My O’Malley cousins and family might enjoy some photos we took when we visited County Mayo in 2006. We spent a week on a guided tour through the Irish Free State and visited all the typical tourist sites. Then we spent five days in Westport, which that year won the title of Ireland’s “Tidiest City”. It is near the center of County Mayo and one of the two largest cities in County Mayo. While there we visited several sites associated with the history of the O’Malley clan and of the famous Irish Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley—also known as “Grainuaile”.
We visited two of the Tower Houses that Grace reportedly used for her seafaring operations, Rockfleet Castle and Clare Island Castle. Rockfleet sits on an inlet to the North Sea just to the northwest of Newport in County Mayo; while Clare Island is located about 20 miles west of Westport at the entrance to Clew Bay. We took about a 20 minute ferry ride on The O’Malley Ferry. There was a competitor ferry company; but we obviously had to take the O’Malley ferry. It was from these sites that Grace and her fellow pirates patrolled the west coast of Ireland. She didn’t view herself as a Pirate, only a good citizen protecting the territorial sea rights of her county.
Clare Island Castle
On Clare Island was located an Abbey with a surrounding cemetery. In walking through the cemetery it was obvious that a lot of O’Malley’s lived there, as an estimated two-thirds of the headstones belonged to O’Malley’s. Inside of the Abbey I was delighted to find the O’Malley Family Crest imprinted into the wall near the alter. Enroute to the abbey we passed the main and only B&B on the Island. You guessed it—the “Grainuaile House B&B” named after Grace O'Malley.
Grainuaile House B&B
Clare Island Abbey
While in Westport, we stayed in a lovely B&B that was within walking distance of the center of town. The first night there we found a great Pub by the name of O’Malley’s—what else did you expect! Irelands national rugby matches were in process while we were there so that was on every TV in every Pub in town.
The food and ambiance were so good we ate there two of the five nights we were in Westport. They had music in the evenings which was advertised to start at 9 p.m. We learned the Irish aren’t too big on being prompt. The musicians started arriving about 9 p.m.; but by the time they tuned up and started, it was 9:45 p.m. We told our hosts at the B&B that we loved the music; but the hours were a little late for our schedule. She suggested we try a pub near the quay on Sunday, when they start at 3:30 p.m. That was more to our liking.