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Inis Oirr, Aran Islands

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 This is the tenth anniversary event and here are this years participants.

 There are two new teachers in 2010: Téada's Tristan Rosenstock and Uiscedwr's Cormac Byrne! Add  Junior Davey, Jim Higgins, Siobhan O'Donnell, Stiofan O'Brion and Rolf Wagels and you will see that this years teachers board again covers a variety of styles and approaches in bodhrán playing.

Stoned Dog Goes Wild on Inis Oirr

On Inis Oírr a dog considers a swim but decides it's a bit on the wild side
Due to the stormy weather conditions, the Inis "Iron" Meáin race has been rescheduled for Saturday the 23rd of January 2010. The new application form is here and there are still free slots available.
See application button below and here

IM1.jpgA 10 kilometer run over winding roadways, rough terrain, sand dunes and beaches, is what it takes to compete in the 'Inis Iron Meáin'. Every November since 2004, Inis Meáin hosts one of the most challenging athletic events in the country, a fact confirmed by regular participants such as Sonia O'Sullivan and David Campbell (last years winner). The 10 kilometer run was initiated by Lorcain O'Callarain in 2004, the then Muinteoir i bhFoighil of Coláiste Naomh Eoin as a fundraiser for the new secondary school.
From late September onwards, the students and staff of Coláiste Naomh Eoin start preparations for the event. Entry fees must be recorded and acknowledged, the courses (crua agus fíor crua) must be marked out, hot food for after the event has to be organised, maps are prepared, accommodation and restaurants are booked, 10k goody bags are packed and nightly entertainment is decided. This hustle and bustle radiates throughout the island and the whole community gets behind the school, making it one of the most anticipated events of the year.
Text Box: Inis "Iron" Meáin Fancy Dress 2008. The Inis Meáin Pink ladies!However, the weekend does not just focus on strenuous activity alone. It is a chance for friends to meet up and a fancy dress competition is held in the pub on the night of the 10k. Last years fancy dress theme had to do with the letter 'P' which saw both islanders and mainlanders dressed up as Popeye, priests, pirates, pink ladies and pea pods!
However, to participate in the Inis "Iron" Meáin you do not have to be a serious athlete. There is an easier shorter course and you can walk, jog or run. On behalf of Coláiste Naomh Eoin, we would like to extend much thanks to all of you on the mainland and on Inis Meáin who supported the event to date, making it an event to remember which goes from strength to strength every year.

The Inis "Iron" Meáin will be held on the 23rd of January 2010. If you are up to the challenge, then please contact:
Coláiste Naomh Eoin at (099) 73991 or ring Geraldine on (086)3460792 and we will fill you in on all the details for Inis "Iron" Meáin 2009. Cost per entry is €50.

Application Forms: Click here

Aran drivers go electric

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Aran islanders are getting the opportunity to skip age of petrol fumes. This week got their first glimpse of the electric car that could pave the way for a total transformation of life as they know it.

The first Mega 'e-City' three-door hatchback arrived on Inis Mór on Tuesday for residents to test drive. One of their most pressing questions for the accompanying boffins was if this brainchild of French engineers could conquer the island's notoriously steep hills without the benefit of petrol or diesel.

One thing they know already is that if the car hits its top speed of 64kph they will almost certainly escape the wrath of the law - the speed limit across the three islands is just 60kph.

The electric car, which is about the same size as a Nissan Micra, is one of ten to be rolled out across the three islands as part of a three-year pilot project to see if the wind and ocean can generate enough energy for electricity, heat and transport for a small community.

The project, which is a collaboration between Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, attracted tenders from 18 companies from around Europe.

From January there will be six cars leased to residents of Inis Mór, two to Inis Meain and two to Inis Oirr, with different households chosen for each year of the project.

Interested motorists must apply to the local co-op, Comharchumann Forbartha Árann Teo, to be accepted, but they must have a clean licence and driving history, they must be under 65 and currently drive a fully taxed vehicle.

According to Fiona Smith of (SEI), successful applicants will have to pay a nominal amount for the lease of the car, around €12, a fee for a connection charge point on the outside of their home, which will be around €330, and then the cost of the electricity to run it. That is likely to be no more than €60 for the year.

The electric car consumes 130 units per km, whereas a similarly sized car such as a Peugeot 107 consumes 520 units per km. Motorists are tipped to save up to 80% in fuel costs.

"It really is a much, much more efficient alternative," explained Ms Smith. "This could become an alternative to shipping in fuel, making the island more self reliant and sustainable."

Dara O'Maoildhia, secretary of the energy community on Inis Mór, said his first impressions of the first bright orange 'e-City' were extremely positive.

"It's roomy in the front, there's no sense you're up against the window. But in the back I would say there's room only for two children. It's got electric windows, reversing sensors, it's comfortable enough. I've no doubt people will be interested in it," he told the Connacht Tribune.

Queries put to the engineers by residents during their day-long visit to the island included how long the car would run before it needed charging, how long it would take for a car to be fixed and how many charging devices were necessary on the island.

These are all issues likely to be ironed out before the launch in early January.

The energy committees on the three islands have been pushing for more energy efficient alternatives for some years. Inis Mór now boasts an electric post van, while tourists can now rent electric bikes to explore the island.

"Our vision for the island is to have no requirement for carbon fuel of any kind, no need for coal, petrol or diesel so that homes are heated and cars are run on alternative energy. We pay more for coal and more for a gallon of diesel than anywhere in the country - at the moment diesel is €1.06, whereas on the island it's €1.20," said Mr O'Maoildhia.

He hopes smart meters will be installed in participating houses within the next three years, which will be attached to the side of the fuse box to monitor the electricity going in and out. Windmills may be built in the gardens and any energy generated will be directed by this smart box into the house to be used in the most efficient way.

"The smart meter will direct the electricity to the battery of the car when the price of electricity is low, but when the price is high, it will be dropped into the electricity grid and you can make a fortune. "At least that's the plan," he said.

More at The Connacht Tribune

Island swim aids lifeboats

Caitríona Lynch set off from Inisheer to Inishmean on Saturday, September 12 -- crossing the sound to the cheers of locals.

"I know the Aran Islands well as my mother comes from Inishmeán and I spent a lot of time there growing up, for Christmas and Easter and the like, so it was great to get back out for this fundraiser," Caitríona told The Kerryman.

"I had been waiting for a number of days to do it, but the weather was so bad all along. When I finally got the go-ahead on Saturday I couldn't believe the response from the islanders as the news went around that it was underway. They even lit a bonfire!"

One of two swimmers on the day, Caitríona managed to surprise herself. "I had expected it to take over an hour to get across as there's a very strong current in the sound, but I covered it in 52 minutes, which was great," she said.

"I'd just like to thank everyone at home in North Kerry who supported the cause of the Aran Islands lifeboat. We got a great response at home and it's a wonderful cause as it really is a lifeline for the people of Aran," Caitríona said.

With €2,500 raised already, Caitríona hopes to bring in more funding and anyone who would like to donate need only log onto her website www. mycharity. ie/ event/ caitriona__ni_loinsighs_event/.


Irish novelist's quest for a perfect Aran


It is hard for me to think about the Aran Islands, the three rugged outposts off the coast of Galway, without dreaming of a perfect pint of Guinness on a drizzling summer afternoon, when all hopes of walking, or cycling, or swimming had been gloriously dampened by the weather, and there was only one place to go, and that was the pub. And from the window you could study the gray sky over the fierce Atlantic ocean, the white wash of the waves breaking in the distance, and somehow the drink in your hand, the beauty of the black and white liquid, the silky softness of its taste, especially if you were on your second or third pint, meant freedom, ease, time you treasured and longed for.

Read more....

I--Colm Tóibín is the author of the novels "Brooklyn" and "The Master."

See also Sean Scully: Walls of Aran with afterword by Colm Toibin

Tragedy as Galway hooker sailor drowned

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HEROIC EFFORTS by the crew of a Galway hooker to save two brothers whose boat had capsized were praised by a priest at the funeral of a renowned Connemara sailor yesterday.

Fr Peadar Ó Conghaile told hundreds of mourners, who filled not just the church but also the grounds of St Mary's Church in Carna, that the four crewmen should get medals for bravery.

Seán Mac Donncha (67), known locally as Johnny Sheáin Jeaic, lost his life in the accident on Saturday morning as he and his younger brother Josie, went to take their traditional Galway hooker McHugh from Kinvara in the south of the bay to a regatta in Rossaveal. The boat capsized shortly after leaving Kinvara.

Mourners were yesterday told how the crew of Bláth na hÓige , which also left from Kinvara, came to their aid. The four men, Gearóid Ó Cualáin, Máirtín Ó Conghaile, Aonghus Ó Cualáin and Máirtín Ó Ceoinín, managed to rescue Josie but they were unable to save his brother.

"These men, especially Gearóid Ó Cualáin, risked their lives to save others," said Fr Ó Conghaile. The Carna parish priest said that, as in so many other coastal villages, loss at sea was all too frequent. Hundreds of mourners brought the small south Connemara village to a standstill.

St Mary's was packed from early morning and the mourners extended out on to the main road in the village.

They had travelled from the three nearby Aran Islands, Inishbofin and other offshore islands, as well as coastal communities from Cork to Donegal. Others had travelled from the United States where wider family members reside.

"We are all too familiar with loss at sea in these parts, yet there was enormous shock when the news came through on Saturday morning," Fr Ó Conghaile said.

"Johnny was a man who was renowned and respected as a man of the sea, a lover of the Irish language and Irish culture, and a great singer. He is an enormous loss to the community."

Mr Mac Donncha, from Ard West, Carna, is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Kathy, Maureen, Roisín and Fiona, and son Seán. He was buried in Moyrus cemetery outside Carna.

Aran Islands Lifeboat supporters

Aran Islands Lifeboat supporters <David-Kirkaldy>

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This a band for every one who supports or recognises in any way the huge benifit the R.N.L.I is to the Aran Islands, the entire mid-west coast of ireland and of course to all that serve and work on the sea. And to help recognise the heroic voluntary work that the crew do without a second thought.

Since 1927, The Aran Islands lifeboat station has covered the dramatic, rocky wilderness facing outwards to the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly known as Galway Bay until 1995, the lifeboat crews have been presented with over 20 awards for gallantry.

OUR BOAT: R.N.L.B Mr. David Kirkaldy
Category: All-weather
Length: 17m
Range: 250 nautical miles
Speed: 25 knots
Weight: 41 tonnes
Crew: Min: 5, Max: 7
Construction: Fibre Reinforced Composite
Launch type: Moored afloat

Pádraic Connolly becomes a YouTube star

 Filming Pádraic Connolly a tPoll na Peist,  aka the Serpent's Cave or the Worm Hole on Inis Mór, for Tourism Ireland's online film highlighting the 'hidden gems' of County Galway

Galwayman Pádraic Connolly is doing his bit for tourism this year by presenting a short film on the 'hidden gems' of Co Galway on Tourism Ireland's website.  It is one of a series of ten short films or 'webisodes' which have already been viewed by almost 400,000 potential visitors around the world - see here for the video on

Pádraic Connolly takes a trip to the Aran islands

Tourism Ireland recently launched the series of films which feature real local characters from around the island of Ireland introducing their favourite 'hidden gems'.  Galwayman Pádraic Connolly was selected from the 1,000+ people across the island who applied to take part, to tell viewers and potential holidaymakers around the world about some of his favourite places in his home county. 

In the film, Pádraic takes the viewer on a journey around Connemara - highlighting the spectacular scenery and beautiful coastline.  He begins in Roundstone Harbour where he meets some of the local fishermen.  He continues to the beautiful Coral Strand at Carraroe and then it is on to his own birthplace, Rossaveal, and from there to Inis Mór.  Throughout the film, he regales the viewer with his many tales and legends - including a story about the local man who disappeared at the Worm Hole on Inis Mór!  He finishes his journey on Inis Oírr with its cluster of ancient ruins.

"Visitors repeatedly tell us that what distinguishes the island of Ireland from other destinations - what sets us apart from our competitors - is our people and our scenery", said Laughlin Rigby, eMarketing Manager, Tourism Ireland.  "This online movie, presented by Pádraic, provides an added dimension of information on the many attractions on offer in Co Galway, in a novel and entertaining way". 

"Customers are not just searching for the lowest fare any more; they are seeking information and recommendations on the perfect holiday experience - where to go, what to see and do and where to eat.  These movies complement our new global advertising campaign 'Go Where Ireland Takes You'.  The campaign has been designed to capture the spontaneity and fun of holidaying here and to show that some of the most wonderful and memorable experiences you are likely to have here will be stumbled on by chance", Rigby added.

The ten films or 'webisodes', which have been translated into five European languages, feature on Tourism Ireland's suite of 41 websites and are also being promoted in its main overseas markets on Yahoo.  The films will also feature on a new promotional DVD, which will be distributed to potential holidaymakers in the all-important GB market during August.  To see the films, visit


Mervyn Story,   the unionist politician in the mould of Ian Paisley, (thats him on the right behind Big Ian) is making his way to one of the fonts of Irish culture today when he arrive s on Inis Oirr.

Its an historic official visit to one of the Irish-speaking islands made famous by 'Father Ted'. The Islands are also hotbeds of Irish Republican sentiment.

Story is a Bible thumping creationist, and Inis Oirr has been home to all sorts of crackpot cults down the years. he should feel at home, at least in that regard.

Over the decades they have provided quiet hideaways for Republicans keeping their heads down during 'the troubles.'

Storey's fact-finding mission to Inis Oirr (smallest of the Aran Islands with a population of over 260 inhabitants) is with Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon O Cuiv and Northern Ireland's Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy.

Storey is Democratic Unionist Party MLA for North Antrim, a creationist and a member of Ian Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church.


He was last in the news on 14 July after trouble flared in Rasharkin following a Twelfth parade as nationalists attacked police officers. They were pelted with petrol bombs and fireworks, while golf balls and other missiles were also thrown at bandsmen and Orangemen.

Three officers were hurt.
Earlier, an Independent Orange parade in the village had passed without incident.
 Storey said the violence was the worst he had seen for many years.
"Clearly there was an attempt by republicans to inflict damage and injury to people involved in the feeder parade.
"There are people who cannot hide their sectarian hatred of anything Protestant or a different culture to their own.
"There were senior citizens and children in this parade so they didn't care who they hit as long as it was a Prod.
"I'm happy to say the police acted to protect the parade and I hope now that arrests will follow."
The MLA said the situation in the village appeared to be worsening.
"This comes on the back of a litany of sectarian bigotry - of petrol bomb attacks on the Orange hall and numerous attacks on Protestants living in the village - it's the worst I've seen in a number of years."
On Sunday in the village, petrol bombs were thrown at an Orange hall on Main Street and a house on Lisnahunshin Road, but all failed to ignite.
A 38-year-old man has been charged with attempted arson in relation to the attack on the Orange hall - the same premises which had earlier been daubed with sectarian graffiti.
Tensions were running high across North Antrim following a series of attacks.
DUP North Antrim Assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr has described an arson attack on a Protestant family in Ballymena as "sickening".
The house in the town's mainly Catholic Dunclug estate was extensively damaged in the incident, which took place around 9.15pm on Sunday.
Although the family was not at home at the time, Mr Paisley said that they were jeered on their return by a group of bystanders.

He said the family had been "systematically abused" by what he described as "local thugs" on the estate.

The SDLP's North Antrim MLA, Declan O'Loan, said: "Everyone has to be on their guard against rising sectarian tensions and provide all the help possible to the PSNI in dealing with incidents."

Meanwhile, in the Rosnashane area outside Ballymoney, an Ancient Order of Hibernians hall was broken into.

Paint was thrown inside the hall and a number of musical instruments were damaged during the attack on Sunday night.

In Fermanagh, the Wattlebridge Orange Hall near Newtownbutler was smoke damaged after a tyre was set alight and placed against the wall of the property at about 3am yesterday.

In a separate incident, the door of a church hall in High Street was also damaged.

Police are treating all the incidents as sectarian.