The Aran Islands or The Arans are Ireland's largest archipelago of inhabited islands, located at the mouth of Galway Bay, in the West of Ireland.
The islands are named Inis Mor, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr meaning the big island, the middle island and the east island. The name Aran probably comes from the Irish word 'ara' meaning kidney and is referred to the kidney-shape ridge of Inis Mor.
The islands cover 43.3 km2 and are home to around fourteen hundred people, more than half living on Inis Mor, where the main village is Kilronan.
It is only in recent years that Aran's natural beauty and rich history has received official recognition. The heritage of these islands is a unique fragile balance between nature, archaeology, social history, Irish language, folklore, natural environment and traditional farming and must be protected and preserved for future generations.
The islands have a temperate climate classified as 'oceanic'. Average air temperatures range from 15°C in July to 6°C in January with a small gap between summer highs and winter lows like other coastal areas in Galway and Mayo.
The climate of the Arans is characterised by mild winter, high winds, high relative humidity and moderately high rainfall.
High winds on the Aran Islands are persistent with a speed between 6 and 7 m/sec. Storms and gales are frequent in wintertime which create impressive storm beaches along the cliffs and terraces. On the south-west coast of Inis Mòr and Inis Meàin puffing holes are very common: the wind-driven waves wear away the rock and break upwards some distance inland. Puffing holes can emit high columns of water and probably they created the pool of Poll na bPeist, near the stone fort of Dùn Aonghasa.
Rainfall on the islands is moderate and spread throughout the year. In summertime, droughts are common and for this reason in bygone years horses and cattle were transported to Connemara. Late May is the sunniest time on the Aran Islands and probably the best time to view flowers and bushes in bloom.