Known in Irish as Oileáin Árann, the Aran Islands are three islands off the west coast of Ireland. The islands consist of Inishmore (or Inis Mór, being the largest and most populated island with a population of 831), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin, population 187) and Inisheer (Inis Oírr, the smallest island with a population of 262).
The closest mainland city is Galway, about fifty kilometres northeast.
Its craggy, rocky and windswept features make the islands unsuitable for any form of commercial farming. Fishing and especially tourism instead drives the local economy with the number of tourists each day in summer easily outnumbering locals. People are attracted to the Aran islands to view its edge-of-the-world karst scenery and experience its own distinctive traditional culture, indomitable to nature and isolation. For this reason the islands have inspired writers like Isabella Augusta, Pádraig Ó Síocháin and John Millington Synge, not to mention the famous 1934 ethnographic film Man of Aran, which captures the starkness of life for Aran fishermen eking out an existence in the lethally savage waters of Galway Bay.
The islands were thought to have been settled in the late Bronze Age, and had a population boost from refugees fleeing Oliver Cromwell in the seventeenth century. Its isolation has helped preserve the Irish language - one can hear the Irish language being spoken more frequently on the islands than most other parts of Ireland.
The islands are also famous for Aran sweaters, traditionally made from unscoured wool that makes the sweater somewhat water resistant. Thanks to one of Synge's play a morbid myth has emerged about the sweater - that each family has a distinctive design in order to identify its unlucky wearer should his body end up drowned on a beach.