County Mayo

Westport which includes a river or creek
CountyMayo is on Ireland’s north-western edge and is one of theisland’s largest counties, although often ignored by tourists. With its ancienthistory, breathtaking scenery and excellent facilities, there’s every reason tovisit before the crowds arrive.

Heritage and History

People have lived inCounty Mayo for at least 10,000 years, withevidence of the earliest hunter-gatherers strewn around the county.Mayo has more than 160 megaliths and tombs, withmany clustered around Kilcommon, Achilland Ballyhaunis.The early Christians built towers and monasteries, many of which survive insome form at Aughagower, Killalaand Meelick.

The Normans arrived inthe 12th century and established churches and castles around the county,including RockfleetCastle near Newport, which was used as a base by the infamous piratequeen Grainne (Grace) O’Malley in the 16th century.Mayo was badly hit by the Great Famine in 1845 andthousands fled starvation to North America, Australia and New Zealand. As aresult, many people with Irish heritage trace their roots toCounty Mayo, and there are several genealogicalresources available for visitors.

Views and Scenery

Mayohas a huge variety of landscapes, with the bogs and mountains of BallycroyNational Park, half a dozen sizeable lakes and salmon-filled rivers,as well as the spectacular coastal cliffs along the Wild Atlantic Way. Ballycroyis home to the Nephinbeg Mountains, a green-topped wilderness of outstandingbeauty, and the Owenduff bog where geese, plover, grouse and otters live in thepeatlands.

Achill Island is theIreland’s largest island, where you can find the Croaghaun cliffs rising 2,257feet out of the sea – the second-highest cliffs in all Europe, from where youcan see dolphins, basking sharks and killer whales in the ocean below.

The waters of Lough Connfeed the river Moy, which teems with salmon, and the town of Ballinais famous for its salmon fishing and delicacies. There can be few more lovelyvillages than Cong, famous as the location for the John Wayne movie The QuietMan, where you can find the perfectly manicured Ashford Castle and intriguingunderground streams that connect Lough Mask to Lough Corrib. And no guide toCounty Mayo would be complete without a mention ofKnock,a small village with a Catholic shrine to Mary that attracts thousands ofpilgrims each year.

Sport andLeisure

There’s no shortage ofthings to do in County Mayo. The Irish are keen toshare their love of horses, with equestrian centres offering pony treks throughthe most scenic parts of the county. Cyclists have the Great Western Greenway,a 26-mile road reserved entirely for bicycles that traces the route fromWestport to Achill. The hills of Achill are perfect for hang-gliding andparagliding, and the wild Atlantic ocean is a great challenge for wind surfers.Surfers have several blue flag beaches around Achill and Louisburghto catch a wave. Golfers could play a round a day and still not complete all ofMayo’s courses in a fortnight, including thechampionship course in Ballinrobe. And if all that’s not enough, there’s thechance to catch a salmon at Ballina.

Shopping andEating

The towns of Castlebar– Mayo’s county town – Westport, Ballina andFoxford all have a great selection of shops, and other towns also have regularfarmers’ markets. Castlebar is the biggest town in CountyMayo and hosts festivals devoted to Irish culture, hillwalking,music and Grainne O’Malley.

Popular cities in County Mayo

Westport showing a river or creek
Known for Entertainment, Live music and Golf
Straddling the picturesque Carrowbeg River on the final stretch of its journey to Clew Bay on Ireland’s west coast, Westport boasts a beautiful Georgian town centre with a cosmopolitan array of multicoloured restaurants, shops and bars. Officially designated a Heritage Town, Westport is the jewel in Mayo’s brilliant green crown – but tear yourself away from the buzz of the centre and your choices multiply yet again.

Reasons to visit

  • Westport House
Cong Abbey featuring heritage architecture, heritage elements and a castle
Known for Historical, Castle and Recreation
Trip time! Discover the castle, history and golf in quaint Cong.

Reasons to visit

  • Cong Abbey
Achill Island
Achill Island
Known for Beach view, Poolside bars and Golf
Trip time! Discover the golf, parks and beaches in Achill Island.
Known for Friendly people, Dining and Poolside bars
The town of Ballina in the Republic of Ireland provides a diverse mix of countryside town and urban vivacity. Founded in the 18th century, Ballina’s population has remained small and today its location in the solitary County Mayo countryside has earned it a reputation as the perfect place for a beautiful rural getaway.
Known for Friendly people, Dining and Poolside bars
Escape to Castlebar! Enjoy its theatre, festivals and bars.
Known for Family-friendly, Temples and Monuments
Love temples, monuments and museums? Get away to Knock!