Clew Bay (Cuan Mó) is a natural ocean bay that contains Ireland's best example of sunken drumlins and one of nature's greatest spectacles when viewed from a height. 

It's a breathtaking and beguiling view, unlike anything else in the British Isles.

Clare Island guards the entrance of the bay which is overlooked by Croagh Patrick to the south and the Nephin Range mountains of North Mayo.

Local mythology counts Clew Bay's islands at 365; one for every day of the year.

The Land

The soil of the islands are very rich, which made it fantastic for farming. It once supported a supported a community of people who lived off the land and surrounding sea. The fertile soil is a clue to how the extraordinary landscape of Clew Bay formed. The islands are made of the rich residue left behind by glaciers which formed during the Ice Age 20,000 years ago; when much of Ireland was covered by a vast ice sheet.

As the climate cooled, and warmed, the ice advanced and retreated, moulding the land underneath, and creating the distinctive features that became Clew Bay.

Known technically as drumlins; which comes from the Gaelic word druim (meaning a small hill). In every glacial landscape you find these landforms. The repetitive pattern of drumlin islands across the bay is what makes it so striking to see.

Theory suggests that a wave-like motion under the melting ice created these distinctive shapes and patterns.It is a process similar to what happens when the tide goes out on a beach, leaving those familiar wave-like ripples in the sand.


The Sea

For seafarers who know the islands and reefs, it's a place of protection from the North Atlantic.

But without local knowledge, it's also a treacherous maze.

400 years ago, this territory was controlled by an extraordinary Gaelic leader who lived in the Tower House at Rockfleet just a couple of minutes drive from Hotel Newport.

Grace was lord of the Ó Máille dynasty in the west of Ireland. Commonly known as Gráinne Mhaol in Irish folklore, she is a well-known historical figure in 16th-century Irish history sometimes referred to by an Anglicised version of her name, Grace O'Malley.

The castle sits on a natural slab of bedrock and at high tide, it's surrounded on three sides by water.

Grainne ni Mhaille who lives on in legend as the Pirate Queen of Connaught. She was a trader, pirate, mother, grandmother and the wife of the man who eventually became the
overlord of Mayo, with her financial backing. Grace saw the sea as her domain, so anyone who crossed it was fair game. She would look out across Clew Bay while she brought up her children here. Although the tower would have had home comforts, its primary purpose was to protect the O'Malleys from their enemies.

The bay is also home to Dorinish, a private island purchased by John Lennon in 1967. Glenans Ireland, a non-profit sailing school, had a branch on CollanmoreIsland
where sailing was taught.

Although legend has it that Clew Bay has 365 islands "an island for every day of the year". The large number of drumlins at the east end of the bay gave rise to this myth, but in fact there are not so many.
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