I believe that most people on the Aran Islands make ends meet through tourism in one form or another. However, that was not always the case.
Go back a century and these islands were basically three large rocks off the coast of Galway. Using sledgehammers men break the fractured rock to get to the soil in the crevices. Scooping this soil out they would mix it with sand and the seaweed women could collect from the shoreline. This would be laid on top of the rocks to serve as fertile soil to grow potatoes and other vegetables. The meals would be rounded out by whatever they could catch from the ocean.
There are a number of areas on the islands that give one an idea as to what they may have dealt with long ago, and this image shows one of those areas, contained within one of the ubiquitous stone fences, and modern (non-thatched) houses in the background.
More about this unique place can be read (free) in John Millington Synge’s The Aran Islands at http://en.wikisource.org/ or read it the Kindle.