THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ARAN ISLANDS, or South Aran, three Islands lying across Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland, in a south-easterly direction, forming a kind of natural breakwater. They belong to the county Galway, and their population in 1901 was 2863. They are called respectively—beginning with the northernmost—Inishmore (or Aranmore), the Great Island; Inishmaan, the Middle Island; and Inisheer, the Eastern Island. The First has an elevation of 354 ft., the second of 259, and the third of 202. Their formation is carboniferous limestone. These Islands are remarkable for a number of architectural remains of a very early date. In Inishmore there stand, on a cliff 220 ft. high, large remains of a circular cyclopean tower, called Dun-Aengus, ascribed to the Fir-bolg or Belgae; or, individually, to the First of three brothers, Aengus, Conchobar and Nil, who reached Aran Islands from Scotland in the 1st century A.D. There are seven other similar structures in the group. Inishmore also bears the name of Aran-na-naomh, Aran-of-the-Saints, from the number of religious recluses who took up their abode in it, and gave a celebrity to the holy wells, altars and shrines, to which many are still attracted. No less, indeed, than twenty buildings of ecclesiastical or monastic character have been enumerated in the three islands. On Inishmore are remains of the abbey of Killenda. Christianity was introduced in the 5th century, and Aran soon became one of the most famous island-resorts of religious teachers and ascetics. The extraordinary fame of the foundations here has been inferred from the inscription “VII. Romani” on a stone in the church Teampull Brecain on Inishmore, attributed to disciples from Rome. The total area of the islands is 11,579 acres. The Congested Districts Board made many efforts to improve the condition of the inhabitants, especially by introducing better methods of fishing. A curing station is established at Killeany, the harbour of Inishmore.
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