Clew Bay is said to have 365 islands, one for every day of the year. The biggest and most interesting to visit is Clare Island, at the mouth of the bay. In fine weather the rocky, hilly island, which is 8 km (5 miles) long and 5 km (3 miles) wide, affords beautiful views south toward Connemara, east across Clew Bay, and north to Achill Island. About 150 people live on the island today, but before the 1845–47 famine it had a population of about 1,700. A 15th-century tower
overlooking the harbor was once the stronghold of Granuaile, the pirate queen, who ruled the area until her death in 1603. She is buried on the island, in its 12th-century Cistercian abbey. Today most visitors seek out the island for its unusual peace and quiet, golden beaches, and unspoiled landscape. A walking festival in mid-June had proved very popular. Ferries depart from Roonagh Pier, near Louisburgh, a scenic 19-km (12-mile) drive from Westport on R335 past several long sandy beaches. The crossing takes about 15 minutes. Dolphins often accompany the boats on the trip, and there are large populations of seals under the island's cliffs.
Clare Island Development Office. Bird-watchers, hikers, cyclists, and sea anglers may want to stay for longer than a day trip; inquire at the Westport TIO or call the Clare Island Development Office or go to www.clareisland.info for information about accommodations and activities on the island. 098/25412.
Clew Bay, Ireland
098-25045-O'Malley's Ferries; 098-25212-Pirate Queen boat