The approach to the quayside on Clare Island was sheltered, so we had a clear view of the O'Malleys' castle keep and other buildings clustered around the harbour bay. It seems that every nook and cranny of this part of Ireland has some association with Grace O’Malley (“Gráinne Ni Mháille”), who was born in the mid-1500’s on Clare Island where her father was clan chief. When he died she inherited his ship, using it for legal trade before turning to piracy and eventually leading a crew of 200 in robberies of ships all around the west coast of Ireland. She was known as the Queen of the Pirates and was twice captured and imprisoned by the British. Then in 1593 she had a personal interview with Queen Elizabeth, securing the release of her son and her brother from prison, and receiving a pardon in exchange for a promise to help guard against Spanish armada ships off the coast of Ireland.
Ballytoughy Loom, spinning, dyeing and weaving. Beth and Martin had arranged the show.
The centre consists of a large hall divided by some fence panels, with a takeaway and eating-area in one part, and a table-tennis table in the main part. A mezzanine floor accommodated the island's development office. At the opposite end, next to the takeaway, was the licensed bar. By the time we arrived both the bar and the takeaway were busy. I thought we would be able to create a space for the show by moving some of the panels and bringing-in some seating. However, on Beth's recommendation, the show took place in the bar, eventually. There was little opportunity to "dress the set", and it meant pitching in competition with a few drinkers who were moving into the endgame of their session, but Martin and Gille were quite capable of holding their own, and most people enjoyed and appreciated it. I played some background guitar.