The castle on Clare Island

The castle on Clare Island

At the mouth of Clew Bay and facing the Atlantic Ocean is the mountainous Clare Island ….. well worth a look on any Ireland tours !!!

In the past it was a stronghold of the O’Malley clan. Popular tradition associates it with the pirate queen “Grace O,Malley”. She was also connected to Augnanure castle. She had a small fleet of very swift ships and raided along the West coast of Ireland and even Scotland !

Grace avoided taking sides in the wars of the time and suffered little interuption to her pirating apart from short spells in prison. It is even said that she gave birth to her son aboard one of her ships while on a raiding expedition.

To stop English attacks on her Mayo strongholds Grace sailed up to London in 1593 and had an interview with Queen Elizabeth the first.

Legend has it that having used her hankerchief Grace threw it in the fire. When the Queen asked why Grace told her that Irish ladies were much too sophisticated to return such an item to their pocket after using it !! A bit rich coming from a pirate queen !!!

The ruins of their castle overlook the harbour and it was built in the early 16th century. Later it was modernized in 1831 to be used as a coastguard station.

It is a true hidden gem with a great history for your tours of Ireland.