Monday 22 October 2018

'A place lost in time' - New York Times visits the Aran Islands

Following in the footsteps of JM Synge, travel writer and movie star Andrew McCarthy has taken several trips west...

Dun Aonghasa, Inis Mor: The photograph was taken by Raymond Fogarty of AirCam Ireland using a drone. Fogarty's Wild Atlantic Way journey was supported by Fáilte Ireland.
Dun Aonghasa, Inis Mor: The photograph was taken by Raymond Fogarty of AirCam Ireland using a drone. Fogarty's Wild Atlantic Way journey was supported by Fáilte Ireland.
Serpent's Lair - Inis Mór, Aran Islands (Wild Atlantic Way)
Andrew McCarthy talking about his travel book "The Longest Way Home" at Barnes & Noble in LA, 2012. Photo by Victor Decolongon/FilmMagic
Kilmurvey Beach, Inis Mór
A busy scene as tourists arrive on Inis Óirr. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Inisheer (Inis Oirr), Aran Islands
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

The Aran Islands are "predominantly Irish-speaking, insular and, as even in Synge's era, considered a place lost in time," according to the New York Times.

Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr star in a travel feature written by Hollywood actor and author Andrew McCarthy this week.

McCarthy visited the islands over a period of several months, he explains, returning over and again to illuminate "details and patterns of day-to-day local life" and the "deep appeal" that emerges once day-tripping tourists depart.

"Part of the considerable allure of Aran lies in what it lacks," he says. "There are no movie theaters and few cars; electricity only arrived in the 1970s."

2018-09-08_lif_43805298_I3.JPG
A busy scene as tourists arrive on Inis Óirr. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Travelling partly in the footsteps of J.M Synge, author of 'Playboy of the Western World', McCarthy spends time at Dún Aonghasa (pictured top), the Synge's Chair viewpoint and, of course, evokes plenty of dry-stone walls and Atlantic seascapes.

He also notes 21st century detail, however - like Inis Mór's "glamping structures", coffee carts and fudge stands on Inis Oírr, and pays a visit to Ruairi and Marie-Therese de Blacam's Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites.

With over 3.5 million subscribers across digital and print and one of the most storied brands in world media, the New York Times influences the decisions of countless potential tourists, particularly from North America.

McCarthy's piece, and another NYT story this week on Dublin's Henrietta Street, come as North American visits to Ireland rose 11pc in the first six months of 2018, with revenue up almost 10pc, according to recent CSO figures.

Andrew McCarthy.jpg
Andrew McCarthy talking about his travel book "The Longest Way Home" at Barnes & Noble in LA, 2012. Photo by Victor Decolongon/FilmMagic

As an actor, McCarthy is best known for his roles in 1980s movies Pretty in Pink and St Elmo’s Fire, but has latterly forged a reputation as a  travel writer and author.

He is a regular visitor to Ireland, in 2015 writing a cover story on Kerry for National Geographic Traveller.

"The century that separated me from Synge seemed suddenly trivial, and a world beyond these dry stone walls didn’t matter at all," are his parting words in the Aran Islands piece.

"You have to be OK with yourself to live here," as one resident tells him.

Read the full New York Times story here.

Read more:

Savage Beauty: New tourism strategy shoots for 'true essence' of Aran Islands and Connemara

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