Exploring North Mayo's Timeless Treasures - Visit North Mayo

Situated in the West of Ireland, the North Mayo region has an extraordinary history spanning 5000 years. This area, integral to Ireland’s historical events, from Neolithic settlers to St. Patrick and through periods of famine and emigration, reflects the heartbeat of Irish life. Explore numerous museums, visitor centres, historic sites and exhibitions for an authentic experience showcasing Mayo’s rich heritage.

If you think we missed something that absolutely should be on our list – drop us an email on [email protected] and we will be sure to consider it.

– Jackie Clarke Collection: A Historical Treasure Trove

The Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina is the most important private collection in Europe of Irish historical material. Spanning 400 years, it includes artefacts associated with influential figures like Wolfe Tone, Michael Collins, and Michael Davitt. The magnificently renovated building offers free admission, a wheelchair-accessible heritage garden, and a journey through Ireland’s history.

Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina: www.clarkecollection.ie

– Belleek Castle and Marshall Doran Collection: Timeless Elegance


Belleek Castle has been a family home for most of its existence. Built between 1825 and 1831 in a spectacular Neo-Gothic style, the castle still leaves a lasting impression as you sweep up the drive. Explore the Belleek Castle Tour, unveiling the castle’s history and the Marshall Doran Collection, one of Ireland’s finest collections of arms, armour, fossils (including Jurassic dinosaurs!), and antiques. The tour includes the Medieval Banquet Hall, the Spanish Armada Bar, and the last wolf shot in Connaught.

Belleek Castle and the Marshall Doran Collection, Ballina: www.belleekcastle.com/

– Tobar Mhuire Well: A Sacred Oasis

Uncover the spiritual side of Mayo at Tobar Mhuire (St.Mary’s Well). Nestled in the serene landscape, this holy well is a place of pilgrimage and reflection. The well is believed to have healing properties, and pilgrims have visited for centuries to partake in its waters. Experience the tranquil surroundings and connect with the spiritual heritage of County Mayo.

Tobar Mhuire, (near Rosserk Abbey), Killala, Mayo

– Monasteries of the Moy: Tranquil Medieval Remnants

Rosserk Friary, North Mayo, Ireland by Bartek Rybacki

The Monasteries of the Moy Greenway links three historical sites between Ballina and Killala, stretching roughly 14km. Ideal for cyclists and walkers, the route starts at Belleek Woods and the trail includes the Augustinian Abbey, Rosserk Abbey, and Moyne Abbey. Each site offers unrivalled peace, scenic views, and a glimpse into ancient hospitality and learning.

View the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway map here.

– The Crossing, Downpatrick Head

The “Spirit of Place” installation entitled “The Crossing” at Downpatrick Head, Ballycastle, County Mayo
The “Spirit of Place” installation entitled “The Crossing” centered around the blow-hole known as ‘Poll na Seantainne’ at Downpatrick Head along the Wild Atlantic Way. The installation explores the multi-layered relationship between landscape, culture and authentic travel as it relates to Downpatrick Head, North Mayo’s “Signature Discovery Point” on the Wild Atlantic Way. This installation is by renowned architect, Travis Price, and his team from Catholic University, Washington. Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin

Downpatrick Head, Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Wayfound three miles north of Ballycastle.

The Crossing is a restoration project at Downpatrick Head, Ballycastle, Mayo commemorates the natural power and historical tales of the site. Evoking the struggle and slipstream between cultural history and the eternal sacred, it is a border where folklore and spoken tradition reflect on lives past and present.

– Dún Briste (The Broken Fort)

From the dramatic cliffs at Downpatrick Head marvel at the incredible sea stack known as ‘Dún Briste’ (The Broken Fort). The stack was separated from the mainland around 350 million years ago in 1393 as a result of high seas and the people were taken off using ship’s ropes. Dún Briste is 63 metres by 23 metres, 45 metres high and 228 metres from the shore.

Dun Briste sea stack at Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head is in an area of great scenic beauty, but is dangerous and should only be viewed from a distance.

Downpatrick Head, Ballycastle, Mayo – find more information here.

– Ceide Fields: A Glimpse into Ancient Farming

Beneath the wild boglands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of field systems, dwelling areas, and megalithic tombs. The stone-walled fields, over almost 6,000 years old, are the oldest known in the world, covered by a natural blanket bog with unique vegetation and wildlife. Positioned on the edge of a 110m high cliff, a viewing platform offers breath-taking views of spectacular cliffs and rock formations.

Ceide Fields, Glenurla, Ballycastle: www.heritageireland.ie

Blacksod Lighthouse: Guiding Through the Ages

For centuries, Blacksod Lighthouse has stood sentinel on the rugged coastline, guiding ships safely. Explore the lighthouse and its surroundings, absorbing the maritime history and significance of this coastal landmark. A visit here offers a rare opportunity to visit the working lighthouse. You also hear the fascinating stories of maritime history, Irish culture, and local folklore. From world changing weather reports to daring adventures and as a family home for generations of keepers families, Blacksod Lighthouse holds many memories within its thick walls!

Blacksod Lighthouse, Fallmore, Blacksod, Belmullet: www.visitblacksodlighthouse.ie

– Inishkea Islands: A Maritime Tapestry

Explore the maritime history of Mayo with a visit to the Inishkea Islands. These uninhabited islands off the North Mayo coast lay around 5km west of the Mullet peninsular. The Inishkea Islands are steeped in history, from ancient monastic settlements to the remnants of a thriving fishing community. Discover the rugged beauty of Inishkea North and Inishkea South, where time seems to stand still.

Access: To get to the Inishkea Islands Black Sod Sea SafariWild West Boat Tours (formerly Geraghty Charters) and Belmullet Boat Charters all operate from Blacksod pier. This is weather dependant. It takes approximately 35 minutes to reach the islands. Parking is free of charge and is located on the pier. 

– Wild Nephin National Park & Ballycroy Visitor Centre : Nature’s Timeless Beauty

Wild Nephin Wilderness Park
Wild Nephin Wilderness Park

Encompassing 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and rugged mountains, Wild Nephin National Park stands as an expansive, uninhabited sanctuary, primarily defined by the imposing Nephin Beg mountain range. This untamed wilderness, rich in natural beauty, holds significant historical and heritage value. The Visitor Centre located in Ballycroy village serves as a gateway to this pristine landscape. It provides an interpretative exhibition, the Tóchar Daithí Bán Nature Trail, and the Ginger & Wild Café. Through its vast expanse and thoughtful amenities, the park preserves the historical essence of the region, offering a unique insight into the untamed beauty of Ireland’s natural heritage.

Ballycroy National Park & Visitor Centre, Ballycroy: www.nationalparks.ie/wild-nephin

– Mayo North Heritage Centre: Roots of North Mayo

The North Mayo Heritage Centre (NMHC) at Enniscoe Estate in Co. Mayo is a special place preserving the region’s history. With a focus on heritage, it offers genealogy services globally and features a museum, library, and organic garden. The centre hosts events, making it a lively spot for cultural experiences. Whether exploring ancestry or enjoying the Enniscoe looped walk onsite, North Mayo Heritage Centre is a captivating destination preserving North Mayo’s rich history.

Mayo North Heritage Centre, Castlehill: www.northmayogenealogy.com/

– Addergoole Titanic Memorial: Remembering Tragedy

The Addergoole Titanic Memorial in Lahardane holds a poignant place in history, commemorating the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The memorial pays tribute to the 14 residents of Addergoole who left the area to board the Titanic. 11 of whom perished in the maritime disaster. The memorial serves as a heartfelt reminder of the tragic toll of the Titanic’s sinking and links to its global impact. It highlights the local community’s strength and dedication to preserving the memory of those lost, adding to the wider maritime heritage of the region.

Addergoole Titanic Memorial, Lahardane: Find out more here

– Foxford Woollen Mills: Weaving History

Working mills and tour at Foxford Woollen Mills

Step into the historic world of Foxford Woollen Mills, where time unfolds in an immersive journey. This operational mill has served Foxford village for over 130 years of history. This is witnessed in the finest wool throws and blankets crafted in collaboration with the community and creative partners. The mill, along the picturesque banks of the River Moy, reflects a commitment to heritage. Explore master craftspeople at work and relish the award-winning cafe. It’s not just a visit; it’s an enduring experience, encapsulating history, craftsmanship, and community spirit.

Foxford: www.foxford.com

– Michael Davitt Museum: Celebrating a Land League Hero

The Michael Davitt Museum in Straide showcases an extensive collection of historical artefacts related to Michael Davitt’s life and his campaign work within the National Land League. A tribute to Mayo’s most famous son, the museum offers a profound insight into Ireland’s history.

Michael Davitt Museum, Straide: www.michaeldavittmuseum.ie

– Fr. Peyton Centre: A Tribute to Family Prayer

Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. was born on January 9, 1909, in Carracastle, County Mayo, Ireland. He became widely known for organising large-scale Rosary Rallies, with the most famous one drawing an estimated crowd of 2 million people in Manila, Philippines, in 1985. The phrase he popularised, “The family that prays together stays together,” became a hallmark of his advocacy for family prayer. Dedicated to the memory of Father Patrick Peyton C.S.C., the Father Peyton Memorial Centre in Attymass is a haven for respite, prayer, and peace. It is nestled at the foot of the Ox Mountains and by Ballymore Lake. It offers not only a historical experience but also stunning scenery and world-famous scones.

Fr. Peyton Centre, Attymass: www.fatherpeytoncentre.ie

Other Notable Connections:

…..and just one more unmissable experience only up the road:

– The National Museum of Country Life

National Museum of Ireland - Country Life Turlough Castlebar Mayo

Just 30 minutes from Ballina, and not North Mayo, but one that we certainly cannot omit when we speak of history, heritage and culture lies The National Museum of Country Life. This National Museum of Ireland, which is Free of Charge to visit offers a glimpse into Mayo’s diverse past, providing a compelling journey from ancient times to the present through carefully curated exhibits. By safeguarding artifacts, documents, and traditions, the museum significantly contributes to Mayo’s collective memory, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of its vibrant heritage.

National Museum of Ireland, Turlough Park, Castlebar: Museum of Country Life

In concluding our journey through the wonders that define North Mayo’s 5000 years of history, we acknowledge that it is this rich history that renders the region truly exceptional. Whether intimately connected to the area or not, one cannot escape the charm of its distinctiveness, cultural history, and compelling narratives. North Mayo stands as a testament to the enduring fascination of its past.

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