By Tom Gillespie
THE 16th century Grace O’Malley Castle on the Isle of Clare is to be turned into a cultural center for visitors and the island.
And a senior US Democratic official and new Taoiseach from the O’Malley clan has pledged to raise funds for the project.
Martin Joseph O’Malley, an American lawyer and former politician who served as Maryland’s 61st governor, will be named chief of the O’Malley clan next year and the ceremony will take place on Clare Island.
Clare Island Community Coordinator Brendan Tobin explained: “We currently have an ongoing project which is a feasibility study by Arthur Gibney and Partners Architects, Dublin, and Oranmore Architectural Services on Clare Island Grainne Castle. Uwing and on the development of what will be a cultural center for visitors/the island – not an interpretation centre, these are just dead buildings – it will be a living building, 24/7, all the year.
“An interesting thing is happening here. Martin O’Malley, two-time governor of Maryland and a seasoned Democrat, is the new Taoiseach of the O’Malley clan.
“He wants to be inaugurated as Taoiseach of Clan O’Malley on Clare Island in 2023.
“He is committed to making most of his time fundraising for the chateau and promoting the story of Grainne Uaile. He is committed to helping us raise funds for the project.”
Clare Island was the stronghold of Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley. Its castle was built in the 16th century and is considered a fine example of a tower house.
Inside the castle, to the left of the main entrance, is a passage in the wall with a stone staircase starting at the first floor. Access to these was most likely provided by a wooden staircase from the ground floor. The main salon would have been on the first floor.
In the mid-1820s, the castle was turned into a police barracks.