Clew Bay – Shhhhhhhhhhhh , its a secret!

Imagine an archipelago with 365 islands to explore – one for each day of the year. To be ideal you would need several sheltered sounds with deep enough water to anchor at spring tides. Picture it surrounded by wonderfully picturesque mountains, and protected offshore by several bigger islands providing protection from the Atlantic swell, all of them stuffed full of history so that there is plenty to do when you visit there on calmer days. Best of all it would be practically deserted; just you, the anchorage and the wild life.

From ClewBay and the islands

Fantasy ? No – its Clew Bay , County Mayo on the wonderful west coast of Ireland. We had sailed there to see our friends Alex and Daria Blackwell who we had met on our Atlantic circuit . Alex spent his childhood here , living on a farm surrounded by the sea and has returned after 20 years in America. After just a week in the area one has to question his sanity in leaving in the first place!

From ClewBay and the islands

We have explored the islands by canoe and launch , caught mackerel in the tide races and harvested shellfish from the foreshores at low tide. Here and there we have come across the ruins of old fortified towers , high enough to command the little inlets , but not so high that they are visible by an unsuspecting ship cruising offshore . It was from these creeks and these castles that Grace O’Malley controlled the seas hereabouts , all the while fighting a rearguard action against the encroaching Tudor conquest of Ireland . Her Galleys , which were probably little removed from the Viking longships of 4 centuries earlier , would have been the ideal vessels to shoot out from the shelter of the islands and extract toll or plunder from passing trade , or take a passage north to the Hebrides to hire the mercenaries or gallowglasses with which Gaelic clans fought each other and the invading English.
Tomorrow , we are going to follow in her footsteps and head off for Scotland to join up with Mike and Louise – winds willing. Until then , greetings from the best kept secret in Ireland from Festina and her crew.

One Comments

  1. Sounds amazing!

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