Clare Island, County Mayo

#8 of 14 in Nature in County Mayo
Clare Island is a mountainous island guarding the entrance to Clew Bay in County Mayo, Ireland. It is famous as the home of the pirate queen Gráinne O'Malley. Approximately 145 people live there today.
Southwest of Clare Island lie the uninhabited Caher Island and the inhabited Inishturk.
Through the Middle Ages, Clare Island was part of the lands of the O' Malley family. The ruins of an O'Malley tower-house, known as Granuaile's Castle because of its most famous resident, are close to the pier at the eastern edge of the island. Clare Island Abbey near the south coast of the island was founded by the O'Malleys and contains the O'Malley Tomb, a possible burial site of Gráinne O'Malley. The Abbey is known for its rare medieval roof paintings. In 1588 a ship from the Spanish Armada was wrecked on Clare Island and its men were killed by the O'Malleys.
A very prominent landmark of the island is the Clare Island Lighthouse, established by John Denis Browne, the 1st Marquess of Sligo, in 1806. On 29 September 1813 a fire, caused by careless disposal of the oil-lamp wicks, destroyed part of the tower and the lantern. The rebuilt light was ready in 1818. In 1834 the tower was struck by lightning. After 159 years of faithful service the lighthouse was taken out of service on 28 September 1965, replaced by the modern Achillbeg Island lighthouse on the south side of Achill Island.
To visit Clare Island and other attractions in County Mayo, use our County Mayo online day trip planner .
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Clare Island Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
34 reviews
  • Lovely island, people are very friendly, Lovely castle and church. Key to church in shop. Small shop with very short opening hours. Nice place for walking. Place for tents, shower available. Lovely re...  more »
  • Needing to recharge the batteries we decided to head west for some relaxation and typical Irish hospitality. 07:30 train from Dublin Heuston, we arrived in Westport at 11:00 From there a 25 min taxi t...  more »
  • Spent day on the usland, walked to signal tower and one of the loop walks. Ended the day with food and a few pints in the sailors bar. Great day, great food....very enjoyable.
  • Wonderful peaceful island, friendly people, magnificent cliff and mountain scenery.
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Popular things to do in Clare Island

Duration: 30​min
Duration: 30​min