|Native name||Cuan Mó (Irish)|
|Etymology||English name: "bay of hurdles"|
Irish name: "Modh's harbour"
|River sources||Bunowen river network, Owenmore river network, Newport river network, Srahmore river, Carrowbeg River, Moyour River, Owenglasbreen Stream, Owenwee River, Owennabrockagh river, Rossow river|
|Ocean/sea sources||Atlantic Ocean|
|Settlements||Louisburgh, Lecanvey, Murrisk, Westport, Newport, Mulranny|
The bay is overlooked by Croagh Patrick to the south and the Nephin Range mountains of North Mayo. Clare Island guards the entrance of the bay. From the southwest part of the bay eastwards are Louisburgh, Lecanvey, Murrisk, and Westport; north of Westport is Newport, and westwards from there lies Mulranny, gateway to Achill. From the south side of the bay, between Clare Island and Achill, Bills Rocks can be seen.
The bay was anciently known in Irish as Cuan Mod[h] ("Mod Harbour") or Modlind ("Mod Pool"), and was associated with the Fir Bolg. Some writers claim that this name derives from Modh, one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Another possibility is the Old Irish mod, moth, which meant "penis"; it is possible that the bay was imagined as a penis thrusting into the land.
Another old name is Cuan Umaill ("harbour of Umhaill"), which was rendered in English as "Bay of the Owly", and then "Bay of the Owles." The English names Bay of Borace, Horrus, Baragh and Boruce are all recorded, all references to Burrishoole (Buiríos Umhaill). The name Clew Bay, of uncertain origin, first appears in a 1714 map; it may be derived from cliath, "hurdle".
Clew Bay was the focus of the O'Malley family possessions in the Middle Ages, and is associated especially with Grace O'Malley (or Granuaile). She is known as the Pirate Queen who commanded a fleet of ships and maintained several castles, including those on Clare Island, Achill and Rockfleet.
Fish farming in Clew Bay
Islands of Clew Bay
The bay is also home to Dorinish, a private island purchased by John Lennon in 1967. Glenans Ireland, a non-profit sailing school, had a branch on Collanmore Island where sailing was taught.
Legend has it that Clew Bay has 365 islands in it—"an island for every day of the year". The large number of drumlins at the east end of the bay gave rise to this myth, but in fact there are not so many.
Drumlin islands, sandbars, and rocks
This chart shows the relative positions of the islands, sandbars, and rocks in the eastern half of Clew Bay. There are 141 named islands and islets within the bay.
|Beetle Island North
|95||Moynish More||Black Rock
Beetle Island South
Kid Island East
|89||Island More||Collan Beg||Collan More
|Stony Island||Cleavlagh Strand|
|Green Islands||Carricknacaly||Monkellys Rocks|
|84||Cahernaran Island||Annagh Island West
|Annagh Island East
|83||Annagh Island Middle
- http://www.wfdireland.ie/docs/1_River%20Basin%20Management%20Plans%202009%20-%202015/WRBD%20RBMP%202010/Water%20Management%20Unit%20Action%20Plans/Clew%20Bay%20WMU_190310.pdf[bare URL]
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- Media related to Clew Bay at Wikimedia Commons
- Skippered charters on Clew Bay, with photos and information