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Árainn Mhór

Traditional housing on Arranmore.
Traditional housing on Arranmore.
Árainn Mhór is located in Ireland
Árainn Mhór
Árainn Mhór
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°59′22″N 8°31′51″W / 54.98953°N 8.53089°W / 54.98953; -8.53089Coordinates: 54°59′22″N 8°31′51″W / 54.98953°N 8.53089°W / 54.98953; -8.53089
CountyCounty Donegal
 • Dáil ÉireannDonegal
 • Total22 km2 (8 sq mi)
 • Total529
 • Density24/km2 (62/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid ReferenceB665155
Árainn Mhór is the only official name. The anglicised spelling 'Arranmore' has no official status.

Árainn Mhór (English name: Arranmore)[1][2] is an island off the west coast of County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. Arranmore is the largest inhabited island of County Donegal, with a population of 514 in 2011, down from 528 in 2006, 543 in 2002, and over 600 in 1996. The island is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht, with most of the inhabitants speaking Ulster Irish.

It is also known in English as Arran Island (not to be confused with the Aran Islands off Galway Bay or the Scottish Isle of Arran). In Irish the island was traditionally called Árainn; the adjective mór (large) was added fairly recently. It was also sometimes called in Irish Árainn Uí Dhomhnaill, meaning the 'Aran of the O'Donnells'.

Appeal to foreigners[edit]

In 2019, islanders wrote open letters to the United States and Australia, asking people to consider moving to the island.They encouraged both populations to come to the less crowded island and enjoy "time for living."[3]

Irish language[edit]

There are 469 people living on Arranmore and 62% are native Irish speakers.[4] During the summer, students of all ages, from all over Ireland travel to the island for a 3-week holiday. It is a very popular way of meeting new people and also learning the Irish language. Students attend school during the day and play games and ceilí dance in the evenings. They are taught about the Irish language through Irish. Irish must be spoken at all times over the 3 week period. The college on Arranmore is known as Coláiste Árainn Mhóir, meaning the 'College of Arranmore'.


Arranmore Lighthouse.

The island lies 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) off Burtonport, a small coastal village in The Rosses. The island is served by two ferry services which operate between Arranmore and Burtonport on the mainland. The two operators make use of vessels previously built for the Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, allowing both to carry passengers, cars and heavy goods vehicles.[3]



Most of the population lives along the southern and (comparatively sheltered) eastern coast, where the main village, Leabgarrow (Irish: Leadhb Gharbh), is located. The island has been settled since 'pre-Celtic times', and the few remaining signs of early settlement include a promontory fort to the south of the island and shell middens dotted along the beaches. Its position near the Atlantic shipping lanes was exploited, with a coastguard station and a lighthouse positioned on the most north-westerly point, and a World War 2 monitoring post.[citation needed]

The permanent population is 469,[3] but this rises to well over 1,000 during the summer months. A large proportion of the housing stock are holiday homes, with both native islanders and their descendants, as well as non locals. Due to the long decline in population, in 2019, the local government began trying to entice Americans and Australians to move to the island.[4][5]

Historical population
Source: Central Statistics Office. "CNA17: Population by Off Shore Island, Sex and Year". Retrieved 12 October 2016.

Infrastructure and economy[edit]

View of Donegal mainland from Arranmore.

The island was the first offshore island in Ireland to get electricity from the Rural Electrification Scheme, run by the E.S.B., in 1957, but was amongst the last places in the country to get universally reliable piped water (in 1973-75) and an automatic phone exchange (in 1986). It went directly from a manual switchboard to an ISDN-enabled system, which had to be upgraded within weeks due to massive demand for consumer phone lines, as the previous exchange had been limited to issuing numbers to business ventures only, and only had 47 internal lines.

It relies mostly on tourism for its income (fishing was the island's mainstay up to the 1980s but is no longer a significant industry), as well as the traditional Gaeltacht summer schools. In recent years, a local development co-op has encouraged the development of other industries on the island, such as a call centre and teacher training for Irish teachers. The island's many lakes provide rod fishing opportunities.

A sculpture at Lough Thoir.

Arranmore transmitter[edit]

The Arranmore Island transmitter is a relay station used by 2RN and Highland Radio to provide coverage to the island and much of The Rosses which are shielded by mountains from the main transmissions. Two towers exist, the smaller of which belongs to Highland Radio, and the significantly larger to 2RN. The EIRP of the stations transmitted by 2RN is amongst the highest of any relay station. The site is 125 metres (410 feet) above sea level, with the 2RN antenna standing at 45 metres (148 feet).

A 1 kW transmitter, on 104.0 MHz, has been proposed for the i102-104FM radio station which launched in February 2008. Both O2 Ireland and Vodafone Ireland have transmission stations on the 2RN mast.

UHF 45 is allocated to but unused by TV3. 41, 44, 47 and 51 are allocated for Digital terrestrial television.


Main coastal road to Aphort.

The island is twinned with Beaver Island, an island in northern Lake Michigan where a large number of former residents gathered after being evicted from Arranmore in the mid-1800s. There are still today a number of families on Beaver Island that trace their roots to Arranmore.[6]

The Arranmore RNLI Station, with its Severn-class lifeboat, is amongst the best equipped in the county.

Places and villages on Arranmore Island[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Placenames (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) Order 2004
  2. ^ As to the meaning of the name, see Deirdre and Laurence Flanagan, Irish Place Names, Gill & Macmillan, 2002.
  3. ^ a b c CNN, Emily Dixon (14 June 2019). "Irish island asks Americans to move there". CNN Travel. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b Brent, Harry (11 June 2019). "Irish island of Arranmore is looking for new residents from the United States". Irish Post. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  5. ^ Dixon, Emily (14 June 2019). "Irish island of Arranmore asks Americans to move there". CNN. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  6. ^

External links[edit]