Ireland, Natural Environment

Ireland | A Day On Clare Island

Clare Island is 6 km off the west coast of Co. Mayo. Once the home of Gráinne Mhaol, the island boasts a rich cultural heritage that the islanders are extremely proud of. Whether you’re the adventurous type or want to switch off from it all, Clare Island has something for everyone.

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My Day On Clare Island

I was looking forward to visiting the island as it was on my wanderlust list. Visiting Clare Island with my mother was a chance for us to spend some quality time together before leaving for Canada. We took the ferry over, which was an experience in and of itself. I felt quite dizzy crossing over and felt sick on the way back. It was like having constant butterflies with your head spinning. Thankfully I recovered quickly. I’m definitely a landlubber.

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Arriving on the island was magical. The first sight you see from the harbour is Gráinne Mhaol’s Castle. Gráinne Mhaol was chieftain of the Ó Máille clann during the 16th century. She was well-educated and was thought of by contemporaries as being exceptionally formidable and competent. Her castle is a fine example of a tower house.

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The history nerd in me just couldn’t wait to have a closer look and explore. I tried to imagine what it must have been like back then. While walking around the island what struck me was the quietness. All you could hear were the birds singing, the sheep bleating and the sound of the ocean. There wasn’t even a gift shop in sight.

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If I’m completely honest I was fully expecting the island to be thronged with visitors and tourists. But I was pleasantly surprised and delighted that it wasn’t a tourist trap. Apart from the few modern houses dotted around the rolling landscape and the telephone and electricity poles, the island is practically unspoiled. It’s like stepping back in time. The locals were so friendly, giving us a wave and a hello as we passed.

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After browsing through the heritage centre and taking a leisurely stroll to the 12th-century abbey, we were feeling peckish. 40 minutes later and we were entering the Sailor’s Bar and Restaurant. I tried the falafel burger with homemade chips (they left the potato skins on, yum!) and my mother had good old fish and chips. The service was second to none and the view of the ocean from our table was stunning.

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We had an hour kill before taking the boat back, so we decided to head to the beach. There we just sat and chatted about the day we had. The beach was empty and the air smelled of salt. Looking out to sea the boats were bobbing in the waves waiting to set sail and the seagulls were screeching overhead.

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How To Get There

There are many ferries to choose from to get you to the island. My recommendation would be O’ Malley Ferries. You can take the ferry from Roonagh Pier, which is 7.3 km outside of the village of Louisburgh. Tickets can be bought at their offices on the pier but if you book through their website you get a 10% discount. The crossing only takes 10 minutes. They claim it to be the fastest crossing.

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What To See

  • The Church of The Sacred Heart
  • Archaeological Sites
  • Flora & Fauna
  • The Abbey
  • The Beach
  • The Castle
  • The Lighthouse
  • The Napoleonic Tower
  • The Sea Cliffs

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What To Do

  • Angling and Boat Trips
  • Craft Workshops
  • Adventure Activities
  • Horse Riding
  • Heritage Centre
  • Walking and Hiking
  • Yoga

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Where To Eat

  • Sailor’s Bar and Restaurant
  • Clare Island Community Centre

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I didn’t get a chance to explore the whole island. To walk the full loop of the island takes about 19 km. I would recommend a weekend on the island to experience everything it has to offer. And there is plenty of accommodation to choose from. Have you ever been to Clare Island? Let me know what you think of the island.

Marteen Lane (4)

Clare Island is 6 km off the west coast of Co. Mayo. Once the home of Gráinne Mhaol, the island boasts a rich cultural heritage that the islanders are extremely proud of. Whether you're the adventurous type or want to switch off from it all, Clare Island has something for everyone.

36 thoughts on “Ireland | A Day On Clare Island”

      1. Thanks, Marteen! Yes, it’s true! I’m sure it will be extraordinary. I mean, life in Hawaii is pretty grand, but hot most of the time. I think I’m really going to enjoy all that green and ocean with cool air 😀 And the history, which is pretty amazing. Aloha!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Simple, straight to the point and an easy read. I was hoping to visit Ireland this year but something always gets in the way. This post has pushed me once again to look into flights to Ireland.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rano 😊 Check out the rest of my From Ireland With Love series for inspiration on where to visit in Ireland. I hope you make it over for a visit soon 😊

      Like

  2. I’ve never heard of Clare Island but it looks fantastic! It’s great that it wasn’t overrun with tourists and gift shops. The scenery looks gorgeous and the history sounds interesting–I’d love to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of Clare island before, so I had to google its location- seems like a perfect spot to explore Ireland as it once was, without the crowds. I love that custom of saying hello to strangers you meet along the way in smaller communities- whenever we’d go skiing in the Austrian Alps, kids from the village would always greet us, like they would greet someone they know! 🙂 I would love to stay for a weekend and do these 19 km by bike!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so sweet of the kids to greet you like they know you. I always find smaller communities are so much friendlier 😊

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  4. I have heard about Clare Island and I really wanted to visit. 19km might take me a couple of days, but I think it would be an amazing trip around. island life seems really fun and there’s lots to do. Thanks for a really detailed post, I will use this when I head to Ct Mayo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s really cool that you’ve heard about it because it wouldn’t be as well known as the Aran Islands or some of the other islands of the coast of Ireland. You’re very welcome 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you could hear the gulls, water and wind on the island. It kind of sets the scene. I would love to know more about the woman who lived in the castle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was wonderful to visit a place where you could hear the sounds of nature. Oh I plan on writing a post sometime soon on Gráinne Mhaol ☺

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  6. It’s great to hear that it wasn’t a tourist trap 🙂 Sorry to hear your journey there you got a little dizzy (seasick?), but it seemed like it was worth the trip. And how fun that you got to spend this quality time with your mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There is something truly magical about listening to the cry of gulls echoing over crashing waves and the sound of wind. Love you got to experience that. The island sounds fantastic … completely my cup of tea! Must visit now and your tips will come in extremely useful. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ireland is on my travel list for next year, and this looks like a delightful place to visit! I love places that are off the beaten track, and Clare island seems to fit the bill. Thanks for writing about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh how exciting! I hope you’ll have a wonderful time here. Clare Island is a great place if you want to get away from it all 😊

      Like

  9. Mmmm that falafal burger looks delish! I love that a place as classic and timeless as Clare Island is on the ball with fresh veggie option 🙂 Your pictures are lovely and have really left me feeling nostalgic for Ireland. Like you said, there are so many unspoilt places to explore in Ireland, and this certainly looks like one of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was delicious Erica 😊 Indeed it’s important to give visitors options that way they’ll return and recommend the place to friends and family. Awww, hopefully you’ll return soon 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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