What to do and see in North Mayo

We took a trip along the North Mayo coastline to visit amongst others, Downpatrick Head and the Ceide Fields and were left pleasantly surprised with how stunning this part of Ireland is.

Killala village

Our first stop was Killala, a quaint seaside village. Killala was the scene of the last major engagement in the 1798 rebellion. The Irish rebels, helped by the French, held onto Killala for 32 days but on the 33rd day, after 20 minutes of fierce fighting 600 Irish troops were killed and the rebellion was effectively finished.

Within a small area of the village there’s a round tower, an old deanery, a Church of Ireland cathedral and the area has an old world feel to it.

Mayo village
Killala village in Mayo

Downpatrick Head

As I was browsing through our Wild Atlantic Way passport I noticed that Downpatrick Head was featured and after a quick google realised that it was along the route to the Ceide Fields.

A nice bit of luck especially given it was the highlight of our trip that day.

Downpatrick Head
Dun Briste, Mayo

Dun Briste is a 50 metre sea stack that sits 80 metres off Downpatrick Head.

St. Patrick founded a church at Downpatrick Head and legend has it that Dun Briste was caused by the man himself. He was so angered by a local Chieftain who wouldn’t convert to Christianity he struck the ground with his crozier causing a piece of the land to break away from the mainland.

St.Patrick also drove all the snakes out of Ireland – is there anything this guy couldn’t do?!!

A more logical explanation for Dun Briste is that it was caused by a storm in the 14th century with the inhabitants saved by ropes from the mainland.

Other points of interest here include a blowhole where rebels in the 1798 Rebellion hid out as they were being pursued by soldiers, but unfortunately a high tide swept the rebels away.

A Lookout Post used during World War II and also the large Eire 64 sign from 1942-43 which was used to inform pilots they were flying over Irish territory.

Downpatrick Head is simply stunning and gives the Cliffs of Moher a good run for its money. It’s not flooded with tourists and parking is free – take that Cliffs of Moher!!

We next drove the short but very scenic journey to Ceide Fields.

Ceide Fields

Ceide Fields is a Neolithic site and contains the most extensive field systems in the world. It’s well worth doing the tour as it really helps to explain the significance of the site.

North Mayo
Ceide Fields, Mayo

The visitor centre has a futuristic pyramid shape design which blends in well with the landscape.

Across the road from the visitor centre is a viewing point where you can view some of the spectacular Mayo coastline and cliffs and also see as far as Downpatrick Head.

Blacksod 

We also drove the Mullet peninsula and visited several of the many sandy beaches along this scenic coastline and stopped at Blacksod Harbour with it’s picturesque lighthouse which was built in 1864 of local granite blocks and has an unusual square design and a connection to world events.

In June 1944, under an agreement with Britain, Ireland although neutral during World War II, continued to send weather reports.  The local lighthouse keeper Ted Sweeney sent the daily forecast which predicted stormy weather, unbeknownst to Ted, his report was used by General Eisenhower and Winston Churchill to delay the D-Day landing until the storm had passed.

Fishing boats in Blacksod Harbour
Blacksod harbour, county Mayo, Ireland
Blacksod Lighthouse
Blacksod Lighthouse in Mayo

Mayo is a large county and if you are planning a visit it’s worth staying a few days as there are lots of things to do and see, check out this blog post on west Mayo.

Background Sources:

OPW sites - http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/

Buildings of Ireland - http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/

Failte Ireland http://www.failteireland.ie/

WAW - https://www.wildatlanticway.com

Exploring Mayo

We spent three days in Westport in county Mayo in the west of Ireland.  Westport is a lively town with a great atmosphere and lots of things to do.

Croagh patrick

On the first day we climbed Croagh Patrick mountain, which is located about 10 kilometres outside of Westport.  There are great views from the top of Clew bay. The weather can turn as we found out, heavy rain and gale force winds! so wear lots of layers, even in Summertime.

#croaghpatrick #Wesport #nature #mountain #CoMayo #Ireland #LovingIreland @insta_ireland

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The second day, in the morning, we drove out to Achill Island and drove around the island, taking in the beautiful views of the wild Atlantic coast.

 

wESTPORT

In the afternoon we strolled around Westport town, which is a heritage town. The town was built in the 1780’s in a Georgian architectural style, for the workers and tenants on the John Browne estate, the Marquis of Sligo.  The town has lots of lovely old buildings and a riverside Mall walk.

 

 

Mayo Greenway

On the third day, we hired bikes and cycled from Westport to Newport and back again on the Mayo Great Western Greenway cycle route, which was 22 kilometres in total.  From Newport, you can cycle onto Mulranny which is another 18 kilometres and from there to Achill Island which is another 13 kilometres.  The Greenway is 42 kilometres one way to Achill Island. There are several bike rental shops located in Westport, which offer handy shuttle services, they will drop you out to Achill Island, Mulranny or Newport and you can cycle back or you can depart from Westport and arrange to be collected from one of those locations.

We used regular bikes but if you haven’t cycled in many years, I recommend getting an electric bike, especially if you plan on cycling the full route, the route is mainly flat but there are some hills.

Dining out

We had dinner in JJ O’Malley’s bar & restaurant, the food was excellent here, I recommend the salmon fillet dish and also the Clock Tower restaurant.

For drinks we went to the famous Matt Molloys pub, which is owned by one of the Chieftains band.  The pub has a trad session every night. We also had drinks in MacBride’s pub, MJ. Hobans bar and The Porter house bar, which also host trad sessions.

Have you cycled the Mayo Greenway or climbed Croagh Patrick ? Let us know how you got on.

Click here to find out what to do and see in North Mayo.