Explore Mayo

Local hospitality
Mayo fishing village

Áine Ryan of Mayo Tourism writes that "over the millennia there have been Neolithic farmers, Celtic cattlemen, Christian cultivators, pirate queens, rebel leaders, social innovators, visionaries ...."

And somehow, as you are exploring this remote county in the far west of Ireland you can feel the history of the place, and the presence of such strong charismatic characters as Saint Patrick himself, the indominitable Grace O’Malley, Connaught’s 16th century fiery pirate queen, Wolfe Tone of the United Irishmen and Michael Davitt: co-founder of the Land League. It has been said that Mayo is one of the last bastions of Irish culture - it is alive and well here.

A local Belderrig school teacher was cutting his turf in the 1930's and came upon some ancient stone walls metres under the blanket bog. His son, Seamas, went on to become an archaeologist and discovered the most extensive Stone Age settlement in the world : the Céide Fields - older even than the Egyptian Pyramids. We are treated to a half day with Seamas Caulfield, Professor Emeritas, who is passionate about his native townland of Belderrig, here on the dramatic coast of North Mayo. You will be captivated by his generosity of spirit and incredible knowledge about the history of this locality and his deep connection to it.

We walk in the Nephin Range, inland from Enniscoe and along the wild cliffs west of the Céide Fields. Historic Killala Bay, where General Humbert and his French army landed to support an Irish rebellion, and a 12th century round tower looming over the heart of Killala village are must-visit evening outings for Connemara's Calling walkers.

On our way home to Galway, we stop for lunch at the Hungry Monk in Cong, just across the street from the 12th century Augustinian Abbey. Earlier in the day you visit the award winning National Museum of Country Life. This is an opportunity to experience age old traditions of rural life throughout Ireland from 1850-1950.

You arrive back, tired but elated, in the vibrant city of Galway, where the Arts Festival has just begun. This is truly a feast of Irish culture with the best of traditional music and theatre.