Island Life“You’re ten minutes from something breathtaking at all times.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Scones with secret ingredients, goat-burping and a whole lot of ham and cheese sandwiches . Yes, The Ryan Tubridy Show Wild Atlantic Way Tour has hit the Aran Islands. And on Inis Mór, among the (many) people Ryan spoke to this morning, was journalist Megan Roantree, herself a native of the island, now resident in Dublin, where she works for Stellar magazine. Megan grew up on Inis Mór, but neither of her parents is from there.

“We’re a family of blow-ins really, because my mam is a Dub and my dad was from Oxford. So, they met on a night in Galway and, because he was the captain of the ferry here, it eventually made more sense for them to move in here.”

For her parents, it must have been love at first sight, as Megan told Ryan that her mother was in Galway for a night, met her Dad and ended up sticking around. “What is in the air in the west of Ireland?” Ryan wondered.

Megan lived on Inis Mór until she went to college in the Big Smoke at 18. She has cousins in Dublin, so moving there wasn’t as traumatic as it might otherwise have been for a teenager from the Aran Islands. But the culture shock was there all the same when it came to studying in DCU compared to growing up on Inis Mór:

“We had, like, a big shopping centre where you could get whatever you wanted and that was a real novelty for me because here, you know, we have our wooly jumper shops, our craft shops and one small supermarket.”

Ryan asked Megan to list some of the best things about being a child on Inis Mór. She started with the beauty that’s everywhere on and around the island.

“The fact that we’ve wild flowers all over, we’ve cliff views, our back garden is, you know, stunning. And you’re kind of ten minutes from something breathtaking at all times. That is something that I will always appreciate.”

She also cited the sense of community on the island – something she says you don’t necessarily get everywhere – which means that everyone knows each other and support is always there for you. There’s a freedom and a safety, especially when you’re a child, that might not be there in an urban setting.

Education was also very different on the island: smaller classes, for starters. There were only about 60 pupils in total in the whole school. And that meant that pupils mixed far more than they would in a bigger school and, according to Megan, age was less of an issue than it might have been elsewhere.

And then there’s the Gaeilge:

“I find myself still muttering away in Irish. Like in work, the girls are always laughing at me. They’re like, ‘will you stop speaking Irish’ and I’m like, ‘no, I absolutely will not’.”

(Megan had to explain what a Pop-Up Gaeltacht is to Ryan. Ní théann dada amú air!)

You can hear Ryan’s full interview with Megan, as well as the rest of the team’s Inis Mór escapades on The Ryan Tubridy Show here:


© The Listener 2019

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