The word Mayo derives from the Irish word Maigh Eo - the plain of the yew trees. County Mayo is the third largest county in Ireland. Located in the West Of Ireland in the province of Connaught, Mayo boasts dramatic scenery, sandy beaches and hundreds of island and lakes that provide an abundance of unspoiled beauty. Mayo has Knock Airport just a 55 minute drive so why not hire a car at Knock Airport and explore the beautiful county of Mayo.
The west of Ireland is home to some of Ireland's top links courses, including the internationally renowned Westport Golf Club. Westport town itself a previous Tidy Town winner, a lively town where you will find music and craic in many of its pubs. Westport town in Summer time is picturesque, with its lovely stone bridges, and flower and tree lined streets beside the River Carrowbed, it is a well visited tourist stop off point with lots to do and see and with the beautiful bay of Clew Bay a short distance from the town. Clew Bay with its many small little islands, where you can enjoy any number of water sports, along with fishing and swimming in one of its many inlets, bays or one if its Blue Flag Beaches in Mayo such as Bertra, Carrowmore, Clare Island. Visit Clew Bay Heritage Centre in Westport which documents the history and archaeology of County Mayo and the Irish Clans of Mayo.
Achill Island off the coast of County Mayo is a fabulous place to get away from it all in Ireland, the peace and beauty found here at any time of year is stunning. It is easy to see why so many artists, photographers, and writters are drawn to Achill Island. Be it driving around Achill or cycling or just enjoying a walk on the beach, you will be sucked into its beauty. Achill has numerous Blue Flag beaches to be proud of from Trawmore Strand, Dooega Beach, Doogort Beach, Keel, Keam and Golden Strand. You can enjoy some stunning coastal drives out by the breath taking Minaun Cliffs near Dookinella, and from Mulranny out the Currane Peninsula enjoy this Atlantic Drive, enjoy the views of Achill Sound. For the walkers and mountain climbers Achill has much to offer such as the dramatic valley of Annagh or from Keem Strand head for Croaghaun mountain in Achill and pass Lough Acorrymore on the way or take the Great Western Greenway walk way a 12 mile track for walkers and cyclists, which takes the route of the old Westport to Achill railway line and more, starting at Achill, onto Mulranny, Newport and finishing in Westport. Achill is steeped in history with the Deserted Village in Slievemore, where there are 80 odd old stone cottages, and megalitic tombs here. Kildavnet Tower is an example of a 15th century Irish tower house. The Céide Fields in Ballycastle, Co Mayo, with views out over the Atlantic Ocean, are the oldest known stone walled fields in the world, which once discovered during bog cutting, were then mapped out to clearly show the layout of the fields which once were cultivated by our ancestors during the Stone Age and also found were tombs and house remains.
Croagh Patrick: is situated five miles from the picturesque town of Westport. It is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Ireland's national apostle, Saint Patrick. It is here where Saint Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. Every year people travel from all over the world to climb Croagh Patricks summit, not only for religious purposes but also for the spectacular scenery. Magnificent views of Clew Bay and the surrounding south Mayo countryside are to be had from all stages of the ascent of the mountain. At the base of Croagh Patrick mountain is 'The Croagh Patrick Information Centre' giving details of the discovery of Christian activity here, close to the Centre also is 'The Famine Monument' which depicts a Coffin Ship from the Famine times.
Mayo's other famous religious site is Knock, which is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year, a site where the apparition of Our Lady, St Joseph, and St John the Evangelist appeared to several people in 1879 and so became an recognised Marian Shrine, visited by Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Knock Museum on site tells the story of the apparition also on the Shrine grounds are to be found five churches including the church where the apparition was seen, all set on beautiful gardens, with lots of facilities for pilgrims and including a hotel and a Rest and Day Care Centre for the sick visiting Knock Shrine. Knock Shrine is less than 20 minutes drive from Knock Airport.
The lake district of Ireland, Cong is known for its fishing, historical sites and for being the backdrop to the classic movie, The Quiet Man. The 12th century Augustinian Abbey is one of the finest examples of early architecture in Ireland and a must-see for its stone carving and original features. Ashford Castle gives you the chance to explore its lush interiors, luxury spa or extensive grounds, with horse riding, lake fishing on Lough Corrib and golf all available. The school of falconry in the grounds of the castle will delight all ages (7+), with hawk walks and falconry lessons, for a fascinating insight into these stunning creatures. Walks are in abundance, for all ages and abilities, with mountain, woodland and lake scenery. And for fans of the silver screen, visit Quiet Man Cottage Museum for a fully immersive experience. Ask in the café for the key to Kelly Cave and investigate the natural karst formation.
Known for its excellent fishing, this limestone lake is the middle of three that empty into the River Corrib. Tourmakeady, between the lake and the Partry mountains, offers spectacular walks, a natural waterfall and woodlands to explore.
A heritage town with a working harbour, Westport is also known for its excellent food and spectacular local scenery. Create magical family memories at Westport House, a beautiful historic house, campsite and pirate adventure park; take a swan boat on the lake, ride the log flume and eat under stars! From the harbour you can purchase local crafts, hire a boat for a cruise or fishing trip, and enjoy the bustling nightlife and fine fresh seafood. Older kids will love the outdoor skate park, and for a rainy day with youngsters, check out the Wild West Indoor Play Village with its soft play area and host of activities. Five miles (8km) out of town, Croagh Patrick overlooking Clew Bay, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland and has been the route for pilgrimages for over 5000 years. The Clew Bay Trail is 35km long, with rock art from the megalithic age and the home of Ireland’s pirate queen, the trail boasts 21 archaeological and heritage sites to explore. If you love beaches, there are several blue flag coastlines nearby including Berta (12km west), Old Head (16km west) and Carrowmore (25km west).
A bustling market town, the centre is only minutes walk from beautiful Lough Lannagh with a lovely lakeside walk and play area. You can also take a stroll around the Peace Park, commemorating all the people who served and died in the major conflicts over the past 100 years. On a rainy day, swim indoors at the local swimming complex, or try your hand at pool or bowling in the Leisure Point. At night, check out the locals pubs for some live music, or catch a show at The Royal Theatre or Linen Hall Arts Centre. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the annual International Four Days Walks festivals and for music aficionados, the Guinness Castlebar Blues Festival is a must-visit. There’s also a 22-mile cycling tour around the town starting from New Antrim Street, where you can hire a bike. Just outside in the pretty village of Turlough, you can visit one of the area’s best-preserved Round Towers.
A beautiful heritage town on the shores of Clew Bay, once frequented by Grace O’Mally, the pirate queen, Newport’s harbour is a draw for all types of fishing fanatics, as well as stand up paddling. There is also a fishery in the freshwater loughs. Numerous walks and cycling routes can be easily accessed in and around the town. Meanwhile, for shopping and food, the main street has everything you could need, as well as boasting a 19th century red sandstone arch. Visit the ancestral home of the Princess of Monaco, and head up to St Patrick’s church to see one of the best examples of stained glass designed by renowned artist Harry Clarke.
An island of mountains and peat bogs, tall cliffs and lovely beaches, Achill Island is accessible by road from the mainland or by boat from nearby Clare Island. Walking trails, fly-fishing, cycling, and diving are just some of the many activities available. There’s also yoga, surfing, and orienteering, or for a more relaxing experience, try the natural seaweed baths. Enjoy the Atlantic drive spanning 40km, visiting blue flag beaches, the 16th century tower at Kildavet, home to Grace O’Malley, pirate queen, and the deserted village of Slievemore – perfect by car or on bike. The strand at Keem Bay has inspired many writers including Graham Greene and Heinrich Boll, while the island was home to artist Paul Henry and a favourite of Robert Henri for holidaying. There is still a thriving arts and crafts scene, as well as plenty of live music. Local produce includes sea salt and Achill Beer from the Achill Island Brewery made with natural mountain lake water and carrageen moss.
A coastal Gaeltacht town, the surrounding area is peaceful, unhurried and stress free. Combined with the stunning views and easy access to the ocean, this is a haven for outdoor sports, families who enjoy nature and couples wanting a romantic hideaway. Popular in the summer with people learning Irish, as well as those seeking blue flag beaches, it is a scenic stop year round and provides access to the Iniskea islands, home to large numbers of grey seal.
The largest town in Mayo, Ballina sits on the River Moy between two mountain ranges, with plenty of adventure, heritage and culture to interest all ages. St Muredach's Cathedral looms over the river, while the ruins of Moyne Abbey and Rosserk Friary to the west are stunning national monuments worth visiting, Every July, there is a week-long family festival of free events, including music, theatre, art, food, culture and more. Also known for its fishing, this was a favourite angling spot for soccer manager, Jack Charlton! Head out to Ballycastle and visit the 5000-year-old Ceide fields, one of the oldest farm field systems in the world with a multi-award winning centre consisting of exhibitions, audio-visual shows and tearooms – you can even take a guided tour and use a centuries old method of probing to find your own buried wall!