Grace O’Malley’s Castle

Grace O’Malley’s Castle (also known as Kildavnet Tower) dates all the way back to the 15th Century.
Built by the O’Malley clan around the year 1429, it’s one of a number of O’Malley tower houses along the Mayo coastline. Each was placed in a strategic location to protect the region from any threat.
Kildavnet Tower is located at the mouth of Achill Sound at the southeast end of the island. Standing at 12 metres in height, with three storeys, it was perfectly positioned to protect the passage between Clew Bay to the south and Blacksod Bay to the north.
The castle is a national monument, protected and preserved by the state.

The O’Malley Clan

The O’Malleys were a well-known Irish chieftain family, one of Connaught’s leading seafaring clans. They controlled the Gaelic territory of Umhall, which included Achill Island.
Grace O’Malley (1530-1603), daughter of Eoghan and Margaret, was born in the time of Henry the Eighth. At the time of Grace’s birth, Henry was known as the Lord of Ireland.
From her youngest days, Grace had a strong and determined character. Legend has it that one day, as a young girl, she asked her father to take her to sea with him. He refused, concerned that her long hair would get tangled in the ropes of the rigging. To Grace, the solution was clear: she cut off her hair.
It’s said that this event earned her the nickname of Gráinne Mhaol (Granuaile) meaning Bald Grace.

Grace O’Malley, Pirate Queen of Ireland

As time passed, Grace’s reputation as a seafarer grew. After the death of her father, she took over the family’s seafaring interests, including piracy and plundering.
In the present day, she is remembered as one of the world’s best-known pirates and is commonly referred to as the Pirate Queen of Ireland.
As you visit the tower during your Achill Island Day Tour, try to imagine the drama and activity that would once have been associated with this pirate castle.
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