Tommy Tiernan highlights the delights of Inis Oírr


The delights of the smallest of the Aran Islands as a place to escape to are highlighted by comedian Tommy Tiernan in a beautiful 90 second video which aims to raise funds for the island’s unique arts centre.

Tiernan, who lives in Galway, made the video to highlight the peace, tranquillity, and stunning natural beauty of Inis Oírr.

The star of ‘Derry Girls’ and host of a popular chat show on RTÉ One television is urging people to enter a draw for a fabulous prize of a five night holiday for four people on the island.

The fundraising draw is to support the most westerly arts centre in all of Europe, which has been supporting the creation of great art for the past 21 years.

As Ireland reopens for “staycations” following months of lockdown, there is bound to be huge interest in the prize of a self-catering holiday, with transport from the mainland and a host of extras included.

“One of the most beautiful places in the whole wide world,” says Tiernan in his video. “A small, magical, Gaeltacht island off the mouth of Galway Bay. To the north of me is Connemara, to the west the wild Atlantic Ocean, to the south the beautiful Burren.

“It is sometimes the small things in the smallest places that have the most magical effect.”

Tommy worked with cameraman Rónán O Conghaile and Fibín to make the stunning video during a recent visit to Inis Oírr.

Tickets for the draw cost just €10. Funds raised will help Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaíne to continue inspiring great art by visiting artists and musicians as it celebrates its 21st birthday in 2021.

Included are a return ferry or airplane from the mainland and a selection of prizes sponsored by local businesses, with a fully stocked fridge, a seaweed bath and spa voucher, bike hire, fuel and a horse and cart trip around the island. The lucky winner will be drawn on July 17.

Few other artists’ retreats in Europe can match the spectacular landscape, the peace and tranquillity, and the beautiful but fragile language and culture of Inis Oírr, a place where you can still hear the Irish language being spoken by locals every day.

The island boasts stunning, peaceful walks, with amazing views of the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare and the other two Aran Islands. Visitors can spot the mountains of Co Kerry to the south on a clear day, and generations of ‘Fr Ted’ fans love to check out the wreck of the Plassey, which looks out on the Burren.

With a white, sandy beach; distinctive stone walls, and excellent accommodation and eating options in the small main village, it’s easy to understand why the same people return to the unspoilt island every year.

If anything, the coronavirus pandemic is set to boost the popularity of quiet, peaceful places such as Inis Oírr, where “social distancing” is rarely an issue, this year.

Photo: Cormac Coyne
Photo: Cormac Coyne

The Artistic Director of Áras Éanna, Dara McGee, is busy planning 21st birthday celebrations in July. McGee has been delighted by the success of the centre’s first ever fundraising draw so far after being taken aback by the support he received from local businesses.

“The main draw for an artist here is the island itself, the environment and sheer beauty of the island, the stone walls, it’s a very magical and inspirational place. There is something about being on an island as well, being away from the mainland, which gives you that isolation and time to think, a chance to give yourself influence and inspiration for your work,” said McGee.

“This year is very special. We were hoping to celebrate our 20th anniversary last year, but with the Covid19 restrictions we decided that now is the time to celebrate as Ireland begins to open up again.”

The 21st birthday celebrations this summer will include three simultaneous outdoor exhibitions all around the island, a concert featuring the best of the island’s local musicians on the Gaelic football pitch, and shows by artists who have enjoyed time out on Inis Oírr over the past 21 years.

The outdoor exhibitions will fully comply with the coronavirus guidelines while showcasing the talents of local island residents and 21 artists from all over Ireland.

Like many West of Ireland communities, the Aran Islands have been hit hard by emigration over many years, but sustainable tourism has transformed the economy in recent years as people seek out beautiful places off the beaten track and enjoy the hospitality of the friendly locals.

“During the summer, there can be the hustle and the bustle down around the main village and the harbour, but you can then go half a mile around the back of the island and you are on your own,” said McGee.

“If you walk around the back of the island, it is just another world. So Inis Oírr is very special that way, with the beauty of the island, the language, the people, and the culture. The next stop is Boston as they say around here!”

You can win a five night holiday on Inis Oírr by entering the draw at

Ciaran Tierney is a digital journalist, tourism officer, and an award-winning current affairs blogger. Find him at and on Twitter @ciarantierney

Cormac Coyne is a photographer and schoolteacher who lives on the beautiful island of Inis Oirr.