Louisburgh Tourist Attractions
Louisburgh (Cluain Cearban, "Kerwan's Meadow") is a fishing village and holiday resort in the northwest of Ireland on the south side of Clew Bay.Louisburgh is beautifully situated in a coastal plain with good fishing rivers bounded by Croagh Patrick on the east and the Mweelrea Mountains (2,576ft/785m) on the south and fringed on the seaward side by cliffs and sandy beaches. Northeast of the village the promontory of Old Head, from which there are fine views, extends into the bay.The exhibits in the Folk and Famine Center (opening times given) are devoted to two subjects: the life and history of Grace O'Malley and the great famine of 1847.
The surroundings of Louisburgh have many features of interest.
To the east of Louisburgh, Croagh Patrick (2,471ft/753m), Ireland's holy mountain, rises abruptly out of the plain. It can be climbed either from Lecanvey Church or from Murrisk, farther to the east. Near Murrisk are the ruins of a small monastery (aisleless church, with tower; living quarters). The final climb is up a steep slope covered with quartzite scree (strong footwear essential). It is a strenuous ascent, rewarded by ever more extensive views. From the top the prospect extends northward over Clew Bay, studded with little islands, to the hills of the Curraun Peninsula, northeastward to Mount Nephin - a view which is at its finest at sunset - southward over the Mweelrea Mountains to the Twelve Bens in Connemara, and westward to Clare Island at the mouth of Clew Bay.There is a great pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday in July, commemorating the 40 days of penance which St Patrick is said to have spent here in the year 441. In the chapel on the flat top of the hill a service is held for the pilgrims, many of whom shed their footwear in order to complete the final stage of their journey barefoot; the discarded shoes can be seen lying along the wayside.
South of Louisburgh the R335 climbs gradually to the Doo Lough, enclosed by steep rock faces. With its lakes the valley offers good opportunities for salmon and trout fishing; its beauty has led to its being named the "Vale of Delphi."
A minor road runs southwest from Louisburgh to the River Carrownisky (trout and salmon) and Killeen, an isolated little village with good beaches.
Dunes offer shelter at the two-mile sandy beach at Silver Strand.
Off the coast to the northwest of Louisburgh lies a quiet holiday retreat, hilly Clare Island, which belonged in the 16th C. to the legendary Grace O'Malley. The castle (National Monument) by the small harbor is said to have been built by her. The island, which has a population of 160, can be reached by boat from Roonagh Quay, 4mi/6km west of Louisburgh.Grace O'Malley (ca. 1530-1600), the "Uncrowned Queen of the West," shared with the rest of her family a taste for piracy, operating from her base on Clare Island. The fame of this remarkable woman reached London, and Queen Elizabeth I expressed a desire to meet her. It is said that Grace O'Malley went to Court, where she rejected all the favors shown her by the Queen, whom she treated as an equal. On her way home she called at Howth Castle in Dublin but was refused admittance, since the family was at dinner, whereupon Grace abducted the young son of the house and released him only on a promise that in future unexpected visitors would be bidden to a meal. For centuries thereafter an extra place was laid at the dinner table in Howth Castle and the castle doors were left open.Grace O'Malley also treated her husbands in a fashion very much her own. When she married her second husband she made it a condition that after one year of marriage each partner should have the right to dissolve the marriage by pronouncing the words, "I dismiss you." During the year she insinuated her henchmen into the various family properties, and at the end of it, when her husband returned one day to their tower house at Carrigahooley she called to him from a window "I dismiss you," and refused to let him in.
Clare Island - St Bridget's Church
1.25mi/2.5km southwest of the Clare Island harbor, which lies to the northwest of Louisburgh, stand the ruins of St Bridget's Church (c. 1500; National Monument). In the choir are medieval frescoes with an extraordinary mingling of human figures and animals, the meaning of which is unknown; the only scene which can be understood is a figure of the Archangel Michael weighing souls. On the south side of the island, commandingly situated on the cliffs, is a promontory fort.