“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag 

Whether you’re visiting or a local, here are some great ideas to help you get under the skin of North Mayo (and West Sligo too!)

Throughout 2020 we’re setting you a task; to get out and explore North Mayo. Here are 20 things to do in North Mayo in 2020!

1. Marvel at sea stack Dún Briste from Downpatrick Head …

…a Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point – and one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. Hear about the myths and legends surrounding St Patrick and chieftain Crom Dubh – and how the sea stack really came to be!

People admiring Dun Briste sea stack from the shore beneath Downpatrick Head. County Mayo, Ireland.

2. Trace Ireland’s history and see an original copy of the Irish Proclamation …

…narrated by Stephen Rea at Ballina’s Jackie Clarke Collection, one man’s astonishing collection of over 100,000 historic items spanning 400 years. It’s housed in the beautiful old Provincial Bank, an attraction in itself, and also boasts a Heritage Walled Garden.

Jackie Clarke Collection Ballina Co. Mayo

3. Don your hiking boots and head west to Lahardane via Crossmolina to climb Nephin …

… the second highest peak in Connacht. A new trailhead has recently been completed that will guide you to the top of this Mount Fuji-like conical mountain, from the peak of which it’s said you can see seven counties on a clear day.

Here you’ll find details of  local tour guides, should you wish to have someone experienced guide you to the top.

4. Go foraging with Denis Quinn of Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours in Killala.

Explore the natural heritage and culture of the North Mayo coast with Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours. Learn about sea plants, seafood, geology and ancient megalithic ruins. And at the end, you might even get to cook up your bounty!

Seafood foraging in Killala with Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours Foraging tours in North Mayo

5. SUP (Stand Up Paddle) your way up the River Moy …

…with Harbour Sup N Sail. This is something everyone can try, and it’s a really great way of seeing Ballina from an entirely different vantage point. If you#re feeling braver, you can attempt it in the sea at the Pier in neighbouring town Enniscrone.

Harbour sup stand up paddling ballina co. Mayo Ireland River Moy

6. Weave an unforgettable experience at Foxford Woollen Mills.

Enjoy an interactive journey through a turbulent and fascinating history with a guided tour of the oldest working mill in Ireland, shop til you drop and treat yourself to a delicious lunch in the recently refurbished Foxford Café, which, under the stewardship of accomplished chef Kathleen Flavin, prides itself on its delicious food, sourced locally.

Working mills and tour at Foxford Woollen Mills

7. See Mayo North differently, with a guide!

Cycle, trail run or hike through North Mayo on a bespoke tour with one of our local tour guides – try Rachel’s Irish Adventuresor take a very special tailored after-dark stargazing experience with Ged and Georgia at Terra Firma Ireland.

Terra Firma Ireland guided tours Mayo_opt

8. Visit the Michael Davitt Museum …

…housed in a magnificently restored pre-penal church in the village of Straide, near Foxford. Learn about this incredible character – one of Ireland’s most progressive social activists and founder of the Land League. This fascinating little museum is in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Museums in Ireland list, so is well worth a visit.

Photo: John Joyce

9. Immerse yourself in the arts …

… in The Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle or Ballina Arts Centre in the North Mayo capital. The brand new Museum of Contemporary Irish Art is due to open in Ballinglen in Spring 2020, while Ballina Arts Centre boasts a year-round programme of theatre, live music, dance, film, and more.

The Ballinglen Museum of Modern Art, Ballycastle Co. Mayo
The Ballinglen Museum of Art, Ballycastle Co. Mayo

10.  Surf the best waves in Enniscrone …

… with 7th Wave Surf School. Enniscrone’sjust across the border in Co. Sligo, a ten-minute drive from Ballina. Take surf lessons with Linda and team and find your balance on a board in the bracing Wild Atlantic. We promise you’ll never feel quite so alive!

Finish with a hot meal or warm cuppa in the bar of the Ocean Sands Hotel, overlooking this magnificent strand.

7th Wave Surf School Enniscrone Surf Camp

11. Visit the peaceful Father Peyton Centre in Attymass, …

…  learn about the incredible story of the world-famous Rosary Priest, and savour their famous home baking. It’s also a great base to explore this beautiful area on foot by taking on one of the beautiful Attymass walks.

Father Peyton Centre Attymass

12. Feed the ducks and explore the trails in Belleek Woods, Ballina …

… one of the largest urban woodlands in Europe. This magical woodland is full of treasures – an old lime kiln, an ice house, lots of monuments and even a few graves, not to mention miles and miles of trails to explore. Keep an eye out for the fairies!

Belleek Woods, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland

PS: When feeding the ducks, don’t give them bread – although they love it, it’s really bad for them! Try corn, lettuce and other greens (torn into pieces) defrosted frozen peas, Oats (rolled or instant) or seeds instead.

13. Drive the spectacular North Mayo coastline and follow ‘Tír Sáile‘ … 

… the North Mayo Sculpture Trail from Ballina to Belmullet. At the time, this public art project was commissioned to mark Mayo 5000, and was the largest of its kind in Ireland. It’s evolved since then, but the story behind the artworks, dotted across the North Mayo landscape, remains as fascinating as ever.

Tearmann na Gaoithe on the Tir Saile Sculpture Trail

Follow the map here.

14. Restore your wellbeing …

… with a relaxing and restorative treatment at Killala’s Biodynamic Clinic, overlooking the picturesque Quay in Killala.

Biodynamic Clinic, Killala, Co. Mayo

15. Enjoy some Afternoon Tea …

… after a day of  exploring North Mayo. In our list, there’s something to suit all budgets and tastes, so gather the girls and enjoy an afternoon treat.

Afternoon Tea at the Ice House

16. Walk the woodland trails at Enniscoe … 

… or explore the fascinating little museum or trace your ancestors at the adjoining North Mayo Heritage Centre near Crossmolina.

17. Take a stroll along Lacken Strand …

… or explore North Mayo’s best kept secret beaches at Kilcummin, Ross and Ballycastle. We have some glorious beaches in North Mayo for you to explore in 2020.

Lacken Strand, Co. Mayo, Ireland

18. Explore North Mayo’s heritage ….

 … including the Monasteries of the Moy, and our wealth of megalithic, neolithic and Bronze Age remains, dated all around the area.

Take it all in with a tour with accredited guide Jim Henry of Sláinte Ireland Tourswho’s full of local knowledge.

Reflection of Rosserk Abbey, Co Mayo, Ireland.
Reflection of Rosserk Abbey, Co Mayo, Ireland.

19.  Enjoy the best of North Mayo live music …

… at cosy Rouse’s Bar with their Saturday night sessions,  or enjoy some cracking cocktails in Hogan’s while listening to live music three nights a week.

On the first Friday of each month, Killala Bay Folk Club convenes in Killala to celebrate our musical and storytelling heritage – we highly recommend it!

Trad sessions in Rouse's Bar Ballina at Rouse's Bar

20. Embrace the wilderness of North Mayo at Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, …

11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness, dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range. It’s also an important nature reserve, and boasts a Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park accreditation.

Ballycroy National Park

For other things to see and do in North Mayo, you’ll find loads more across our website and social media networks!