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Aran Islands, Co. Galway

A landscape of limestone, left bare by the glaciers of the Ice Age, sculptured by the Neolithic tomb maker, the monastic architect, and the farm wall builder, with one material - STONE. A sight that endures in the mind, and makes a visit plus good diving and unforgettable experience.
There are three islands, Inisheer, Inishmore, a group called the Aran Islands. It is possible to cross to them from Galway (long route), Rossaveal (short route to Maan and More), and from Doolin in Co. Clare to Inisheer, by ferry.

It is possible to travel by air, (Air Aran) from close to Rossaveal, but problems may arise with both diving cylinder and weights.

Island diving is always more difficult than diving from the mainland, because of the additional requirements of total dependency i.e. boats, compressor, fuel, and spares. There is as yet no Dive Centre on any of the Islands.

Accommodation on all Islands is very good, of the bed and breakfast type similar to the mainland. It is strongly recommended that local contact be made in advance to ensure a smooth trip.

1. The Canyon
This site lies between the Brannock Rock and the North Light. The area between these two Islands is flat limestone about 10m deep. Opposite the landing stage for the lighthouse there is a vertical canyon about 30-45m wide, 400m long running East/west, with the bottom at 33m. As this is a limestone area the walls of the canyon are fissured and abound with all sorts of fish life. Visibility will often permit divers on one side of the canyon to see divers on the opposite side. There is a slight current, the site is partially exposed and the maximum wind would be Force 3. Find the canyon with an echo sounder.

2. Poll Na bPeist (Worm Hole)
This is on the Atlantic side of Inismor and consists of a rectangular opening in the flat foreshore, and looks like a man made swimming pool. Entry is through a wide underground cavern about 25m long, depth in the pool is about 15m. Outside the pool is strewn with huge boulders and the bottom slopes away to 45m deep after 300m. This site is located under Dun Angus, which is perched on top of vertical cliff 90m high. There is good shelter here in winds from the North to East, but is not diveable in Westerly winds above Force 2.

3. Brannock
Located between Brannock Rock and the main Island, this site is made of a series of steps starting at 8m at the shore reaching 32m after 60m. The steps are 2.5-3m high, and are fissured and undercut, perfect abodes for various life forms.

This is the most sheltered site and is exposed only to North to East winds. Winds up to Force 4 are no problem, there is no current and it is protected from the Atlantic swell.

4. Gob Na Fearbhai (Farvey Point)
A dive site stretching for about two and a half kilometres, beginning 0.8km South of the Island Pier, at the point of Gob Na Ferarbhai. There are ledges at 10, 20 and 3.m running parallel to the shore, and the shallow ledges are very suitable for novices. As one moves out into deeper water 30m+, the area is covered in great boulders with excellent colour and fish life. This site is protected from the prevailing South Westerly winds. Currents are 1.5 knots at full flow.

5. Poill Seidte (Puffing Holes)
As the name suggests, a dive for the quiet (windless) day or a wind from the North, which is rare during Summer months. Situated on the Southern point of the Island the drop off close to shore is sudden and dramatic. Dive on the rising tide as this gives greater comfort to the diver.

6. Poll Gorm (Blue Poll)
Dive site on the exposed side of Inismaan facing Inishmore, under steep cliffs. The spot known as Synge's chair is directly above the dive site, this was Synge's favourite place of meditation. Very colourful drop offs and wonderful colour, depths to 45m. As with all dive sites facing the open Atlantic, diving can only be safely undertaken in good weather conditions.

7. Finnis Reef
Dive site three miles West of Inisheer Pier, half way between East marker of the reef and the Island, depth 15m. The reef stretches from the Island East 1.2km, and bottoms out on to a sandy bottom. the colour plant and marine life is very varied, dive on the rising tide.