Floating about 5km (3 miles) off the Mayo coast, just beyond Clew Bay, Clare Island is a place of unspoiled splendor. Inhabited for 5,000 years and once quite populous—1,700 people lived there in the early 19th century—Clare is now home to only about 150 year-round islanders, plus perhaps as many sheep. But the island is best known as the haunt of Grace O’Malley, the “Pirate Queen,” who controlled the coastal waters 400 years ago. O’Malley’s modest castle and the partially restored Cistercian abbey where she is buried are among the island’s few attractions—the main draw is the island’s remote natural beauty. Two ferry services operate out of Roonagh Harbour, 29km (18 miles) south of Westport: O’Malley’s Ferry Service (www.omalleyferries.com; [tel] 098/25045); and Clare Island Ferries (www.clareislandferry.com; [tel] 098/23737). The round-trip fare for the 15-minute journey is around €15.