Island People – Considering a life on the Aran Islands
A life on the Aran Islands is certainly something one would dream about.
A life surrounded by fishing, farming, culture and nature. However, it may not be suited to everybody. We looked into rent, schools and services, to see how feasible that life really is.
Houses are available to rent on the Aran Islands at between €300 and €500 per month. The cost of living is very low. With an area solely dependent on tourism and the local industries we can see how the locals work hard to make a living. There are planes to Galway every day and the boat crosses every morning and evening which allow the inhabitants to work on mainland if they wish. The locals claim that life on the island is very rewarding, with a “culture all of its own” and a “close community”. “We have our own musical and sporting traditions and events, we even have our own feast days”, say locals.
“We live on a hidden treasure”, says one local. “I’ve lived the urban life and our standard of living is much higher here.” The school curriculum is broad and colorful and always grounded in the cultural heritage of this island. However there is a growing unease among the islanders. Some years there are as little as 5 students that enroll in the local primary school, which is a worrying thought that could result in losing a teacher.
Orlaith, from Dublin, a primary school teacher from Ballinteer moved to Inis Meain in 1996 to pursue her teaching career. Orlaith says “walking out the door of Inis Meain primary school is a pleasure in itself. Small-scale farming and fishing are the main industries here and these have made little impact on the landscape apart from the animals, the dry stone walls and the little currachs on the shoreline.” With only 170 people on the island you see the same faces and a real sense of community is among them.
Orlaith speaks of the services on the island which include a 24-hour public health nurse and doctor three days a week, broadband, one primary and one secondary school.
Essay from a student
This is an essay recently written by a student attending school on the Aran Islands for one year. Their response to this question prompt below will give you a wee heart-warming insight into what school life can be like on the Aran Islands in the eyes of a student. Enjoy!
‘Last August I was fortunate enough to be accepted for a scholarship to the Aran Islands and it is home to fewer than one hundred people for most of the year, this tiny island made an immediate impression on me that can only be described as positive, have created experiences and learned valuable lessons I will never forget.
This small Island off the west coast of Ireland and its people were welcoming from day one, I was embraced with open arms and saw clearly that my new host family and teachers were going to do everything possible to give me the gift of enriching my Irish, create a positive learning experience and a new understanding of Irish culture and history, this open embrace showed me how determined and passionate these people are to pass on our ancient language as well as the traditional culture of Ireland and the Aran islands, this was a positive experience as it really opened my eyes to my heritage, nationality and the realisation of how important community and culture is each and every person not just in Ireland but around the world, it has given me a positive outlook on the importance of the place you come from and has showed me the true meaning of being part of a great story, your own country.
This experience has thought me many things, for example patience, the change of language and surroundings was a big leap from my previous school of one thousand students to a rural number, this new environment was very different at first but through patience I began to see the results of the hard work I put into Irish and embracing the island life.
The transfer from one thousand students was a significant change in my education and opened my eyes to the different environment each school has to itself. The substantial change in the number of students around me to a very Small group taught me that by being positive and open to everyone around you it creates the best positive environment to match with the very personal level of education. This gave me a new impression and perspective on the effect environment and people have on your education, this was very positive as I feel | gained an understanding and more of a rounded view on self-development as well as academic as it showed me that you need to be happy and comfortable in your education to truly benefit and succeed in school.
Another positive impression and experience I will never forget is when learned what is true sense of community and togetherness, of course I had an idea of what community meant but I did not truly grasp the feeling until started to attend the school. From the start I was immediately taken aback, in awe and impressed with the maturity all of my fellow students, it was clear they all understood that everyone was going to be in a small intense environment. Every student from first year to sixth year knew a choice had to be made, that was to get on with and respect everyone around you, this really left me with a positive and an invaluable lesson as it showed me that by coming together and recognising we are all in the same boat we can all grow together and respect one another because of the understanding of the unique situation we all had as one.
This experience has granted me priceless lessons about life and striving to achieve your goals in no matter what situation. It has given me a new perspective on education and influenced me as a person mentally and socially, it has given me the most positive impression than any other major life experience I have ever had and will truly be with me for the rest of my life, only gain and keep on gaining while attending on.
I will take away priceless memories and stories that will leave a permanent positive impression on me for years to come.’
Student Guest Blogger
So could you do it? Something to think about!