Walking Activities in North Mayo
Belleek Woods is situated along the banks of the river Moy directly across the water from the Quay village. It is one of the largest urban forests in Europe comprising of 200 acres of woodlands and trees up to 300 years old. It is a peaceful haven of up to 6 miles of natural forest pathways, two of which are along the banks of the River Moy.
It is an area of great tranquillity, peace and beauty where relaxation comes easy to the beat of lapping water of the Moy and rustling breezes among the great trees. An ideal place to explore the woodlands, bogs, scenery and the chance of seeing native wild life. Walkers can avail of the recently restored picnic area and relax and enjoy the view.
The Gate Lodge is located at Castle Road, Ballina and was the main entrance to the Estate. It once housed a family whose job was to open the gate at the Castle Road entrance to the Belleek estate. This massive ornate building of cut stone was occupied up until the fifties.
Belleek was originally the name given to Ballina, a seaport on the estuary of the river Moy. Belleek is now a townland. Sir Arther Knox-Gore built Belleek Manor in 1831 at a cost of €12,500. He died in 1873 and was buried in the ground of the dernesne in view of the Manor. This monument, a striking one, of cut stone and standing some 30ft.This monument, a striking one, of cut stone and standing some 30ft. high on the mound surrounded by a moat, was erected over his grave by his son Sir Charles. It is said that Sir Arthur's horses were buried with him.
After his death a member of the Becket family of Ballina who refurbished the Manor in the early forties, purchased the property.
It was subsequently sold to Mayo County Council as a woman's sanatorium in the fifties and the Department of Forestry and the Land Commission acquired most of the land. Jersy Island hotelier Marshal Durcan purchased the manor in the late fifties for the sum thought not to exceed €6500 and turned it into a hotel known today as Belleek Castle Hotel.