Inisheer, the smallest of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland
© Chris Hill/Minden Picture
An emerald isle of the Emerald Isle
If you were to find yourself wandering across the tiny island of Inisheer on March 17, you’d almost certainly hear someone greet you with a hearty 'Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!' That’s because nearly all the island’s 260 residents would want to wish you a happy Saint Patrick’s Day in their native Irish tongue. The smallest of the three Aran Islands that are strung across the mouth of Galway Bay in western Ireland has been inhabited from prehistory, with artifacts of Bronze Age, Pagan, Celtic, Early Christian, Norman-Irish, Pastoral, Maritime Navigational, and more recent settlements scattered around its 1,400 acres.
The tiny drystone wall subdivisions of the fields are a result of a long tradition of splitting family farms between all the children. After a few generations, farms were reduced to the garden-size patches you can see here. These days, the islanders are best-known for keeping the traditional language, music, art, and stories alive, so you can be sure that they're celebrating the day in style. And if you can’t make it there today (or next year), you could always come back on June 14, when residents celebrate the island’s patron saint, Saint Caomhán. Bonus: It’s likely to be a little warmer and drier then, too.