The Ghost of Grace O’Malley

Map 27

Sunday 28th July ’19


I spent a nice, relaxing Saturday walking around the village of Newport, and like every Saturday the weather was amazing. The sun was shining, the temperature was around 18c, there was a slight breeze, the views were exhilarating and clear, deliciously fresh air was filling my lungs. What a day. And no camera.

I was worried that Sunday would end up being washed out with rain, but I was pleasantly surprised. I woke up to cloudy skies, and a light drizzle, which turned into cloudy skies with a very light drizzle. Typical Irish weather which was really growing on me.

I started off cycling the walking route I had taken the day before, and it's amazing how different things look when there's clouds instead of sun. I really wanted to photograph ALL the locations I had seen the day before. Things looked very different though. Some better and some worse. It's really true when they say that locations change based upon the weather. And that it's worthwhile to visit the same location over and over at different times of the day and in different weather conditions.

I was raring to go, so I spent about an hour cycling and photographing around Newport village. The Newport bridge is called The Seven Arches Bridge and is an historic bridge that was built around 1892. The bridge is a seven span squared red sandstone structure with limestone detailing over the Black Oak River. The last train ran on this line in the autumn of 1937. It was recently restored as part of the Great Western Greenway, the longest off-road cycling & walking route in Ireland.

Person walking on bridge over Newtown River under Newton Viaduct arch - County Mayo - BW selective color
Children playing in Newport community playground seen under Newton Viaduct arch - County Mayo - BW selective colour

After leaving Newport, I lucked out on another arched bridge, over Lough Feeagh. I couldn't help but spend another hour visiting this architectural delight . The weather was cooperating nicely, with moody skies and very few showers.

7 arch bridge with blurred rocks in front over Lough Feeagh - County Mayo - Vignette - BW
Side view of flowers in front of 7 arch bridge over Lough Feeagh - County Mayo
Blurred flowers in front of 7 arch bridge over Lough Feeagh - County Mayo
Sharp side view of 7 arch bridge over Lough Feeagh - County Mayo

My next port of call was to visit a pirate. Not just any pirate, but one of the most famous women pirates. Grace O'Malley.

She is a well-known historical figure in 16th-century Irish history even though she is not mentioned in the Irish annals. So documentary evidence for her life comes mostly from English sources, especially the eighteen "Articles of Interrogatory", questions put to her in writing on behalf of Elizabeth I. She is also mentioned in the English State Papers and in other similar documents. According to her biographer Anne Chambers, O'Malley was "a fearless leader, by land and by sea, a political pragmatist and politician, a ruthless plunderer, a mercenary, a rebel, a shrewd and able negotiator, the protective matriarch of her family and tribe, a genuine inheritor of the Mother Goddess and Warrior Queen attributes of her remote ancestors. Above all else, she emerges as a woman who broke the mould and thereby played a unique role in history". (info taken from Wikipedia here).

I visited Rockfleet Castle, also known as Carrickahowley Castle (Irish: Carraig an Chabhlaigh), which is a tower house not too far from Newport in County Mayo. It was built in the mid-sixteenth century, and is supposedly the home of the 'pirate queen' and chieftain of the Clan O'Malley, the one and only Grace O'Malley.

I wasn't there for long, and did not encounter the ghost of Grace O'Malley. Although I could have sworn I heard the shout "walk the plank matey".

Carrickahowley or Rockfleet Castle info board
Carrickahowley or Rockfleet Castle and reflection - Grace O'Malley Pirate Queens Holdings - County Mayo - front
Carrickahowley or Rockfleet Castle and reflection -Grace O'Malley Pirate Queens Holdings - County Mayo
Carrickahowley or Rockfleet Castle -Grace O'Malley Pirate Queens Holdings - County Mayo - 2
Carrickahowley or Rockfleet Castle -Grace O'Malley Pirate Queens Holdings - County Mayo

The rest of my journey was really quiet, uneventful and not too difficult. The views however, were amazing.

I even got to watch a shepherd tend to his flock. But as soon as my camera came out, he got camera-shy and quickly moved all the sheep away.

Boat in the harbour seen from Carrickahowley Castle - County Mayo
Cemetery in County Mayo looking over Clew Bay to Croagh Patrick Mountains County Galway
Field of sheep and mountains in background - County Mayo - large pano
Weeds blurred in front of field of sheep and mountains in background - County Mayo
Weeds and flowers in front of blurred field of sheep and mountains in background - County Mayo - 2
Sheep with blue and purple smiling at the camera sitting in front of field with blurred sheep - County Mayo
Sheep and farmer in pen - Coutny mayo
Irish house in the hills - County Mayo
Long and winding road - County Mayo - 2

On I went, heading to Achill Island as my final destination for the night. On the way as I passed Mulranny, I saw the famed Mulranny Saltmarsh. What a sight to behold. I have never seen anything like it . Ever. Anywhere.  It was truly mesmerizing. And watching the sheep roam made me wonder how they get from island to island, and back again without getting lost. I still don't know. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to let me know.

Footbridge on Mulranny Saltmarsh - County Mayo
Lone sheep on Mulranny Saltmarsh - County Mayo
Sheep with red dye and reflection on Mulranny Saltmarsh - County Mayo

About an hour later, I arrived at my campground, "Seals Cove Campground", very ready to rest for awhile. The campgrounds were nice, albeit with spotty wi-fi. The first spot I chose to set up camp had no wi-fi, so I moved closer to the kitchens and bathrooms and after testing the wi-fi signal, I set up camp again.

The bathrooms were decent with great hot water showers, and anyone within 20 metres of me, would've agreed that I should make as much use of them as possible. Naturally, I indulged.

After my shower, I went off to photograph Slievemore mountain with my drone, my personal Eye-In-The-Sky. What a beautiful area.

I spent about an hour out photographing and then headed back to my campsight for supper and a well-deserved sleep.

Dugort Beach and Slievemore Mountain Achill Island
Slievemore mountain in the clouds County Mayo - BW
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2 thoughts on “The Ghost of Grace O’Malley”

  1. Some amazing photographs Boruch. I love the sheep on the grassy islands. They must either be good long-jumpers or swimmers I would imagine.

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