's limestone Burren, with stony terrain and little ground suitable for farming. It's the least touristy of the three but has transport and visitor amenities; Dún Conor ring fort is its main sight.
There are two ferry routes from the mainland, from Rossaveel 40 km west of Galway year round, and from Doolin in County Clare in summer. .
From Rossaveel Aran Island Ferries sail at least twice a day year round, with eight a day at the height of summer. The crossing takes 40 min and a day-trip is feasible. In summer 2020 an adult return fare was €30, booking advised. A shuttle bus from Eyre Square in Galway connects with all sailings, return fare €9. Never bring a vehicle (even a motorbike) to Inis Meáin, park at Rossaveel anywhere that won't inconvenience residents or harbour users.
Between the islands: the Rossaveel and Doolin ferries are heading for Inis Mór but call at Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr on their way out or back. So you may have to sail via Inis Mór, in which case the journey from the mainland will be 70 min. Inter-island day trips are possible most days in summer but seldom in winter.
1 Inis Meáin ferry pier is on the north tip of the island. This is the new harbour and landing stage, built in 2007. It's 1.5 km north of the village, which is above the traditional landing point on the east coast.
Aer Árann fly several times a day from Connemara Airport at Inverin, 31 km west of Galway city. There are at least a couple of flights daily year round, more in the August peak season. In summer 2020 a return fare was €50. Flying time is just 10 min and a day trip is always feasible. The aircraft are a pair of rinky-dinky BNF Islanders that only take 9 passengers; they rattle around in the breeze and are often cancelled in bad weather. Aer Árann also fly from Connemara to Inis Mór and Inis Oírr but all these flights are turnaround trips, there are no inter-island flights.
2 Inis Meáin airfield is in the northeast corner of the island.
Walk everywhere. The village and main sights are in the centre of the island near the old landing jetty. Perhaps your accommodation will pick you up from the new pier or airfield; otherwise just hike up the lane and be grateful you're not lumping a heavy basketful of kelp to your rain-lashed field.
- 1 Dún Conor (Dún Conchuir). Elliptical stone cashel or ring fort, some 69 m x 35 m with walls up to 6 m thick, probably from 1st millennium BC. Always accessible, and you'll probably have it to yourself. It's at the highest point of the island, with great views over the patchwork of fields and embracing sea. Free.
- Carrownlisheen Cross stands 100 m south of the cashel.
- 2 Templesaghtmacree, which translates as "church of the seven sons of the king", is the scrappy remains of a church from 8th-10th C AD. By it are Leaba Cinndeirge, the grave of St Cinndeirg, and Tobar Cinndeirge her holy well; nothing is known of her life and deeds. The adjacent RC church is from 1938 but has re-used some of the old stones.
- Teach Synge just west of Templesaghtmacree is the cottage where JM Synge spent summer 1898-1902. The island influenced his Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea. It's now a small museum, hours erratic, €3.
- 3 Cathaoir Synge is the sheltered spot on the cliff edge where JMS used to enjoy sitting and watching the view. There's a good walk along the clifftops south from here. The clochan or beehive cell on the lane from the village may be 6th C.
- 4 Dún Fearbhaí is a cashel probably much later than Dún Conor, say 9th century AD. Unusually, it's square not round.
- 5 Doonbeg is a smaller ringfort adjacent.
- Cill Cheannanach (Church of the Canons or of St Gregory) is near the old landing stage on the east of the island.
- 6 Carrownlisheen Wedge Tomb was built 4000–2500 BC, so even the latest of those dates would make it by far the oldest human structure on these islands.
- Beach: the best is Ceann Gainimh just north of the airfield.
- Inis Meáin Knitting Co is in the village.
- Teach Ósta, Carrownlisheen, ☏ . The most famous pub on the island, since it's the only one. Welcoming place, food served till 19:00, in summer often has live music.
- There's no campsite, but ask around if you can pay to pitch a tent in someone's field.
- 1 An Dun B&B, ☏ . Clean friendly B&B open Mar-Nov, no children under 12. Good evening meals (including non-residents) with notice.
- 2 Tig Congaile, ☏ . B&B and restaurant with views of the Cliffs of Moher and Inis Oirr. Cuisine by Vilma, a Guatemalan lady, whose food is not to be missed. B&B double €90.
Finish up any urgent calls on the ferry, which may have a signal from Eir. But on the island, as of June 2020 some individual premises have connections but there's no general coverage.
- Inis Mór has many prehistoric and early Christian sites, and dramatic cliffs.
- Inis Oírr also has early Christian sites, though it's most familiar as "Craggy Island" with a shipwreck from the opening sequence of the sitcom Father Ted.
- On the mainland at Rossaveel, head east for Galway city or west for the Connemara coast.
- At Doolin see the Cliffs of Moher and the sparse limestone scenery of the Burren.