Arranmore Island is an island in The Rosses, County Donegal. It is the largest inhabited island in County Donegal, and the second largest in all of Ireland, with a population of 528 in 2006, down from 543 in 2002, and over 600 in 1996.
The island lies 3 miles off Burtonport and can be accessed by ferry boats that run daily all year. There are two larger ferries that can accommodate vehicles up to 128 feet long in addition to foot passengers, as well as a smaller "fast ferry" which can accommodate only foot passengers. Travel time on the larger ferries is around 15-20 minutes, while the fast ferry travels from port to port in about 5 minutes. The two larger ferries are owned by separate companies and as such, if you travel to the island on one boat, you must return to the mainland on the same vessel or you will be charged twice. As of Summer 2009, the current rate per person is €15 and can be paid either at the ticket office in Burtonport or while on the ferry in-transit. However, if you travel to the island during after hours, the price will likely be higher and can cost €50.
If you leave your vehicle behind at the Burtonport pier, parking is limited, but free. On a particularly busy day, it is possible that you may be "boxed-in" by other parked cars if they do not leave you enough room, so plan accordingly. While no official security for parked cars is provided, the parking area is within close view of both ferries when they are docked and locals and ferry operators alike will not allow suspicious behaviour to go unquestioned.
The trip to the island affords spectacular views, passing a number of small islands before crossing a stretch of open Atlantic water. Donegal International Airport is about 25 minutes by car from the Burtonport pier and there is accessibility provided by private coaches from Galway/Dublin/Belfast.
These two companies offer ferries to Arranmore:
Walking is usually sufficient for travel to any destination on the island, and if necessary, there is a local taxi service and occasional community bus available, details of which can be obtained locally.
- The coastguard station and the lighthouse, whose predecessor has warned seafarers from the islands shores since 1798, are situated on Rinrawros Point at the Northwest of the island providing a focal point for exploration of the surrounding area.
- The island has a unique collection of wildlife inhabitants. The three miles of open Atlantic ocean prevents access to and from the mainland for land based animals. As a result Arranmore lacks a large number of land animals which might be familiar to anyone living on the Irish mainland. Birdlife is not restricted by the sea and the absence of many of their natural predators means they can live and breed with relative ease on the island. This is reflected in the large number and variety of birds seen every year.
- Fishing Árainn Mhór boasts excellent lake and sea angling. There are two freshwater lakes which contain Brown trout and one, Loch Shore, is the only lake in Europe where Rainbow trout breed naturally. The rich waters around the island provide numerous Cod, Ling, Conger eel, Pollock, Wrasse, Skate, Turbot and Plaice. Boats for sea angling can be arranged locally by phoning Mickey "Eddie" Gallagher +353 74 952-0522 or Neily Boyle +353 74 952-0745. Another service which has just begun caters for tours and island hopping.
- Diving There are many small, secluded beaches on the island as well as the main beaches at Aphort and Leabgarrow. The crystal clear waters, shipwrecks, drift dives and varied marine life provide excellent snorkelling and Scuba diving. There are dedicated visitor moorings for yachts and cruisers on the island
- Walking Excellent views of the mainland from Glen Head to Tory Island are to be found while walking the islands 7 square miles. There is also a walking trail marked as "Arranmore Way" (Slí Árainn Mhóir).
Árainn Mhór is an Irish-speaking area of the country, although the inhabitants often choose to speak English for convenience. However, any Irish speaker is most likely to find a willing conversation partner in any of the local public houses.
Arranmore is certainly no shopper's paradise! There is a grocery shop that serves the immediate needs of the inhabitants and visitors. Otherwise, serious shopping has to be done on the mainland, in Dungloe or even Letterkenny.
The island has a hotel and restaurant near the ferry landing, and Phil Bán's shop nearby stocks groceries for the self-catering hostel. There is also sometimes a portable 'chip-van' outside popular venues, most often at weekends and holidays, and more often during the summer months.
The public house "Early's", also near the ferry, serves pizza made on the premises on request.
- Phil Bán's. A traditional-style Irish pub right near the ferry, and only metres away from the hostel door, Phil Bán's serves a good variety of drinks with a smoking area which leads directly onto the beach.
- Early's Bar. Home to a group of devout Celtic FC supporters, Early's hosts occasional entertainment. The staff also serve pizza during certain hours.
- Smuggler's. This venue is split in two. One part serves as a normal bar; the other is occasionally open as a nightclub area, usually at weekends and more often during the summer months.
- Neily's. Run by a charming couple, this bar adjoins to the general shop next door. The staff are usually more than willing to fetch grocery itmes from next door if required, and even to sell beer for 'take-out'.
- Glen Hotel, ☎ .
- Brú Árainn Mhór, ☎ .