Clare Island Abbey

Top choice in County Mayo

The chancel roof of 13th-century Clare Island Abbey is dotted with faded fragments of murals, dating from around 1500. Look out too for the tomb reputed to be that of Grace O'Malley, where a stone inscribed with her family motto formidably declares: 'Invincible on land and sea'. The abbey is in the south of the island; it's often locked – get the key from O'Malley's Post Office (how fitting), some 30m away.

Displays help you decipher the mural fragments. Once your eyes adjust to the light, you'll make out sections of hunting and fishing scenes, as well as wrestlers, a harpist and a pelican.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby County Mayo attractions

1. Knockmore

1.63 MILES

A hike up 462m Knockmore in the northwest of the island rewards with superb views over Clare Island's sheep-dotted moorlands to the mainland beyond.

2. Granuaile's Castle

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Associated with the pirate queen Grace O'Malley, this compact castle tower was her stronghold, although it was altered considerably when the coastguard…

3. Grace O'Malley's Castle

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The 40ft-high, 15th-century tower house rising beside the shore at Kildownet is associated with the pirate queen Grace O'Malley. Entering through a steel…

4. Kildownet Church and Cemetery


These ruins probably date to the 17th century, but an earlier church dating to the 16th century also existed here, perhaps built by Grace O'Malley who…

5. Carrowmore

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The sheltered, broad beach at Carrowmore, just west of Louisburgh village, offers good views of Croagh Patrick and has a lifeguard on duty in summer.

7. Old Head

9.05 MILES

Head east from Louisburgh for a couple of kilometres and look out for the turning north to the pleasant and secluded beach at Old Head.