Mayo Maigh Eo “Plain of the Yew”
Louisberg Cluain Cearbán
In your approach to Louisberg you pass through stunning scenery along the beautiful Clew Bay on one side and Croagh Patrick on the other while the latter passes through lake, mountain and overwhelming scenery past Doolough and Delphi Lodge. The town is built upon the Bunowen river which is popular place of salmon fishing. The nearby Roonagh Pier, is the departure point for ferries to both Clare Island and Inishturk.
The town was constructed in 1795 by the 3rd Earl of Altamount, (later 1st Marquess of Sligo), John Denis Browne of Westport, as a place of refuge for those Catholic refugees forced to escape the sectarian conflicts of the north of Ireland. Louisburg (or Louisbourg in French) was a French named fortress on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. The town’s was named after the uncle of it’s founder, one Captain Henry Browne, who fought in the Battle of Louisbourg in 1758( on the British side).
The town is particularly alive with Traditional Music each May bank holiday weekend for Féile Chois Chuan. Louisberg is also home to the Gráinne Mhaol interpretive centre.
(In an eco box)
Why not cycle the Great Western Greenway – a 42km traffic free cycling or walking trail stretching from Westport all the way to scenic Achill Island!
Westport “Cathair na Mart “stone fort of the beeves” or “city of the fairs”
Ireland’s holy mountain “Croagh Patrick” site of annual pilgrimage makes for a striking backdrop to the town. Today, Westport is one of Mayo’s thriving centres
Set in the South West corner of Clew Bay, Westport is unusual in Ireland in that it is one of only a few planned towns in the country. The towns’ centre was designed by James Wyatt in 1780 in the classic Georgian architectural style. Matt Molloy of Irish band “The Chieftains” has a pub and music venue on Bridge Street.
A little out the road from the town you will find the palatial Westport House and gardens. Built in the 1730s, on the site of the original Ó Máille Castle home place of the family of Gráinne Mhaol the infamous Pirate Queen. Today the Pirate Adventure Park located in the grounds is a favourite with kids and grown ups alike.
Westport has an 18-hole golf course and a nearby 9-hole course.
In 1842, the English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray, visited Westport and wrote of the town:
“The most beautiful view I ever saw in the world. It forms an event in one’s life to have seen that place so beautiful that is it, and so unlike other beauties that I know of. Were such beauties lying on English shores it would be a world’s wonder perhaps, if it were on the Mediterranean or Baltic, English travellers would flock to it by hundreds, why not come and see it in Ireland!”
Clare Island Oileán Chliara in Irish
This is a mountainous island guarding the entrance to Clew Bay – once home to the famous Irish pirate queen, Grace O’Malley (Gráinne Mhaol). Today 145 people make their home here. Caher Island and Inishturk are to be seen beyond the waves, on the horizon.
An area of intense biological interest between 1909 and 1911, the Belfast naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger completed the “Clare Island Survey” here – one of the first of it’s kind.
With it’s wild and dramatic coastline, this portion of Ireland is full of surprises.
Blacksod Bay Cuan an Fhóid Dhuibh
Blacksod bay frames the southern portion of the Bellmullet peninsula in the barony of Erris. All along this coast we discover the traces of a vivid and compelling history- of monastic settlement and the castles that once served as fortresses for Ireland’s coastal communities.
There are numerous sandy beaches opening onto Blacksod bay from Doona where Spanish Armada ship La Rata Encoronada was wrecked to the yellow sands of Geesala and Srah Beach. Adventure areas on Mullaghroe Beach and Elly Bay are well worth the visit for those more daring travellers.
Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, Eachleim, Blacksod.
Ionad Deirbhile is named in honour of the female saint who founded a monastery on the Belmullet peninsula. Here, in the heart of the Mayo Gaeltacht you may learn about the lives led by people of this region in the harsh years of 19th century Ireland. Featuring lively accounts of local folklore history and archaeology, the centre with it’s charming commemorative garden is both informative and inspiring – meet the land as it was.
Tír Sáile (pronounced “Teer Saw- le”) Sculpture Trail
This unique North Mayo sculpture trail is Ireland’s largest public arts project. Featuring 14 site -specific sculptures , the Trail was opened in 1993. You will discover engaging pieces on a range of sites including sand dunes, a disused quarry and agricultural land. In honour of the great cultural heritage and legacy of this region, these pieces enhance the environment through creative imagination bringing the landscape and the past to life. Each of these sculptures are clearly marked by road signs as you travel the route from Blacksod North to Ballina.
Kayaking in Broadhaven Bay
At just 2 km from the shore, the journey by kayak to the Stags of Broadhaven Bay is thought to be one of the finest sea kayaking journeys in Ireland, if now the world. These “Stags” are a group of five high-standing cliffs. Over two billion years old, they are an outpost from another age – standing defiantly against the onslaught of wild atlantic waves.
Though similar in form to the Skelligs of Kerry, the Stags have been a home to wildlife alone. An experienced kayaker may come here by kayak at low tide to explore the many sea caves and marvel at the dramatic cliffs rising from the ocean. There is much to explore in the sheltered waters of Broadhaven Bay.
Belmullet Béal an Mhuirthead “mouth of the Mullet [Peninsula]”
Belmullet has two bays, Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay, linked by Carter’s canal running through the town.
In 1715 Sir Arthur Shaen, an English landlord settled in Erris, began work on this small town on a wet and marshy area near ‘The Mullet’ peninsula. To drain this marshy area and to form a passageway from Blacksod Bay into Broadhaven Bay, Shaen had a canal excavated which would allow small boats to pass from one bay to the other.
Léim Siar is a popular B&B here with views of Blacksod Bay. Here you can meet a curious melange of cultures in the summer months as proprietress Hannah Quigley takes on Woofers to assist in the running of her business. As only Irish and English are permitted on the premises, you may get to hear some German youth speaking their cúpla focail!
“… the impression one gets of the whole life is not a gloomy one. Last night was St. John’s Eve, and bonfires – a relic of Druidical rites – were lighted all over the country, the largest of all being placed in the town square of Belmullet, where a crowd of small boys shrieked and cheered and threw up firebrands for hours together. Today, again, there was a large market in the square, where a number of country people, with their horses and donkeys, stood about bargaining for young pigs, heather brooms, homespun flannels, secondhand clothing, blacking- brushes, tinker’s goods and many other articles. Once when I looked out the blacking-brush man and the card-trick man were getting up a fight in the corner of the square. A little later there was another stir and I saw a Chinaman wandering about, followed by a wondering crowd. The sea in Erris, as in Connemara, and the continual arrival of islanders and boatmen from various directions, tend to keep up an interest and movement that is felt even far away in the villages among the hills.”
Fallmore An Fál Mór
St. Derbhile lived in the 6th century here at Fallmore, on the Southerly tip of the Belmullet Peninsula.
Here you can visit the remains of her church, “Derbhile’s bed” and a holy well, Tobar Deirbhle.
Several ships of the Spanish Armada went down in the mighty waters around North Mayo in the 16th Century. The Santiago went down in the bay and many ships through the years have met their end in these waters. There are many tales of fortunes of gold and valuables being stashed away by local pirates after looting unfortunate ships which tried to take shelter from rough seas.
On the road between the Céide fields in Belderrig and the town of Glenamoy a landslide in 2002 in a period of high rainfall completely cut off the access to the far west of the peninsula. Here, bogland is a substantial part of the wild Mayo landscape . It is thanks to this peculiarity of the land that the people were able to preserve their independent spirit in times of Ireland’s conquest. Cromwell never took Erris, it is said. And yet, this isolation brought with it poverty – the distance one may travel for goods and services is considerable. One is well to remember that noble families who fled the onslaught of Oliver Cromwell would also have taken refuge in these remote regions of Ireland. Cromwells infamous decree – “To Hell or to Connaught” is still ringing in our ears in this part of the world. All is not as it seems.
A deep vein of good humour and the resilient independent spirit of the people here is worth noticing. This tight knit community is served by local travelling shops and warmed to home-saved turf burning in the fires.
“Níl muid ach braon isteach san fharraige” – we are but a drop in the ocean
For 5,000 years at least people have lived on these bogs of North Mayo and the connection of the people to the land of their forefathers is a special one. Rooted into place and heritage, the life here is one for the hardy and strong of heart though it is not an easy one. The decision is a courageous one to stay to work the land and make a living in the footsteps of one’s ancestors. It is this connection to those who have passed before that deep sense of place that is a very special mood and atmosphere in these precious few parts of Ireland where that unbroken connection remains. Every stone has a story, every field has a name.
Downpatrick Head 3 miles north of Ballycastle village is a striking headland standing 126ft above the sea. From here, you can breath in the pristine Atlantic air and view the Staggs of Broadhaven to the west, and high cliffs along the shore. A small stone building at the top of Downpatrick Head was once used as a lookout post during the Second World War.
It is now a prime spot to view the many species of birds on ‘Dún Briste’.
Ballycastle Baile an Chaisil “town of the castle”
Sited on high ground on the rugged coast of North Mayo, Ballycastle’s northern boundary is exposed to the wild Atlantic ocean. To the west of the town one can view the Stags of Broadhaven, while to the east lies Killala Bay . To the south are the towns of Crossmolina and Ballina. It was at the Céide Fields near Ballycastle that Ireland’s first settlers began to farm the slopes of the Behy/Glenurla hillside over 5000 years ago.
If you are around Ballycastle for the August Bank Holiday weekend check out the annual Healyfest festival !
A Sea Stack known as ‘Dún Briste’ (The Broken Fort) can be seen at Downpatrick Head, 3 miles north of Ballycastle. It was separated from the mainland in 1393 as a result of high seas and the people were taken off using ships ropes. It stands measuring 63 metres by 23 metres, 45 metres high and 228 metres from the shore.
According to one legend, a pagan chieftain, named Crom Dubh, lived here. He refused to listen to St. Patrick who tried to convert him to Christianity. St. Patrick hit the ground with his crozier and the stack was separated from the mainland, leaving Crom Dubh to die there.
Broadhaven Bay Cuan an Inbhir “ Harbour of the Inver”
Broadhaven Bay faces northward, stretching 8.6 km between Erris Head in the west and Kid Island, Oileán Mionnán, to the east. Here you are sure to meet the multitude of wildlife that make their home in this unspoilt region.
In 2000, Broadhaven Bay was designated by the National Parks and Wildlife Services, NPWS, part of the Department of the Environment as a candidate Special Area of Conservation.
There is a Stone circle at Glengad overlooking Broadhaven Bay, Erris
The inner region of Broadhaven Bay known as Sruwaddacon Bay is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and, together with the nearby Glenamoy Bog region for wintering wildfowl species, for Brents Geese in particular.
Many wonderful white sandy beaches are to be found all around the bay especially at Carrowteige/Rinroe, Glengad and Inver.
Belderrig Beal Dearg “The Red Mouth”
This town is named after the colour of the water at certain times of the year. The Belderrig river catchment area has rich deposits of iron ore mixed with clay, resulting in red ore (or ‘ridge bhui’ as it is known locally) being released towards the river mouth when old drains are opened in Spring.
Here you may gaze at a turfcutter harvesting winter fuel on ancient bogland or fishermens skillful handling of the traditional ‘currach’ to take home his evening catch into the shelter of the bay.
Belderrig is considered the centre of the North Mayo currach region and one can usually see a number of these vessels anchored in the bay at Belderrig. A history book written by Dr Breandán Mac Conamhna – ‘The Belderrig Curragh and Its People’ is a book about this unique seagoing craft.
Travel to the Belderrig Cliffs, not far from the town, and you can enjoy fine views as far as Porturlin and Portacloy to the north west. The Stags of Broadhaven rise majestically in the distance and one can see the Sligo coastline and the cliffs of Killybegs in Donegal on a clear day.
In the 1930s, the local schoolmaster, Patrick Caulfield, whilst cutting turf each year continued to find large numbers of stones deep down in the bog. He was intrigued by the fact that the stones appeared in a regular formation and the depth at which the stones were found suggested they must have been placed there centuries ago. Years later, his son, Professor Seamus Caulfield, an archaeologist, discovered evidence of cultivated fields, houses and tombs, at what is now known as Céide Fields. This unique landscape had lain hidden under the bogland for many centuries.
(In a poetry box )
Poet and Nobel Prize recipient Seamus Heaney wrote a poem called “Belderg” which he enclosed in a thank-you letter to Patrick Caulfield, after he had visited him in Belderrig in 1974. This poem effectively captures the essence of the pre-historic Belderrig landscape.
They just kept turning up
And were thought of as foreign’-
One-eyed and benign
They lie about his house,
Quernstones out of a bog.
To lift the lid of the peat
And find this pupil dreaming
Of neolithic wheat!
When he stripped off blanket bog
The soft-piles centuries
Fell open like a glib:
There were the first plough-marks,
The stone age fields, the tomb
Corbelled, turfed and chambered,
Floored with dry turf-coomb.
A landscape fossilized,
Its stone wall patternings
Repeated before our eyes
In the stone walls of Mayo
Before I turn to go
He talked about persistance,
A congruence of lives,
How, stubbed and cleared of stones,
His home accrued growth rings
Of Iron, flint and bronze.
So I talked of Mossbawn,
A bogland name. ‘But Moss?’
He crossed my old home’s music
With older strains of Norse.
I’d told how its foundation
Was mutable as sound
And how I could derive
A forked root from that ground
And make bawn an English fort,
A planter’s walled-in mound
From “Belderg” by Seamus Heaney 1975
Newport (Ballyveaghan) Baile Uí Fhiacháin
Located along the shores of Clew bay, Newport or Ballyveaghan as it is traditionally known, has a very striking disused railway viaduct crossing the river which, together with the Roman Catholic church on top of the hill, dominate the town creating a picturesque appearance. There was a successful linen industry in Newport from the mid-18th until early 19th century. The Black Oak River flows through the centre of the town and here you can enjoy a pleasant walk along its grassy banks. The Church known as ‘Newport Cathedral’ has a magnificent stained glass east window of The Last Judgement, the last window completed by the fabulous Harry Clarke in 1930. Both Burrishoole Friary and Gráinne O’Malley’s Rockfleet Castle are located to the west of the town.
Mulrany An Mhala Raithní “the hill-brow of the ferns”
Mulranny is the home of colourful giant fuchsias and exotic plants. This exhuberant plant life is celebrated each summer during the Mulranny Mediterranean Heather Festival.
Comfortably nestled at the foot of The Nephin Mountain Range, Mulranny offers an array of long sandy blue flag beaches and a relatively mild climate. Once a possible pirate haven, Mulranny also holds a breathtaking coastal lagoon for you to explore. The Corraun Peninsula, which contains three mountain peaks, is situated across the waters in Clew Bay. In 2011, Mulranny was a proud winner of the EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) award.
Achill Island Acaill, Oileán Acla
No where in Ireland are there more currachs to be seen in one place – drying out in colorful collections by the shore. Here we can see what is being lost of the dying art of currach building and a low carbon lifestyle at one with nature and the elements. The Achill Currach follows the construction of the classic Mayo currachs to be found from Blacksod in North Mayo as far South as Inish Boffin. Up until the late seventies, locals continued to use hot black tar to seal in their canvas boats. Prior to that it was animal hides that would have formed the hull. Today, fiberglass provides a convenient and cost effective alternative.
Traditional yawl races are held annually off Achill Island. Former Irish politician and Mayo person of the year Dr. Jerry Cowley is a popular competitor.
A yawl (from Dutch jol) is a two-masted sailing craft similar to a sloop or cutter but with an additional mizzenmast (or mizzen mast) located well aft of the main mast, often right on the transom, or aft of the rudder post if the vessel has an inboard hung rudder. A vessel with a larger mizzen located in a more forward position is called a ketch.
Achill Island has been twinned since 2003, with the city of Cleveland in America. Today there are a large number of Achill descendants in this city. A railway once connected Achill to Westport via Newport and Mulranny but sadly closed down in 1937. It was said to have been one of the most scenic train journeys in Ireland.
Inishbiggle Inis Bigil
This is a small island between Achill on one side and Ballycroy on the other. From Achill one may access the island by boat by Bull’s Mouth or from the other end at a pier called “Gob Na Doo”. This is a place of peace and quiet beauty. In 2007 the island had only 24 inhabitants. It is a place where crime, pollution and noise simply don’t exist.
Keel An Caol “The Narrow”
A village of Achill Island.
Blacksod Bay Cuan an Fhóid Duibh
The bay contains many little islets and opens to the Atlantic Ocean.
In June 1944, Supreme commander of the “Allied forces” Dwight Eisenhower made a decision to go ahead with the D-Day landings based on the detailed weather report from Blacksod Bay. The Mullet peninsula to the western side of the bay, is covered with fairly flat sand dunes. Blacksod Bay is wide at its mouth and is a safe place for anchorage.
There are two lighthouses which can be seen from the shore: Blacksod Lighthouse, completed in 1864, lies 18 km (11 mi) off-shore out in the Atlantic Ocean. Eagle Island lighthouse lies off the northwest tip of the Mullet peninsula.
Throughout the summer you can embark on a boat trip from Blacksod to the Inishkea Islands and Inishglora, where the Children of Lir are reputed to be buried. Another notable island, Duvillaun or Dubhoileán (“Black Island”), now a bird sanctuary; is accessible by boat. Duvillaun, although now uninhabited, has monastic remains which most likely date from the Early Christian period – i.e. 6th to 8th century AD. These are similar to the archaeological remains found on Inishkea South and on Inishglora. Remains of monastic settlement here include a Gallerus-type oratory and beehive huts similar to that on Inishglora, and a tomb with large stone slabs inscribed with the crucifixion.
Is located on the banks of the Owenmore River and is the gateway to the Erris Peninsula linking Belmullet with Ballina and Westport. Carrowmore Lake, Loch na Ceathrú Móire, is located 2km away. Bangor is a popular centre for wild atlantic salmon and sea trout fishing.
“In the poorest districts of Connemara the people live (…) by various industries, such as fishing, turf-cutting, and kelp-making, which are independent of their farms, and are so precarious that many families are only kept from pauperism by the money that is sent home to them by daughters or sisters who are now servant-girls in New York. Here in the congested districts of Mayo the land is still utterly insufficient – help at least in small plots, as it is now – as a means of life, and the people get the more considerable part of their finds by their work on the English or Scotch harvest. A few days ago a special steamer went from Achill Island to Glasgow with five hundred of these labourers, most of them girls and young boys. From Glasgow they spread through the country in small bands and work together under a ganger, picking potatoes or weeding turnips and sleeping for the most part in barns and outhouses. Their wages vary from a shilling a day to perhaps double as much in places where there is more demand for their work. The men go more often to the north of England .” Synge pp 46/
The Bealderg Currach
In this region of Mayo a traditional way of life evolved over thousands of years. Skills and abilities were developed to allow the people to gain the most from their environment. Although the land may be poor, rugged mountains and a vast terrain cloaked in heather is sufficient for sheep farming. It is a beautiful sense of spaciousness one can experience in this region – it fosters a sense of peace.
Access to sheltered bays and wild ocean have meant the people have an independent spirit – facing storm and swell to take to the sea in locally crafted boats. The Bealderg Currach is one such boat – particularly suited to this region and meeting the needs of it’s people.
Dún na mBó
Erris Head Ceann Iorrais
Standing at the top of Erris Head one can sense the distance between Ireland and America across the sea, a final frontier and an opportunity to let go of all that restricts or hems in our potential. Here at the highest point of the Peninsula, there are four lighthouses to be seen their lights essential beacons of orientation in this region of crags and sheer cliffs, oceanic turbulence. There is a lighthouse on Eagle Island, Blacksod and Broadhaven Bay and ??. A well worn track leads one along this stunning loop walk of the Erris coastline, it is very much worth the effort. There is truly a sense of the ancient and mysterious in this landscape, a depth of perspective on this curious land of Ireland for all her secrets and sublime beauty.
“Is maith an scéalaí an aimsear” – Time is a good storyteller
Benwee Head An Bhinn Bhuí ‘the yellow cliff’
The remote and rugged north coast of Mayo is definitely one of Ireland’s best kept secrets. For its majestic cliffs, rugged headlands, rocky coves and jagged stacks are apparent only to those willing to walk away from the main thoroughfares to discover them.
This most northerly summit in Mayo, with its cliffs, arches, stacks and islands, offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Ireland. The cliffs of Benwee Head tower over Broadhaven Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. To appreciate the cliffs fully, you need to see them from the sea.
To explore this spectacular landscape why not set out on one of the way-marked cliff walking trails in this area. Maps can be obtained from Comhar Dún Chaocháin Teo in nearby Carrowteige Ceathrú Thaidhg. There is a special looped walk marked in red, blue and green arrows according to ability. This walk incorporates the Children of Lir Tir Saile trail, a trail of sculptures to commemorate over 5,000 years of human habitation in this part of North Mayo.
Caochán, after whom the peninsula is named, was a legendary giant of Celtic sagas (poss 1st century AD) who had only one eye. His image was represented on the slopes of the hills overlooking Sruwaddacon Bay when the Tír Sáile was created during the 1990s.
Ballycastle Baile an Chaisil “town of the castle”
WIth it’s northern boundary exposed to the Wild Atlantic Ballycastle has a striking location. To the west of the town are the Stags of Broadhaven, to the east lies Killala Bay. Far to the south are the towns of Crossmolina and Ballina. It was at the nearby Céide Fields that the first settlers began to farm the slopes of the Behy/Glenurla hillside over 5000 years ago. Ballycastle is host to the annual Healyfest festival of music every August Bank Holiday weekend.
A The Sea Stack known as ‘Dún Briste’ (The Broken Fort) can be seen at Downpatrick Head just 3 miles north of Ballycastle. Records state that it was separated from the mainland in 1393 as a result of high seas and the people were taken off using ships ropes. According to one legend, a pagan chieftain, named Crom Dubh, lived there. He refused to listen to St. Patrick who tried to convert him to Christianity. St. Patrick hit the ground with his crozier and the stack was separated from the mainland, leaving Crom Dubh to die there. Another legend states that it was from here that St. Patrick sent the snakes of Ireland to their doom.
Sunday of the August Bank holiday weekend The Giro de Baile cycling event is held set against the stunning backdrop of the Wild Atlantic Way. The course sweeps through quiet country roads and takes in some challenging but short hills and breath-taking views. With rural Ireland’s typical quiet pace and very few cars, you can enjoy the spectacular scenery in peace. The event is open to a wide range of cyclists and abilities with 3 route options. 130km, 60km and 10km around the scenic coastline of North Mayo.
(holy heritage box)
The Doonfeeny Ogham Standing Stone can bee seen here. Standing nearly 7m tall and dating to the 5th century this stone guards the entrance to Doonfeeny graveyard along the R134. The second largest standing stone in Ireland it is believed to have been Christianised in the 6th or 7th century- the crosses carved onto it’s face. According to local sources, the stone aligns with clefts in neighbouring hills and solar positions.
The Céide Fields Ballycastle Achaidh Chéide “flat topped hill fields”
Downpatrick Head 3 miles north of Ballycastle village is a striking headland standing 126ft above the sea. From here, there are fantastic views of the Atlantic, the Staggs of Broadhaven to the west, and high cliffs along the shore. The small stone building at the top of Downpatrick Head was used as a lookout post during the Second World War. It is now used to view the many species of birds on ‘Dún Briste’.
The ruins of a church, a holy well, and a stone cross mark the site of an earlier church founded by St. Patrick. Pilgrims visited Downpatrick Head on the last Sunday of July – ‘Garland Sunday’. Mass is now celebrated on Downpatrick Head on this day. The old statue of St. Patrick was erected here in 1912 and this was replaced by a new statue in the early 1980s.
Here also, you see the spectacular blow-hole known as ‘Poll na Seantainne’ with subterranean channel to the sea, where 25 men lost their lives in the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion. They are said to have taken refuge on the ledge at the bottom, and the tide came in before the ladder could be replaced.
Killala Cill Ala
Killala was the site of the first battle of the French force of General Humbert in the 1798 Rebellion, which landed at nearby Kilcummin Harbour and quickly seized the town. The town was also the site of the last land battle of the rebellion on 23 September 1798 when the British army defeated a rebel Irish force in Killala. Killala was used as the major location for the 1981 multi-million-pound television series “The Year of the French” (based on the novel by Thomas Flanagan).
Killala is a historic town with an important monastic heritage. Here St. Patrick placed his disciple St. Muredach over the church called in Irish Cell Alaid. In a well that still flows close to the town, beside the sea, local legend tells that Patrick baptized in a single day 12,000 converts, and on the same occasion, in presence of the crowds, raised to life a dead woman whom he also baptized. Muredach is described as an old man of Patrick’s family, and was appointed to the Church of Killala as early as 442 or 443. His feast-day is on 12 August. A lonely island in Donegal Bay has ever since borne his name, Inishmurray.
Ballina Béal an Átha “mouth of the ford”
Capital city of the Mayo region, Ballina boasts a fabulous fishing river, The Moy, where an annual festival attracts visitors from across the globe. Former Irish soccer manager Jack Charlton brought this gem of a town to popular attention. A famous daughter of the town is Human Right’s campaigner and former Irish President Mary Robinson.
Nestled between two mountain ranges, the Ox mountains to the east and the Nephin Beag to the left, Ballina is a gateway to the vast plains and vivid scenery of the North Mayo region.
The town was built on the site of an Augustinian Friary founded in 1375.
French General Humbert marched with an army of soldiers from Killala Bay on 23rd August 1798 to assist Irish rebels. The French met with some success in the Battle of Castlebar and declared a “Republic of Connaught” with hopes of taking Dublin. Defeat followed however, at the Battle of Ballinamuck where Humbert was taken prisoner of war by the Kingdom of Britain. Humbert led a lively military service going on to serve in the second battle of Zurich – behind France’s ideals of an end to Monarchy and a rise of Meritocracy. Revolutionary activities in Mexico and Buenos Aires followed. Finally Humbert settled in New Orleans and lived out a quiet life as a school teacher.
Inishcrone Enniscrone Inis Crabhan/Inis Eascair Abhainn
“Island on the sandbank of the river”
Enniscrone’s public sandy beach stretches over a long area of shoreline. It is split near the lower part of the village by a small crossable river, two hotels and a variety of B&B’s.
The ‘Valley of Diamonds’ is one of the hidden attractions along the beach; it is the largest of volcano-like compositions among the long-grassed sand dunes, the inside of which is a mostly sandy circle-like valley, it is located near the end of the beach.
Here you can experience the benefits of a seaweed bath at Kilcullen Seaweed baths. The unpolluted waters of the Atlantic are pumped in from the shore and mixed with the bounty of seaweed’s luscious oils to create a fabulous rejuvenation.
Easky Iascaigh “abounding in fish”
the Easky River that lies adjacent to the village itself.
Easky has an ancient heritage being part of the barony of Tireragh. Tireragh is a corruption of Tír Fhíacrach Múaidhe in Irish, which means “the land of Fiachra of the Moy.” This tuath was founded by the Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe, who were, themselves, a branch of the Uí Fiachrach dynasty of Connachta.
At the centre of the village is an Abbey and graveyard that dates to Medieval times where you can view many uniquely designed tombstones.
Outside the village, in the townland of Kileenduff you can visit an ancient Ice Age boulder known locally as the “Split Rock.” According to local folklore, the rock was split as a result of an argument between two giants on the Slieve Gamph mountains (Ox Mountains), one of whom was Fionn MacCumhaill. Legend has it that the rock will close if one walks through the rock 3 times.
A popular surfing destination you can visit the Irish Surfing Association headquarters and Information Centre here on Main Street. The Easky river is a fabulous place for kayaking. In 2003, Easky hosted the World Surf Kayaking Championships.
Dromore West An Droim Mór Thiar
Situated on the Dunneil River, Dromore West sits between the Ox Mountains and the Atlantic coast. There is an annual festival held here each August bank holiday weekend.
Inishmurray Inis Muireadheach “Muireadheach’s island”
7 km off the coast of County Sligo. There are remains of an early Irish monastic settlement. Laisrén (Saint Molaise) Mac Decláin reputedly founded a monastery here in the 6th century. He was confessor of Saint Columba after the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne on the mainland nearby. His feast day is the 12 August. The island’s ecclesiastical settlement was attacked in 807 by the Vikings.
Strandhill (also known as Larass “an Leathros”)
Strandhill faces the wild Atlantic at the western base of Knocknarea on the Cúil Irra peninsula, 5 miles west of Sligo town. Strandhill’s surrounding areas include the mountain of Knocknarea, Coney Island, Culleenamore beach, and Dorrins Strand. Much of the terrain consists of marram grass– covered sand dunes.
Drumcliff Droim Chliabh, meaning “ridge of the baskets”
Drumcliff you find the burial place of poet and Nobel laureate W. B. Yeats(1865–1939) buried in the graveyard of St. Columba’s Church of Ireland church.
While Yeats died in in January 1939 at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, his remains were brought home to Ireland by the Irish Naval Service and re-interred at Drumcliff in 1948.
]His epitaph reads:
“Cast a cold eye
On life on death
Horseman, pass by”
Drumcliff sits on the river which bears its name but was originally called the “Codnach”, which drains Glencar lake.The name Codnach means chief or princely river. The old name of Drumcliff was Cnoc na Teagh. The village is one of several possible locations in Co. Sligo for the settlement of Nagnata as marked on Claudius Ptolemy’s early map of Ireland.
St. Colmcille founded a monastery in Drumcliff in about 575. St. Mothorian was the first abbot here.
Grange An Ghráinseach, meaning “The Granary”
You can see three Armada wrecks and a salt water lagoon that is an area of Special Conservation in Streedagh the townland near Grange . Streedagh strand is also a popular surfing destination.
Mullaghmore An Mullach Mór, meaning “the great summit”
Mullaghmore is a noted holiday destination, characterised by ocean views and a skyline dominated by the monolithic shape of mythical Ben Bulben mountain.
On 8 March 2012, surfers and windsurfers from all over the world rode waves up to 15 metres (49 ft) high off Mullaghmore head in one of the best big wave surfing locations in the world.
Bundoran Bun Dobhráin “The foot of the little water”
Bundoran town is a popular seaside resort where tourism has been at the heart of the local economy since 1777. A world-renowned surfing area, Bundoran was listed by National Geographic magazine in 2012 as one of the World’s Top 20 Surf Towns.
(Friend of the Sea) on the tidal sandbanks of Magheraclogher beach.