Alternative New Year’s Eve: Aran Islands

Man it up on Inis Meáin this December 31st

How does winter on a tiny island in the north Atlantic sound to you? Cold and wet no doubt. Not necessarily. Inis Meáin has a very temperate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 15 degrees in July to 6 degrees in January.

On our trips in winter we have frequently been blessed with fine, dry weather. It may not be that warm but that’s what hats and scarves are for. Even if it is windy and wet, you can always resign yourself to a day indoors beside a big turf fire or spend your time with Paraic and Meg, proprietors of the local pub, Teach Ósta Inis Meáin.

No trip to the island is complete without a few swims in the Atlantic Ocean. There is nothing more refreshing on earth than swimming in Irish waters in the winter and Inis Meáin is the best place to do it.

In terms of local custom, some islanders still practice one old tradition this time of year. “The one tradition that we have here on New Year’s Day is that the young boys (5 to 13 years old) go around early in the morning to visit all the houses, usually on invite,” says Ruairí de Blacam of Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites. “They receive money and bread or cake as reward for their early start!


“The superstition is that it is unlucky to have a female enter the house first at the start of a new year. Probably not very PC but there you go!”

STAY: There are many accommodation options on the island but opening times vary, particularly in the winter.

In the past we have stayed in the wonderful self-catering Teach Philomena but this house is not always available in winter. Prices also vary with some self-catering houses only available per week at about €300-€350. Other options, such as An Dún B&B, charge about €40 per person per night in the low season.

For a comprehensive list of accommodation options go to: