HISTORY OF CLARE ISLAND
Clare Island’s Pirate Queen
The ruin of a Tower House dominates the harbour at the eastern edge of the island, reminding visitors of the long reign of the O’Malley Clan as rulers of the island and environs. The most famous occupant of the tower was Grace O’Malley or Grainuaile, Clare Island’s illustrious ‘pirate queen’ who was a 16th century contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I of England. In her book Granuaile: Grace O’Malley – Ireland’s Pirate Queen (March 2009), Anne Chambers describes her as ‘A fearless leader by land and by sea, political pragmatist and tactician, rebel, pirate and matriarch’, the ’most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’. ‘Grace O’Malley challenges and manipulates the turbulent politics of the 16th century.’ A woman not to be trifled with by all accounts!