The Murrisk Peninsula (in the south-west of County Mayo) is a barely touched natural beauty. Between Clew Bay (in the north) and Killary Harbour (in the south), the Murrisk area offers places to go wild and to relax on a lazy afternoon.
Strenuous hill walks, strolls on paradisiac beaches and a broad range of local history make the Murrisk Peninsula an enjoyable spot.
8. Clew Bay – for a postcard-worthy view
It is said that 365 smallish islands are spread throughout Clew Bay. The actual number is 117 and hence far away from the saying that there is an island for each day of the year. However, Clew Bay is a place of magic and Murrisk holds its fair share of this maritime beauty.
7. Granuaile Visitor Centre – for Mayo’s pirate queen
The former presence of Grace „Granuaile“ O’Malley, the famous 16th-century Mayo pirate queen, can be felt everywhere along the Murrisk coastline. Grace and her family lived and worked between Westport and Louisburgh and on Clare Island. Her life was tough as English suppression urged her to fight for her claims.
In times of the hardest struggles, she saw herself forced to visit Queen Elizabeth I in London and to demand better treatment. Many stories are told about Grace and her role as a reckless female leader, a successful trader and a courageous sailor who travelled as far as Spain. At Louisburgh the Granuaile Visitor Centre gives the visitor a very good impression of Grace O’Malley‘s life in the Murrisk area.
6. Croagh Patrick – Ireland’s holy mountain
Croagh Patrick is Ireland’s holy mountain and its iconic shape is the one landmark you can see from nearly everywhere on the Murrisk Peninsula. The steep and rocky ascent to the top of ‘The Reek’, as it is known by locals, is even for keen hillwalkers quite a challenge.
All the more impressive it is when each year on the last Sunday of July thousands of pilgrims attend for Reek Sunday and climb to the little church on its summit (764 m). Some of them just on their bare feet. By the way, the lower slopes of Croagh Patrick are a perfect spot for counting the islands of Clew Bay.
5. Murrisk Abbey – for a 15th-century abbey
The village of Murrisk is situated on the shores of Clew Bay and the mighty slopes of Croagh Patrick. The village is the home of the ruins of Murrisk Abbey which was built in the 15th century.
Lore says the abbey has been erected at the same spot where St. Patrick himself has founded an original church. Sadly Murrisk Abbey fell into decay after English Protestantism evicted all catholic priests and friars from their grounds. From today’s ruins, there is a great view of Croagh Patrick and the Murrisk village.
4. Old Head – for a sandy beach with breathtaking views
Only a few kilometres from Louisburgh the lower slopes of Old Head reach out for the waters of Clew Bay. From the sandy beach at the feet of Old Head fantastic views of Clew Bay and the towering Croagh Patrick can be enjoyed.
A short walk through a small forest area brings you from the beach to the top of Old Head, down again to the cliffs above the waters and back to the seafront. The views from the small summit of Old Head and from the cliffs below are well worth this little sportive effort.
3. Mweelrea – for outdoor enthusiasts
Mweelrea is the County highpoint of Mayo and the highest mountain of Connacht. While this is a most desirable target for hillwalkers Mweelrea is also one of the most complex mountain terrains. To reach its summit at 814 m is a real challenge for everyone involved in the hill sports.
2. Aasleagh Falls – for a majestic waterfall
One of the most southern spots of the Murrisk Peninsula is the townland of Aasleagh. Here, at the border between Mayo and Galway, the river Erriff tumbles over a low rocky edge to form the Aasleagh Falls before he continues his way to the Killary Harbour.
The river Erriff is a haven for salmon and well-known for fly-fishing. So whether you fancy a relaxing time at the rushing water or if you would like to catch your own dinner, the waterfall at Aasleagh is the perfect place for you.
1. Doolough Valley – for utter awe
The Doolough Valley on the Murrisk Peninsula is a scenic area that can compete with any outstanding place in Ireland. Its secluded location in the middle of impressively high mountains and the calmness of its deep and beautiful loughs are spiritual fuel for everybody dreaming of the perfect Irish landscape.
While the natural beauty of the Doolough Valley inspires the mind, the valley also bears the marks of a sad story. The Famine Valley, as what the place is also known as, tells the story of eight persons who died from hunger in 1849 while they were on their way to the Delphi Lodge at the far end of the valley.
Today, a memorial beside the valley road makes you stop for a minute and remember the lives that where lost. However, the Doolough Valley in County Mayo tops the list of the most beautiful places on the Murrisk peninsula you must see before you die.