Ireland //

County Mayo


Far from pulling up at the county border, the wonderful mountain scenery found in Connemara marches on into the south of County Mayo (Maigh Eo), in the substantial shape of Mweelrea, the Sheefry Hills and the Partry Mountains. These ranges culminate in the conical peak of Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, beyond which change is announced by the trough of Clew Bay, the extension of a geological fault that runs all the way to the Scottish Highlands. Unless you’re beetling direct to Westport on the N59, two possible routes out of Connemara into south Mayo present themselves. You can detour east to the abbey town of Cong, right on the county border, sharing many similarities with Oughterard, to which it is linked by boat trips across Lough Corrib. Or you can forge through the heart of the mountains from Leenane to Louisburgh, which gives access to the charming islands of Inishturk and Clare at the mouth of Clew Bay. Either way, you’re almost certain to end up in Westport, a refined, lively, Georgian base, terminus of the railway line from Dublin and hub for local buses.

The county’s other main tourist centre is Achill at the northwest corner of Clew Bay, Ireland’s largest island and a popular resort. Beyond this, there’s mile after mile of wild, dramatic landscape, but only a few specific attractions: the stunning discovery of a Neolithic farm system at Céide Fields justifies a journey to the north coast if you have the time, while a short way east of Westport is the impressive National Museum of Country Life at Castlebar.

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