Ready for the final installment? Hidden Gems of Inishmore’s Eastern end.
1) The Black Fort – Dun Duchathair. HIKING LEVEL: MEDIUM (but extra caution needed)
This is, personally, my favorite spot on the island. Definitely off the beaten track. This promontory cliff fort has not been excavated, and I’ve read and heard different things about it. Some say it’s older than Dun Aengus. Some say it’s not. Some say it was at one time circular. Nobody knows for sure. Its name, Duchathair (pronounced doo-CAH-her), mean something like “Black City,” named for the darker color of the limestone on this part of the island. It’s made of one tall, thick stone wall that cuts off a peninsula of land at the neck. There’s a bit of the remains of a chevaux-de-frise around the exterior. Inside are remains of stone huts. There are two fantastic caverns on either side of the peninsula where you can watch and hear the waves hitting the cliffs. The cliffs here aren’t as high as Dun Aengus, so you feel a bit closer to the sea. The views here are magnificent.
HOW TO GET THERE: Walk on the main road, east out of Kilronan, past the beach. You’ll see a road that curves steeply up the hillside to the right. (There’s also a small lake there). Take the road up, and follow the dirt road to the right, which will snake up the hillside. The dirt road turns into a stone path. Once you reach the end of the path and the top of the hillside and can see the cliffs and the ocean, walk east (left), staying close (but not too close!) to the cliffs. You’ll see the fort come into view. The best way to enter the fort is through a small opening on the very far left side of the wall (it’s literally a couple of feet from the cliff, so be extremely cautious). Best to walk back the same way you came, otherwise you might find yourself in a maze of stone-walled fields.
2) Iarairne – Eastern Coastline – HIKING LEVEL – EASY
A truly beautiful location. Here you have rabbit fields, a hidden beach, a view of Gregory’s Sound and Inishmaan, and the waves crashing against the rocks. This is a great place to have a picnic, or to sit and read or a while. Very peaceful.
HOW TO GET THERE: Cycle east out of Kilronan, through Killeany, past the graveyard, until you get to a stone wall at the end of the road with a walking sign next to it. To go the beach from here, take the sharp left in the road and continue to cycle until you get to the beach. Or, if you prefer, lock up your bikes here and walk through the rabbit fields until you get to the coast line. If you look around you, you’ll probably see some rabbits hopping around. Be careful not to trip into a rabbit hole!
3) Puffing Holes – HIKING LEVEL – MEDIUM-DIFFICULT, (extra caution needed!)
There are three mapped puffing holes on the south eastern coast of Inis mor. To be totally honest, I was not able to find them on my own. They are very difficult to locate, and at the moment they are not marked. It’s best to go with someone who knows where there are, or who has super navigational skills. They will also only be active on a stormy or very windy day, so if it’s a nice, calm day, you won’t find them if you’re looking for water spraying up into the air!
Here’s a video I found:
To get there: The hike itself isn’t difficult except that it’s not marked well, but once you’re near the puffing holes you need to be very careful.
Once you’ve reached the eastern coastline, walk up the path in the grass up the hillside, until you get to the round tower. Behind the round tower, there will be another grassy path heading down the hillside towards the south. Follow it all the way down, and begin to walk west (to the right). You’ll be stepping over grass and limestone. The first, and largest puffing hole is a large rectangular hole in the stone. Just watch where you’re going! All these puffing holes appear out of nowhere.
The other two puffing holes are very close by, but are more difficult to find.
Here’s how my boyfriend says he was able to find the second one, which is a smaller hole, a rocky sort of pit, in the rocky area closer to the southern coast: “I followed the ring of the coastline until I heard a curious pounding sound coming from the fields. I went closer and closer to what looked like a pit and saw at the bottom a tiny hole that led to the magnificent cavern-like hole.” Maybe not the most reliable to find something, but it worked for him!
The third is to the right of the rectangular puffing hole in a field to the east. Before you enter the field, depending where you enter you may see a sign painted onto a rock that says “danger.” This grassy puffing hole is especially perilous because you don’t really see it until you almost walk into it, so proceed with EXTREME CAUTION. If it is a stormy day, be extra careful, since the rocks and grass around these areas will be slippery.
**If you have better directions to any of the puffing holes, please share!
And after you’ve been hiking all day, you can take a little nap in a field of flowers on your way back!
What are some more hidden gems of Inis mor? Or special places on any of the islands you’d like to share? Leave a comment here, and share your photos on the facebook page.