"The general knowledge of time on the island depends, curiously enough, on the direction of the wind"
Playwright John Millington Synge about the Aran Islands
It's not until you stand on the edge of one of Ireland's Aran islands that you really feel you're on the edge of the world. Ireland's islands offer something special: a get-away-from-it all atmosphere, a feeling of being somewhere unlike anywhere else in the world.
From the incredible wind- and wave-battered coastlines to the genuine friendliness of the locals, each offers a different character and a clear, unspoiled beauty that seems to have a lasting effect on visitors.
The Aran Islands sit off the west coast, surrounded by wild Atlantic. They have a romantic aura with stone walls, prehistoric forts, wind-battered coastlines and pristine beaches. They're also famous for the chunky Aran jumpers designed to battle the tumultuous winter weather.
The craggy Skelligs rise pinnacle-like out of the Atlantic waters off County Kerry and are a Unesco World Heritage site. As well as being a centre of wildlife; monks lived here in small beehive-shaped stone huts from the Early Christian Period, and you can still see the huts today. Bere Island in County Cork is an idyllic spot famous for dolphin and whale watching, while Rathlin Island's nature reserve in Antrim has the added novelty of being surrounded by more than 40 shipwrecks.
We have lake islands too. Disembark on White Island in Lower Lough Erne to explore the ruins of the 12th century church and eight carved stone figures in the walls.
Whether you're after clear white sand beaches or rugged mountains filled with sea birds, Ireland's islands have pretty much got it covered… and there's not a crowd in sight.