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View the private chamber of Granuaile, Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley high up inside Rockfleet Castle!

Updated on July 8, 2014

Welcome to my virtual tour inside Carraigahowley (Rockfleet) Castle, the main residence of Granuaile (Grace O'Malley) from the time of her marriage to Richard Bourke in 1566 to the time of her death in 1603. It was here that she withstood and routed a 21 day siege mounted by English soldiers coming from Galway city in 1574.

The Castle is located on an inlet of Clew Bay, near the town of Newport in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland.

Begin your virtual tour of this Pirate Queen Castle!

As we enter through the front door we find the earthen ground floor of the castle with an alcove containing a removable, wooden, alternating stepladder which could be raised to curtail access to the rest of the castle when under siege.

As we ascend the ladder to the second floor we begin to understand how confusing an alternating step ladder can be to the unwary and so we pay close attention to our footing.

A view from the second floor corridor looking back at the wooden ladder. The doorway entrance to the second floor chamber is visible near the left of the ladder.

The second floor chamber has a floor made of timber. The narrow slit windows allow in the light but make very difficult targets from the outside of the castle while allowing defensive positions from within.

A defensive position corridor runs along the outside wall of the second floor. Birds now nest within the narrow slit windows once used to defend the castle.

Once again we watch our footing as we follow the narrow stone steps that wind their way up to the third floor of the castle.

As we reach the third floor chamber with it's timber flooring we look up to the concave ceiling above. This concave ceiling made of stone is leveled out flat and then covered with flagstones on the floor above, in effect, making the fourth floor above completely separate as well as fireproof.

A few more stone steps upwards and we come upon an unexpected site! We find a simple stone privy, which empties down to the inlet for cleansing during high tide.

A few more steps down the corridor from the privy we come to the last stone steps leading up to the private chamber of Granuaile.

After nearly 500 years we can still feel the presence of this extraordinary woman and as we finally enter her private chamber we do so with a sense of hushed awe. It is easy for us to imagine the peat fire burning in the massive fireplace reflecting it's warmth and light around the room, the flagstoned floors and rock walls covered with tapestries and plush sheepskin rugs..... the chamber full of the treasures of her trade.

Another view across the room to a narrow slit window.

A view up the narrow stone steps from the chamber leading up onto the ramparts of the castle.

Here we see the entrance door to the private chamber as seen from within the chamber. Next to the door we see the gated entrance to the stone steps leading up to the ramparts.

Standing within the entrance to the private chamber we look down the narrow stone steps leading down.

SquiDirectory - Visit the SquiDirectory Squidoo directory, and find something else interesting to read about!

Watch a video and listen to some fantastic Irish Music celebrating Granuaile!

and.... If ye happen to be a "NOT so Well Behaved Woman of Strength and Courage", do join me Sisterhood of the Pirate Queen and other NOT Well Behaved Women of Strength and Courage!


I would love to hear from you so please do take the time to drop me a note!

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    • Granuaile profile image

      Granuaile 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you for your comment! Being an O'Malley, this place has huge meaning for me.... I am so glad you enjoyed this!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Can't believe you have featured the "Pirate Queen" and her castle on Clew Bay. Our cousins in Newport live not only across the street from this castle, but William & Agnes live high on a hill overlooking the castle and Clew Bay. We have been to Ireland to see family four times, and always dine with them and look out the windows at O'Malleys castle. Our Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles are buried just up the road going to Newport at Burrishoole Abbey Graveyard. We have traveled this part of Ireland very well, and have numerous pictures of Grace O'Malleys castle from 3 sides.

      THANK YOU for featuring it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A few years ago my sister and I happened upon this castle and were fascinated by the "Pirate Queen". I decided to google it and was presented with your virtual tour. Thank you for satisfying my curiosity about the inside.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi my grannie was related to Graunualie O'Malley her maiden name was Montgomery she come from Letterkenny in Ireland we are just looking into our family tree .

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I am a descendant of Granuaile O'Malley. It's on my fathers side, she is my hero. I love everything about her and how strong of a woman and a mother she was. I am proud to call her my long, long ago grandmother. My son's name is Conor and my daughter's name is Malley. I also named my other son Sparro, yes after Jack Sparro. As you can tell I love anything pirate, but then again it does run through my blood.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      On Valentine's Day of this year, a Sunday, I was privileged to visit Rockfleet Castle with my travelling buddy. She had been encouraging me to read about Madame Grace and I had brought the book , "The Wild Irish" by Robin Maxwell with me, but had not opened it as yet. My pal also reminded me to pick a stone for good luck from the low-tide ground around me...oh, okay. I was a bit hesitant because I know that there are sites where this is consdered bad form (Queen Maeve's Tomb for example and black coral or lava stones from Hawaii). But she insisted, so I reached down pretty much where I was standing and brought up a Heart-Shaped Stone from Pirate Queen O'Malley's "yard!!" Please let me know if I have been given a good message from Madame Grace - that hopefully I may be able to return to the West of Ireland in the not-too-distant future!

      I also wish you all to know that Valentine's Day 2010 was also the the occasion of Gong Hay Fat Choy - Happy Chinese New Year of the TIGER and I wish for Ireland to have the return of the Tiger bring it the right kind of prosperity this time, one that benefits all of the country not just the Greedy at the Top!! Slainte, Patricia Mary Agnes/NYC

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      jgelien 8 years ago

      This is a fascinating tale. Thank you for the virtual tour.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I am 6 years old and just starting to understand who my namesake is thank you for a look into her home. I would like to visit here some day. I have already ben to the keep on Clare Island and the Abby there but I was only 14 months old then. My mother saved some soil form the floor of the keep for me. I am writeing a paper for class about my name and where it came from so thank you for all of this great information.

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      anonymous 9 years ago

      this is a wonderful blog. I love it! Its such a beautiful castle that has mystery and suspence in it.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      What a fascinating story! Thanks for adding this to All Things Travel.

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      MrMarmalade 9 years ago

      great lens, spooky .

      Reminds of that father's jail he put his daughter in and gave her such great presents.

      The the other day some other crazy wanted to simulate him.

      Made you top five Stars *****

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      Tarra99 9 years ago

      Great pics! I look forward to more beautiful lenses from you.

    • anthropos lm profile image

      Lamar Ross 9 years ago from Florida

      A very interesting photographic depiction. Thanks for joining ”Anything and Everything Travel” Group. We look forward to seeing your other travel related lenses in our group. Keep up the good work.