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Clare Island Loop Walks

Clare Island lies 4 miles off the west coast of Ireland at the entrance to Clew Bay .  The largest of the Mayo offshore islands, it has a varied terrain: spectacular cliffs with large numbers of nestling sea birds and a rich ‘inland’ topography of hills and bogs and small pockets of woodland, making it ideal for hill walking.

The islands complex history can be read through its landscape:  from archaeological remains of the Neolithic and Bronze age, to rare medieval wall-paintings in the 14th century Cistercian Abbey (well known for its rare medieval roof paintings, to the ‘pirate queen’ Grace O’Malley’s (Grainneuaile) castle and burial place.  The islands population is now 130, yet everywhere there are traces of past generations, most significantly the 19th century population of 1600 was reduced by half.  Old potato ridges or ‘lazy beds’ are everywhere: the evening sun reveals them jutting out from the land like the rib cages of some dying beast.

The ferry crossing takes approximately 20 minutes and is quiet regular.  Details relating to ferry times can be obtained by contacting the Clare Island Community Development Office, Telephone (098) 26525.

Directions to Clare Island

Clare Island is accessed by passenger ferries from Roonagh Pier.  From Westport take the coast road to Louisburgh (13km), and drive straight through the small town.  About 1 km after the town, take a right turn to Roonagh – the pier is a further 6km.


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Clare Island Loop Walk