Uncork the Color

Celebrating a Creative, Joy-filled Life

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

A Grace O’Malley Day!

What a full day Day 5 turned out to be, but so amazing!  We started with a drive through the scenic Maam Valley and the village of Leenane with views of Killary Fjord on our way north to Westport, Co. Mayo.  Though the drive was overcast with a small sprinkle of rain here and there, it was filled with gorgeous views!  Here are some of them:

The sun was starting to shine as we arrived in Westport at Wesport House.  Westport House is a Manor House built between 1679-1683 by Maude Burke and her husband Colonel John Browne.  Maude was the great-great granddaughter of Grace O’Malley (more about her in a bit).  The original house was built on the foundations of one of Grace O’Malley’s castles and was added to over the years.  It is still owned by the Browne family, but is open to the public for tours of the house, camping on the grounds, and even a Pirate-themed adventure park.

Here’s a slideshow of Westport House and grounds:

Next we ventured on to an inlet of Clew Bay to Rockfleet Castle which was the main home of Grace O’Malley (c. 1530-1603) in the later years of her life.  Grace (also known as Granuaile) was a force to be reckoned with.  She took over leadership of the O’Malley clan after the death of her father commanding a fleet of ships with over 200 men.  She controlled trade routes on the west of Ireland, conducted trading expeditions to Spain, was often hired to transport mercenaries from Scotland, and amassed 1,000 head of cattle and horses.  She was labeled by the English as a “nurse to all rebellions in the province for this forty years” and negotiated face-to-face with Queen Elizabeth I for the release of her son and half-brother who were taken captive by English forces.   All of this earned Grace the title of “Pirate Queen”.

While her castle was closed for repairs/restoration, it was still amazing to me to be standing on the same ground where Grace walked so many years ago – to think of all that had taken place on that ground and inside those walls.

Next we traveled back to Westport and drove around Clew Bay where it is said that there is an island for every day of the year.

We cruised on through the Doolough Valley where several hundred people lost their lives due to starvation and exposure during the Famine.  The mountains there were imposing and incredible, and the area held a real sense of solemnity.

After a brief stop in the Doolough Valley, we continued on through the Delphi Valley and back to Killary Fjord where the tide had returned.  So beautiful!

Check back for Day 6 where we drive the roller-coaster route of Sky Road and visit the stunningly peaceful Kylemore Abbey!

God’s Blessings & Joy Be To You,

PS – Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you might have about our trip!

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