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The short hop across the Atlantic from the mainland to Aran Islands can be made as a 10-minute chartered flight, or as part of a more leisurely scenic flight. The departure point for both is Connemara Airport, a small airport that only offers flights to the islands or pleasure flights. Connemara Airport is located at Inverin, just a few miles west of Galway.
Of course, you can take the ferry across to the Aran Islands, but these short flights allow you take in the splendid cliffs, get a sense of the remote setting and appreciate the criss-cross patterns made by the ancient drystone walls.
There are five daily flights to and from the largest island of Inishmór, and three flights going there and back for the smaller islands of Inisheer and Inishmaan.
There is something almost delightfully anachronistic about arriving at such historic places by means of a contemporary mode of transport, but it won’t be long after your flight lands that you have forgotten the trappings of civilisation and settled into an older, slower way of life.
If you are flying to Ireland to visit the Aran Islands you have a number of choices of airports to fly to. The most convenient are the airports of Shannon and Knock.
At over 2 hours away by road the airports of Cork, Sligo and Dublin may offer a wider choice of flights but they certainly add quite a long drive to your ultimate destination once your flight lands.
By contrast a flight to Shannon, one of Ireland’s three major airports, will leave you just over an hour’s drive to get to Connemara for a connecting flight or to Galway for the ferry. Shannon sees over one and a half million passengers every year and offers flights to and from London (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead), Birmingham and Manchester as well as destinations in Europe and America.
There are regular buses running from the airport to Galway, many taxis available outside the terminal or you can hire a car for the quick drive up the M18 and N18.
Flights to Knock Airport (or West Ireland Knock as it is officially known) can be taken from London (Luton, Gatwick and Stanstead), Liverpool, Manchester, East Midlands and Bristol (summer only). The airport is located 3.5 miles southwest of Charlestown, County Mayo, and an hour and a half drive to the airport for flights to the Aran Islands or to Galway for the ferries. There are also flights available to and from European destinations.
Although smaller than Shannon the airport still sees more than 700,000 passengers a year and offers all the facilities that you would expect. There are regular bus services running to Galway, taxi cabs for hire and a range of car rental kiosks.
For an adventurous sense of the remote, the Aran Islands have long embodied fantasies of escaping the trappings of civilisation and living a life less ordinary. Yet, the true beauty of them is that they are not so remote at all: they are perfectly close to hand with a flight.
Touch down, fly in and drop out.