Clare Island is at the entrance to Clew Bay, off Ireland’s western Atlantic coast. It’s the largest of Clew Bay’s 365 islands, only six of which are inhabited year-round. It rises to a height of 1520 feet and is an important breeding ground for seabirds. The family of the legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley owned the island during the Middle Ages, and many of the O’Malley clan are buried at an abbey on the south side of the island.
The island’s original lighthouse was built in 1806, but it was damaged by fire seven years later due to the careless disposal of candle wicks by the keeper. A new lighthouse was built in 1818, serving until it was decommissioned in 1965. A German pathologist, Goesta Fischer, bought the property in 2008 in partnership with Roie McCann, an interior designer.
After five years of renovation, Clare Island Lighthouse was opened in 2013 as a luxury boutique hotel. It won an award as Europe’s Best Coastal Boutique Hotel in 2016. The property is now for sale. Roie McCann, general manager of Clare Island Lighthouse, is interviewed in this episode.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org