My wife and I went to the Aran Islands in 2006. We walked along the paths between the stone walls, westward to the ocean. We stood on the farthest point west, not quite the westernmost part of Ireland, but close to it; across the water was Newfoundland.
I've never seen
another place like it. The stone walls that cross the Island were often
all that kept in the gigantic horses. We saw a man walk along a path
like the one we were on. He came to a wall that enclosed a horse and
started pulling stones from the wall. He unmade it until there was a gap
large enough for the horse to exit--it took a while. He lead the horse
out and then built the wall again. He took the horse by the reins and
walked back up the hill.
The island was covered with limestone, which looks very much like slate. (From Discover Mayo: The Aran Islands are one of the finest examples of a Glacio-Karst
landscape in the world and it is characterised by slabs of limestone,
called clints, separated by deep cracks called grykes, giving a
chocolate-bar structure to the landscape.) The whole place was grey and black. We
found a small shop, an inn, a dock. To be on the Aran Islands feels like
being on the edge of the world, after a nuclear winter. I loved it, the
way it looked. J. M. Synge writes of Inis Mor (which he calls
Aranmor), "...I was wandering out along the one good roadway of the
island, looking over low walls on either side into small flat fields of
naked rock. I have seen nothing so desolate. Grey floods of water were
sweeping everywhere upon the limestone, making at times a wild torrent
of the road, which twined continually over low hills and cavities in the
rock or passed away in corners that had shelter."
The Aran Islands is well worth reading. In it, he describes his travels
there, and the people he met, and the stories they told him. While
walking with an old man named Mourteen, they sought an old
beehive-shaped dwelling. Finding one, they crawled inside. Mourteen "sat
down in the middle of the floor and began to recite old Irish poetry,
with an exquisite purity of intonation that brought tears to my eyes
though I understood but little of the meaning.
"On our way home he gave me the Catholic theory of the fairies.
Lucifer saw himself in the glass he thought himself equal with God.
Then the Lord threw him out of Heaven, and all the angels that belonged
to him. While He was 'chucking them out,' an archangel asked Him to
spare some of them, and those that were falling are in the air still,
and have power to wreck ships, and to work evil in the world."
Fairies as fallen angels. There you go.