Natural Features of Inis Mór Island
Inis Mor Island is essentially an extension of the Burren. The terrain of the island is composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as “grikes”, leaving isolated rocks called “clints”. The limestones date from the Visean period (Lower Carboniferous), formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago, and compressed into horizontal strata with fossil corals, crinoids, sea urchins and ammonites. Glaciation following the Namurian phase facilitated greater denudation. The result is that Inishmore and the other islands are among the finest examples of Glacio-Karst landscape in the world.
The effects of the last glacial period (the Midlandian) are most in evidence, with the island overrun by ice during this glaciation. The impact of earlier Karstification (solutional erosion) has been eliminated by the last glacial period. So any Karstification now seen dates from approximately 10,000 years ago and the island Karst is thus recent.
Solutional processes have widened and deepened the grikes of the limestone pavement. Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of sub-terrainean drainage
Beaches on Inis Mor
The three islands are noted for their sandy sheltered beaches and interesting shorelines. On Inis Mór there is a blue flag beach at Cill Mhuirbhigh which is safe for swimming(cf. Map). In Inis Oírr there is an idylic cove at the main landing pier known as An Trá Mór( The big beach). In Inis Meáin there are numerous sandy coves. There are also storm and block beaches throughout the islands evidence of the power of the Atlantic.
Cliffs on Inis Mor
Stretching the entire western side of Inis Mor Island with views of the Cliffs of Moher, are dramatic and beautiful cliffs with spectacular views. This 8km stretch is known as the Cliffs of Aran and there is infact a trail which takes you from the bottom to the top of the island and takes 2-4 hours to complete. The most frequented area of cliffs by visitors to the island is the fort of Dun Aonghasa. If you venture north, or south for that matter, you are likely to see longer and higher stretches of cliffs with meandering views. You also can very easily find isolation and tranquility.
Flora & Fauna
The close proximity of the Gulf Stream makes for a mild and pleasant climate and also encourages a unique mixture of all year round Alpine and Mediterranean flora. In spring and early summer countless tiny stone walled chemical free fields exude the powerful intoxicating aroma of brightly coloured wild flowers. Many unusual wild birds live on or visit the Island. The sea surrounding the Island is still startlingly clean and all the beautiful Island beaches are safe and usually uncrowded. The Island is low lying and attracts little rain while enjoying a great deal of sunshine.
The Hudsonian Goodwit
Kilmurvey Blue Flag Beach
Kilmurvey is a beautiful white sand sheltered beach just off the road between Kilronan and Dun Aengus. The beach is situated in a cove and as such is not subject to the same strong currents that some of the beaches on Inis Mor are. On a sunny day the water is crystal clear and very inviting and invigorating!
The islands strike one immediately as being like a desert of rock. They are in fact a continuation of the ‘boireann’ (burren) limestone rock in Co Clare to which they were once joined millions of years ago. Owing to the limestone landscape the islands enjoy a rare flora and fauna and are a haven for botanists. From May time onwards the visitor can enjoy a tremendous profusion of colour which marks an attractive contrast to the grey limestone rock. The warmth of the Bloody Crane’s- Bill( Crobh Dhearg) or Spring Gentian( Ceadharlach Bealtaine) in bloom are just two such examples among many. Some flowers such as Purple Milk Vetch( ) are uniquely found in Inis Mór and Inis Meáin and are not found elsewhere in Ireland.
The Puffing Holes