Clare Island

Clare Island

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Clare Island

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Clare Island (Oileán Chliara in Irish) 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 125 people live there today.

Southwest of Clare lies 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 Gráinne O'Malley's castle because of its most famous resident, are close to the pier at the eastern edge of the island. The small Cistercian 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 1<sup>st</sup> 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. The cylindrical masonry lighthouse tower is 118 metres (387&nbsp;ft) tall and 11 metres (36&nbsp;ft) across. After 159 years of faithful service the lighthouse was taken out of service on 28 September 1965,...
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