Mayo is widely recognised as one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties and for good reason! Here is our top 10 places you must visit in County Mayo.
10. Moyne Abbey
Moyne Abbey has to be one of most impressive ecclesiastical ruins in Mayo and it has been recognised as a National Monument. It was built by the Burke family and consecrated in 1462, it is located north of Ballina on the west side of Killala Bay. Like its neighbour, Rosserk Friary, it was burnt by Sir Richard Bingham, Elizabeth I of England’s governor of Connacht, in 1590 in reformationist zeal.
The friary was built in the late Irish Gothic style and has extensive ruins, consisting of a church and domestic buildings situated around a central cloister. Its west doorway is a seventeenth insertion. Its east window displays fine switchline tracery.
9. The Coffin Ship
This piece of art by John Behan is called “Coffin Ship”. It is an impressive monument showing a ship full of skeletons – a symbol to remember all the people who died on the ships to America when they wanted to escape Ireland’s potato famine in the 19th century. The monument was unveiled in 1997 to mark the 150th anniversary of the famine.
8. Achill Island
Achill Island is the largest island off the coast of Ireland, and is situated off the west coast. It has a small population of 2,700 in an area of 148 km2 (57 sq mi). Achill is absolutely beautiful and is attached to the mainland by Michael Davitt Bridge. This island is well worth a visit and is a worthy entry to the top 10 places to visit in County Mayo.
7. Famine Valley
The Doolough Valley is one of the most breautiful valleys in Ireland. This site draws some resemblance to Glendalough with its green hills on each side. The area is bogland which is uninhabited except for the intrepid sheep who seem quite content to have it to themselves. The bog grass has a beautiful reddish hue. Many small waterfalls flow down both sides of the valley. This is a beautiful site which can be hard to find but well worth the journey!
6. Clew Bay
Want to see an amazing island formation without having to travel to the Caribbean? Then go to Clew Bay. Clew Bay is a natural ocean bay in County Mayo which contains Ireland’s best example of sunken drumlins.
The bay is overlooked by the famous Croagh Patrick mountain to the south and the Nephin Range mountains of North Mayo. The view from above is absolutely sensational as you can see from the photo. It is deserving of a place on the top 10 places to see in County Mayo.
5. Keel Beach
Keel Beach is a beautiful beach, one of Mayo’s finest. It is quite popular with tourists and locals as a surfing location. If you are not into surfing, you can still enjoy the beautiful sand and excellent views. This is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s hidden gems and a worthy entry to the top 10.
4. Downpatrick Head
Just a few miles north of Ballycastle village in County Mayo is the windswept outcrop of Downpatrick Head. This is the perfect place to park up and stretch your legs with an invigorating coastal walk. The name Downpatrick is derived from a time when St Patrick himself founded a church here. You can still see the ruins of the church building, a stone cross and holy well here today.
This was once a popular pilgrim destination, and today the crowds still gather here on the last Sunday of July – known as Garland Sunday – to hear mass at this sacred site. The site has a statue close to the cliff edge dedicated to the patron saint. It is one of the most amazing places you can ever visit in Ireland.
3. Atlantic Drive on Achill Island
Achill Island occupies an area of some 57sq miles but its actual coastline – including all the inlets and spars – measures over 80 miles. In some places, the roads follow (generally) the shoreline and two particular stretches of road have been designated as Achill’s Atlantic Drive.
Taken together these two stretches of ‘Atlantic Drive’ provide a spectacular journey with breathtaking views and can be completed in a vehicle or (separately!) by bicycle or on foot. This drive is a must-do drive in County Mayo and a well-deserved place on the top 10.
2. Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick is a well-known mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo. You can find it 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. It is the third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin. If you visit, you will be joined by pilgrims who make the journey which Saint Patrick himself once did. Aside from the religious aspect, it is a beautiful mountain with awesome views!
1. Keem Bay
Keem Bay is an absolutely phenomenal site located past Dooagh village in the west of Achill Island in County Mayo. This bay was formerly the site of a basking shark fishery and a British army lookout post (to the bay’s south).
Keem Bay is a heavenly secluded valley at the very western tip of Achill Island. It is extremely popular during warmer months when the strand is a magnet for beach-goers and those interested in scenic walks. This place is our favourite spot in County Mayo.