The least-visited of the islands, with the smallest population, Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) is a rocky respite, roughly 5km long by 3km wide. Early Christian monks seeking solitude were drawn to Inishmaan, as was the author JM Synge, who spent five summers here over a century ago. The island they knew largely survives today: stoic cows and placid sheep, impressive old forts, and warm-hearted locals, who speak Irish to each other exclusively.
Inishmaan's scenery is breathtaking, with a jagged coastline of startling cliffs, empty beaches and fields criss-crossed by a latticework of stone walls. Most buildings spread out along the road that runs east–west across the centre. You can easily walk to any place on the island, enjoying the stark scenery and sweeping views on the way. Inishmaan's down-to-earth islanders are largely unconcerned with the prospect of attracting the tourist dollar, so facilities are scarce.