The Aran Islands - Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer - lie thirty miles off the coast of Western Ireland. Although tourism is beginning to encroach on Inishmore, the largest island, Aran remains a place where time has stood still. The islanders speak both Irish and English, and on Inishmaan the older people wear the traditional multi-colored shawls and belts. The people are a mixture of friendliness and reserve, and welcome tourists to this very special place. Kathy Curtin and George L Smyth visited these islands in September 1995, and these are their memories
Photography by George L Smyth, text by Kathleen Curtin
There is a mystery and a magic that surround the Aran Islands - a sense of having slipped back in time.
Fishermen still use the centuries-old currach. The light, open boats glide over the calm sea, yet can handle the pounding of the Atlantic waves.
Thatched cottages like these are no longer used as homes, but they give the Aran Island landscape its distinctive look.
It is possible to wander Inshmaan all day and not see another person. We travelled over most of the island before meeting this man and his friend returning from a hard day's work.
The countless stone walls form an intricate mosaic as far as the eye can see.
John Millington Synge journeyed to the Aran Islands in the early 1900s to learn the Irish language and get to know the island people. His spirit lives on at his cottage on Inishmaan.
Celtic crosses paint a lonely silhouette against the Irish sky.
The old woman, dressed in traditional clothing, seems to embody the peaceful, timeless quality that is such a special part of the Aran Islands.