Are you looking to immerse yourself in Irish culture, history, and heritage in Mayo?
North Mayo is a region known for its heritage and history, and is full of rich historic wonders, big and small, waiting to be discovered. Check out these seven amazing historical sites and cultural attractions and learn of an enchanting and sometimes forgotten past.
1. Trace Ireland’s history at Ballina‘s Jackie Clarke Collection
A collection of Irish material comprising over 100,000 items that span 400 years, the Jackie Clarke Collection is the most important private collection of Irish historical material in public hands and an invaluable catalogue of heritage in Mayo. The Collection is hosting a variety of special events throughout year to commemorate the 1916 Rising, so make sure you drop in.
Find the Jackie Clarke Collection at Pearse St, Ballina.
2. Experience Ireland’s Religious Past along the Monasteries of the Moy
Take an afternoon to admire the beautifully preserved religious sites of North Mayo and avail of the fantastic photography opportunities. Start in Ballina with the Augustinian Abbey on Cathedral Road. Witness one of the finest and best preserved of the Franciscan Friaries in Ireland – Rosserk Abbey.
Follow the River Moy to its estuary along the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway and discover Moyne Abbey, which was founded in 1460 for the Franciscans,. Nearby is Rathfran Abbey, with its colourful history.
And an honorary mention must go to nearby Errew Abbey near Crossmolina, too!
3. Explore enchanting Belleek Woods, Ballina
Walk or cycle through the tranquil Belleek Woods which features some fantastic trails – a perfect place to embrace our heritage in Mayo North.
There are many historical features from bygone days to unearth including a hermitage site, the old famine wall, the ice house, the lime kiln and the Knox-Gore Monument also known as “The Horse’s Grave”.
Check out too the unusual concrete boat (the SS Creteboom) and explore its fascinating history, and see an extraordinary wall built during the famine in Ireland.
4. Witness the wonders of Belleek Castle, Ballina
Enjoy a sensational lunch or dinner in the award-winning restaurant or Jack Fenn’s Courtyard Bistro. Afterwards, take the fascinating tour and experience the Marshall Doran Collection, which will take you to down into the dungeons of the castle and showcase one of the finest collections of arms and armour, fossils Iincluding this dinosaur fossil!) and antiques in Ireland.
Tours are available 11am and 2pm but call ahead to arrange a special evening booking.
5. Learn about Céide’s Ancient History at the Belderrig Valley Experience
Experience the excitement of discovery and of hands-on research in the most intensely researched 30km of the entire Wild Atlantic Way at the Belderrig Research and Study Centre. In this day long archaeological experiences you will be introduced to the excitement of discovery in the outdoor ‘laboratory’ with guided walks, demonstrations and hands-on data collection which includes turf cutting and other activities.
Indoors at the Research Centre laboratories, examine your findings with cutting-edge scientific equipment. Examine the ring patterns of the trees for knowledge of the age of the tree when it died, whether blown down, burnt or died of natural causes. Identify some of the billion grains of botanical information (pollen) contained in a sod of turf.
For more information and for bookings, contact Declan Caulfield on 087 2515292 or visit belderrigvalley.com.
6. Weave an unforgettable experience at Foxford Woollen Mills
Take a short drive to the town of Foxford and the Foxford Woollen Mills. Originally founded by an Irish Sister of Charity, Mother Agnes Morrough Bernarnd in 1892 to help the local community fight destitution, the fledgling woollen and textiles business overcame many challenges down through the years in order to survive.
Enjoy an interactive journey through a turbulent and fascinating history, finishing with a tour of the working mill where master craftspeople are at work on some of the world’s finest weaves using techniques and traditions passed down through generations to create contemporary blankets, garments and products that are sought after worldwide.
Foxford Woollen Mills
Providence Rd, Foxford, Co. Mayo
For tour bookings contact: +353 94 9256104 | W: foxfordwoollenmills.com
7. Follow the Sacred Landscapes Trail
Painstakingly researched in depth by local historan Steve Dunford the SacredLandscapes website is an invaluable resource for those with a love of land and heritage, and forms the basis of a compelling drive or cycle through time in this time-worn, rugged landscape of ours.
Documenting and mapping 17 sites of local interest from the mouth of the Moy Estuary to the rugged, exposed cliffs of Céide, this website will provide readers with a wealth of historical information, enriched by the documentation of local folklore and poetry.