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