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Photography : Frank Cawley Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

By Frank Cawley
12, Aug 2005 - 15:20

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Granuaile O'Malley (Or Grace O'Malley, or Gráinne Ni Mhaille or Gráinne Uaile) is among the most illustrious of O'Malley ancestors. She was a "Sea Queen" and pirate in the 16th century.  These are some recent shots taken on Clare Island her strong hold, and Rockfleet Castle in Newport.

This is the inside of the old church on Clare Island, the pews have long since gone, Grace O'Malley often said her prayers here before heading off to battle on the high seas

The O'Malley coat of arms, very hard to see the details here, but they consist of a wild boar that appears to be three times the size of a horse.

One of the side pews in the old church.

The church itself is covered in medieval paintings of men chasing wild dear, its no match for teh inch perfect mural in the Castle Inn but it's not bad for a mural thats older than Castlebar itself.

An old thatched cottage.

These pictures were taken during the last week of July in 2005, while everyone was up losing money at the Galway Races the builders were busy on Clare Island trying to finish the new pier before the forthcoming winter storms.

The British started to infiltrate Mayo during the middle of the 16th Century, in 1566 Grainne Uaile decided to Marry Richard-in-Iron Bourke, whose castle, Rockfleet, is less exposed than Clare Island. When she has moved her ships and army into Richards castle she divorces him. Almost the same thing happened a friend of mine in Donegal, and we are supposed to be civilised! This is the legendary Rockfleet Castle.

This is the fireplace inside Rockfleet Castle, I'd imagine there was plenty to talk about when they gathered around the embers at the same hearth almost 500 years ago.

These are the stairs that Richard-In-Iron Bourke climbed the night he married Grainne Uaile, a brave man indeed. There are still many decendants of the Bourke clan left in Castlebar and I know one or two of them that would climb the same stairs backwards in the pitch darkness for the love of a warrior princess....

In 1603 Grace dies at Rockfleet. Not sure where she's buried, but she certainly was a legend.

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Frank Cawley
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