Árainn Mhóir Island

It is 20 years since I last visited this large island in the Rosses, West Donegal

Aran Mór cottage

Situated next door to Owey Island it has about 500 full-time residents, serviced by two car ferries in regular daily crossings

granite boulder wall

What remains of the old wall system are the bouldery granite kind

But the uninhabited northern shore is treachery itself – with cliffs of 120 meters   

cliffs north Aran Mór

A harsh outpost, the lighthouse dates from 1798 – only gulls and sheep left here.

Aran Mór lighthouse

cliffs Aran Mór

Here we find a pristine bog – worked with exactitude and respect – with sods carefully replaced after turf has been extracted.

Upon enquiry, we are told that the man responsible is known as ‘Donnelly’


A rigorous man who, we are told, has also built a mysterious structure high upon a hill above his bog. 

We set to investigate & after a steep climb reach a beautifully crafted road.

Then at the summit we behold..

hand made road

..this feat!!

Donnelly's hut

Donnelly has used a natural rock outcrop to build a cabin.

Up here, the granite is brittle & angular

dug in

Implanted into the mountainside, at the front he had to dig 10 feet down, to reach stone foundation

Donnelly's hut

Mostly dry stone work, with a little cement towards the top, these battered walls are 4.5 foot wide at the base..

Donnelly's hut Aran Mor

Donnelly intends to install a sod roof upon these scaffold pipes

inside Donnelly's hut

We are talking here about the labour of ONE man.

Over two WINTERS.

Equipped ONLY with a spade & a hammer (and a bottle of poitín)

Donnelly's kingdom

Some Irish people are plain astonishing.

4 thoughts on “Árainn Mhóir Island

  1. So many bogs have been rendered useless by careless or non existent after cut care, with the sod thrown without thought in to the morass – this Donnelly man seems to live as if things matter. More power to him.

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