19 Jul Clare Island, County Mayo
Clare Island, set in Clew Bay, is dominated by two hills, and a square 15th century castle commands the headland and harbour. In the 16th century the island was the stronghold of Grace O’Malley, pirate queen and patriot, who held sway over the western coast. Although, according to Tudor stat papers, she was received at Queen Elizabeth I’s court, she stood out against English rule until her death in her seventies in 1603. She is buried here in a tiny Cistercian abbey decorated with medieval murals and inscribed with her motto: “Invincible on land and sea”.
The island is dotted with Iron Age huts and field systems as well as promontory forts and Bronze Age cooking sites. Clare is rich in bog flora and fauna, making it popular with walkers. Animal lovers come to see the seals, dolphins, falcons and otters.
Clare Island is a must-see attraction on your tours of Ireland.