Eye on Mayo – There’s nothing “Quiet” like it!

Pic: Ireland's Content Pool

Known worldwide for the village of Cong of ‘The Quiet Man’ fame, its Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage and Knock Shrine, Westport House, stunning views and not forgetting Grace O’Malley, Connacht’s second-biggest county has lots more on offer than you might know about.

In every part of this county there are extensive accommodation options. With traditional B&B style houses, boutique hotels, caravan, camping, hostels, self-catering houses, there’s even a hobbit hut option if that’s your thing!
If hotels are your preference when vacationing, just for it’s exquisite views, warm hospitality and excellent food alone you would be ill-advised to visit Mayo and pass up the opportunity of staying in the Mulranny Park Hotel.
Located on the Great Western Greenway in the most scenic section of the route and the perfect cycling and walking holiday base, the Mulranny Park Hotel is only a few steps away from the sand and sea of the beautiful Mulranny Beach which has been awarded the coveted blue flag and is ideal for family breaks.
Uniquely located on the Wild Atlantic Way, and recently awarded in the Top 100 Places to Stay, it is as equally appealing for couples as it is for golden years getaways. The magic of the Mulranny Park Hotel is that you don’t even have to leave the grounds to achieve the relaxation you’ve been looking for.

Breathtaking views of Clew Bay and Westport

Submerge yourself in the 20-metre swimming pool and enjoy the jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, plunge pool and fully equipped gymnasium while their 41 rooms and 19 sea view apartment suites offer exceptional comfort and relaxation. Dining options at Mulranny Park Hotel are exceptional and weather permitting a drink on the hotel terrace overlooking breathtaking views is a must to make the most of the stunning views of Clew Bay and Westport.
For those of you who prefer a self-catering option ‘The Old Beach Cottage’ or it’s sister property ‘The Old Fisherman’s Cottage’ are a real treat. Located on beautiful Achill Island, the Old Beach Cottage – a traditional Irish cottage has stood there for over 200 years inspiring artists, writers and lovers alike.
Situated in the most enviable position, as close to the stunning Dugort beach as is possible, The Old Beach Cottage is the place where dreams are made! Likewise with The Old Fisherman’s Cottage, peace, tranquility and solitude sum up the feel of this charming and traditional Irish island cottage.
Ideal as a romantic hideaway for two, a family holiday home or a stylish getaway for friends, with it’s stylish and elegant interior; a stove warms the living room, with its welcoming glow you will never want to leave.
Here you will have the whole cottage and grounds for your own personal use (you’ll usually have the whole beach to yourself too).

For the activity enthusiast!

Getting active outdoors is one thing you will not be short of ideas on in Mayo. It would be remiss of us not to mention the Mayo Greenway which is well worth experiencing.
Escape the bustle of urban life on this 42km Great Western Greenway, the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland.
Meandering the Greenway you’ll be surrounded by idyllic countryside. This is your chance to drink in the view of the spectacular Nephin Beg Mountain range and across Clew Bay to Croagh Patrick.
You could even take a break on Mulranny’s Blue Flag Beach or if you’re a history lover you can visit fascinating gems like the seven-arch bridge over the Black Oak river in Newport, Granuaile’s Rockfleet Castle and the 15th century Burrishoole Abbey.

The magnificent Westport House & Gardens has a lot to offer! Apart from the house itself and the caravan and camping facilites, the Pirate Adventure Park onsite offers rides such as the Cannonball Run Slide, Pirates Swinging Ship and Pirates Plunge Log Flume Ride, Novelty Swan Pedaloe Boats on the lake, Bouncy Castles or why not take a ride on the miniature railway – The Westport House Express. There’s also Pitch & Putt, tennis, table-tennis & fishing, plus lots more!

Just outside Castlebar is the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. Discover the story of Irish country life between 1850 and 1950; a history which older visitors will remember clearly and enjoy reminiscing on. Suitable for all ages, the Museum is a must-see attraction for everyone’s list, presented in an engaging and interactive manner – not a dusty boring display in sight! Exhibits include original artefacts and displays, captivating archival video footage and interactive screens, the hand operated machinery our grandparents used and even a life size blacksmith’s forge attracting scores of goggle-eyed children.

Between dodging the sheep and the windy, cliff-side roads it’s a heart-stopping drive but one that’s well worth it from Achill Island to Keem Bay. Achill itself and the drive to Keem Bay is just full of natural beauty, with it’s rugged coastline, jaw-dropping views and sheep everywhere! – it’s an area of the county that just keeps on giving at every turn.
For the true activity lover, there are numerous kayaking, snorkelling, diving, surfing and supping options on offer! However, the climb up Croagh Patrick tops them all.

Nicknamed ‘The Reek’ Croagh Patrick overlooks Clew Bay, Co, Mayo. Named the holiest mountain in Ireland, each year it attracts about 1 million pilgrims.
The sense of achievement when you reach the top is immense, after you’ve spent a few hours battling your way to the top and encouraging fellow climbers along the way make sure and take good time at the top to recoup and take in the stunning view over Clew Bay.

Finally, we have to mention Cong. This delightful village on the north eastern shore of Lough Corrib is most famous as the setting for the film ‘The Quiet Man’, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
Of course the various locations associated with the film are great photo opportunities but among the other places to visit here are the 12th century Cong Abbey, Ashford Castle, Cong Wood and of course the villagers remember the making of the film as a momentous event which brought world-wide attention to their walled fields and old-fashioned pubs, well worth a chat!

Let’s go Shopping!

Clothing names like Portwest, Carraig Donn and Foxford are known worldwide but did you know they were all founded in Mayo and still headquartered there?
Each of the town’s in Mayo have a unique offering from modern shopping centres to traditional stores, galleries, craft stores, woolen shops, quirky antique shops, the list goes on!
Foxford Woolen Mills & Visitor Centre is a tale in itself. Through a guided tour visitors are given a background to the Mill, why it was set up in Foxford in 1892, the challenges that were faced and how they were overcome.
The story of the Mills is a fascinating tale of one woman’s incredible determination and triumph over adversity. The story will make you marvel at the journey this small town took, right up to the present day, where you can see the working mills still producing the best of Irish-made products. Throws, blankets, scarves & accessories, baby blankets and rugs, furnishing fabrics, all woven there.

Pic: Ireland’s Content Pool

Horkans Garden and Lifestyle Centre has now grown from humble beginnings to a 10-acre site in Turlough, 8km from Castlebar as well as three other stores in Wicklow, Galway and Sligo.
This wonderland of colour is well worth a visit even if gardening isn’t your thing! It’s so much more than just about the garden – the scope of the stores has changed too, with much more emphasis on lifestyle, everything from garden furniture and gifts to clothing and kitchenware as well as top class plants and horticultural products.
One thing that hasn’t changed though, is through three generations, the love the Horkan family and their enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff have for what they do; their passion and their determination to give the very best service and advice.

Food from the Land and Sea

Food and food producers are in such abundance in Mayo that they have developed the ‘Gourmet Greenway’ to showcase the wonderful artisan food in the vicinities of Mulranny, Newport, Westport and Achill. With the Great Western Greenway as its backdrop, the Gourmet Greenway matches stunning scenery with simply delicious food.
Us Irish love a cupán tae and where better to enjoy yours with a friendly chat than ‘An cupán Tae’! This quintessentially Gatsby-esque setting on Westport’s Bridge Street serves afternoon tea, breakfast, lunch, and scrumptious sweets along with their bespoke loose-leaf teas, served in the finest of china. Enjoy over 50 varieties of teas, each sourced by their master tea expert, experience the true essence of luxury while indulging in a premium high tea service, where inhibitions become an afterthought and sumptuousness becomes the norm.
The elegance and splendour of the Library Restaurant at Belleek Castle in the setting of a 19th Century Manor House is the perfect place to experience a steak like none other in the West!
Having won several awards their signature dish “The Drunken Bullock” – a fillet of beef flambéed in Jameson whiskey on an antique sword not only looks the part but tastes great too!

Last but not least of our favourite food and drink choices is the Connacht Whiskey Tour – Voted No. 1 on Tripadvisor, it is the result of a dream shared by four men, three Americans and one Irishman, to bring single malt pot still Irish whiskey back to the West of Ireland after an absence of over 100 years.  
Sitting on the banks of the beautiful River Moy where the river widens into the Moy Estuary in Ballina, County Mayo, they distill and barrel-age their spirits in a rural, coastal environment unique to the West of Ireland.
Sharing their love of Irish whiskey with visitors, guided distillery tours bring you through the process of making whiskey in a small and interactive group session, so that you can really enjoy the experience without feeling rushed.

Dance the night away!

Theatres, Arts Centres and Event Centres in the area provide a host of live music shows, dramas and varied scenes of entertainment in Mayo. Every week during the summer months you will find festivals in Mayo.
You certainly won’t be stuck trying to find somewhere for a pint while visiting the West’s colourful and scenic county. Two stand out pubs not to be missed on your travels are Matt Molloy’s and Moran’s – both located on the colourful, Bridge Street, Westport.
The name Matt Molloy might ring a bell! Matt of the Chieftains fame bought his name-sake pub in the late 1980s. With live traditional music seven nights a week, in the course of their innumerable world tours, he and the illustrious Chieftains have brought its name to a vast and varied audience, along with a taste of the traditional music that flows from it – dark, deep and unpasteurised, like its pints, it is not surprising that Matt Molloy’s bar overflows all year with visitors – from the bewitched to the baffled – from all seven continents. Thousands more who haven’t made it to the door, have bought the cd, music from Matt Molloy’s, produced by real world records.
The pub manages to keep the sense of intimacy which is vital for the music to flourish. Knowing that traditional musicians, like starlings, prefer cosy nooks and crannies, Matt has purposely kept the pub small, so that they can congregate – as they do, to enjoy a pint and a tune. If he’s not on tour matt joins in the session, and if you have been dazzled by his flute playing with the Chieftains, you can sit down here for the price of a pint and hear the same music more electrifyingly pure, more hair-raisingly personal.

On the same street, is ‘Moran’s Bar & Grocer’.. This appealing and curious pub had its start as many of the rural pubs in Ireland did: as a grocery store. Selling food and drink to take home in the front (along with a few seats for pints) and mostly drink in the back, a sign on the wall reads – “In the interest of all our customers we do not tolerate the following: No bad or insulting language, No roaring and shouting, No singing and No bad behaviour. Any customer who partakes in the above will be asked to leave!”…. however don’t be fooled! You could easily pass the night away here in this cosy spot, the pub pulls a fantastic pint of Guinness, and you can enjoy the chat with friends, bartenders and locals alike – generously sharing information about the area and entertaining with stories and chit-chat about local events and the like.
The large collection of parap-hernalia draped over the walls lends itself well to football fans. These are the moments you remember from a trip somewhere: a quality drink, a bar wrought with history, a friendly local shooting the breeze. Simple connections and simple pleasures in life that sometimes get lost in the shuffle of busy days.