Great things to do in North Mayo - Visit North Mayo

Starting in Ballina and working your way throughout the region, here is a list of seventeen great things to do in North Mayo, for family-friendly activities to delights for historians, culture enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers, there is something for all tastes.

Yet, this list only scratches the surface of the fantastic offerings in Ballina and its surroundings. With Enniscrone (Sligo) just a stone’s throw away, ensure you allocate ample time to traverse our breathtaking coastline, savour the culinary delights in our charming cafés and restaurants, and experience the warmth of our renowned hospitality.

Embrace the enchantment of our diverse accommodations, from charming B&Bs to boutique hotels and even unique glamping sites. Relax in cosy comfort amid stunning scenery, making your stay as memorable as the beauty of North Mayo.

The adventure awaits!


Trace Ireland’s history at The Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina

The Jackie Clarke Collection Ballina County Mayo Ireland
The Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina County Mayo, Ireland

A collection of Irish material comprising 100,000 items spanning 400 years, the Jackie Clarke Collection is the most important private collection of Irish historical material in public hands.

Witness a dramatic narration from an original 1916 Proclamation of Independence or browse the vast collection which includes the tricolour cockade taken from the hat of Wolfe Tone by his captors in 1798, letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde, Charles Gavan Duffy, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa and rare books, posters, political cartoons, pamphlets, handbills, maps, hunger strike material and personal items from Leaders of the 1916 Rising.

The exhibit is located on Pearse Street, Ballina and deservingly leads our ‘Great Things to Do in North Mayo list! 

Admission is FREE.  Visit clarkecollection.ie or call 096 73508 for group bookings. 

Savour a tour and tasting at the Connacht Whiskey Distillery, Ballina

The Connacht Distillery three pot stills located in Ballina County Mayo Ireland
The Connacht Distillery three pot stills located in Ballina County Mayo Ireland

Based at the site of the old Duffy’s Cakery, Ballina, beside the River Moy, the grain is now being put to use in a different way as the team at the Connacht Whiskey Company produce pot still Irish whiskey by the banks of the River Moy. 

The Connacht Whiskey Distillery Experience offers visitors an authentic, intimate guided craft distillery tour where visitors can learn about whiskey production from grain to glass, while also exploring the history and heritage of Irish spirit making. 

The tour includes  fun and informal tastings of the distillery’s whiskey, vodka, gin and traditional Irish poitín, and allows visitors to gain an in depth knowledge of the Connacht Whiskey brand and the stories behind each of our spirits. Upon completion, each participation receives a signed certificate.

For more information and online bookings, visit connachtwhiskey.com.


Discover Mayo’s forgotten history at The Céide Fields and the Belderrig Valley Experience, Ballycastle and Belderrig

Céide Fields, Co. Mayo by Alison Crummy / Fáilte Ireland
Céide Fields, Co. Mayo 📸 by Alison Crummy / Fáilte Ireland

On the wild, exposed, North Mayo Atlantic coast, the remains of a complex system of fields, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs lie buried beneath the blanket boglands. Together, they make up the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world. Discovered by the Caulfield family, and extending over hundreds of hectares, these stone-walled fields are the oldest known globally, dating back almost 6,000 years.

The newly-renovated and award-winning Céide Fields Visitor Centre with its distinctive pyramid shape is set against some of the most dramatic rock formations in Ireland, and offers a brand new, immersive experience that will tell the story of a settlement over the millennia right through to the current day. A viewing platform on the edge of the 110-metre-high Céide Cliffs will help you make the most of the breathtaking scenery.

After your visit to Céide Fields, you have the option of following in poet Seamus Heaney’s footsteps and getting under the skin of this famous monument by visiting Belderrig Valley Experience. Based at the Belderrig Research and Study Centre, visitors can participate in one, two or three day-long archaeological experiences, incorporating traditional turf-cutting by hand, and laboratory analysis of the sod of turf.

For more information and for bookings, visit belderrigvalley.com or heritageireland.ie


Weave an unforgettable experience at Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford

Foxford Woollen Mills working mill
The Foxford Woollen Mills – working mill

Originally founded by Mother Agnes Morrogh-Bernard, Irish Sister of Charity in 1892, the fledgling woollen and textiles business at Foxford Woollen Mills overcame many challenges  through the years in order to survive.

Hear how master craftspeople 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. Wander the beautiful airy showroom with its great range of products, and enjoy lunch in the bright and airy gourmet café and restaurant where local ingredients are prepared by Head Chef Kathleen Lally, formerly of the Four Seasons Hotel.

For more information or book tours, visit foxfordwoollenmills.com or call +35394 9256104.


Walk the beautiful Enniscoe House gardens and woodlands, and visit the North Mayo Heritage Centre, near Crossmolina/Lahardane

The stunning ornamental gardens at North Mayo Heritage Centre
The stunning ornamental gardens at North Mayo Heritage Centre

Witness the enthralling beauty of Enniscoe House, the “last Great House of North Mayo” hidden among the woods at the foot of Mount Nephin. Enniscoe is your opportunity to experience life in a home-stay on this fabulous heritage estate.

Experience the fantastic lakeside trails through amazing pastures and woodlands and the carefully restored Victorian walled garden, organic walled garden and 19th century pleasure grounds that extend to the shores of Lough Conn with a beautiful loop walk in place.

Visit the North Mayo Heritage Centre to trace your family history or to browse the exhibition which houses an impressive array of local farm and household artefacts. Enjoy a tasty home baked treat in on-site café. While the house is a private family home, the gardens are open to the general public from 30th March to 31 October. The North Mayo Heritage Centre is open from April to October.

Visit enniscoehouse.com, northmayogenealogy.com or call +35396 96 31809.


Explore our sacred past on the Monasteries of the Moy, with a visit to Rosserk Friary or Moyne Abbey, Killala

Reflection of Rosserk Friary, Killala County Mayo, Ireland.
Reflection of Rosserk Friary, Killala County Mayo, Ireland 📸 by Gareth McCormack

It’s one of our favourite things to do in North Mayo! Why not take a day to admire the beautifully preserved religious sites of North Mayo and avail of the fantastic photography opportunities there? Cycle the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway from Ballina to Killala (which starts outside the soccer club at Belleek Woods, Ballina), and witness one of the finest and best preserved of the Franciscan Friaries in Ireland, Rosserk Abbey. It’s one of a series of abbeys that includes Ballina’s Augustine Abbey, Rathfran Abbey, and Moyne Abbey.

This historic site was founded around 1440 by a member of the Joyce family. These ruins are accessible to the public and are beautifully positioned on an estuary of the River Moy. They boast remarkable carvings and features such as its west doorway, the single-aisle church and a unique double piscina. Nearby is beautiful Moyne Abbey.

Visit sacredlandscapes.ie for more information on North Mayo’s sacred past.


Walk or cycle through the enchanting Belleek Woods, Ballina – Europe’s largest urban woodland

Belleek Woods, Ballina County Mayo Ireland
Belleek Woods, Ballina County Mayo Ireland

Situated along the banks of the river Moy lays the tranquil Belleek Woods which features some fantastic cycling and walking trails. This peaceful woodland stretches for six miles and is one of the largest urban forests in Europe.

Around every corner there are treasures to be discovered and there are many historical features from bygone days to unearth at Belleek Woods including a hermitage site, Knox-Gore Monument also known as “The Horse’s Grave”, the ominous concrete boat which has lain breached at Belleek Woods for decades, and an extraordinary wall built during the famine in Ireland. 

The forest is well signposted and there are routes to suit all the family and level of cyclists.

For bike hire, contact Ballina Bike Hire.


Take to the Water in North Mayo – Explore the lakes and rivers by Paddle Board or Kayak, or head to the coast to surf some of Irelands best waves

Stand up paddling at Bartra Island Co. Mayo Harbour SUPnSail
Stand-up paddleboarding at Bartra Island, County Mayo 📸 HarbourSup

If it’s a water based activity you are after, look no further and spending time on the water has to be one of the best things to do in North Mayo and West Sligo. We are blessed with a flood of outstanding lakes, rivers and rugged coastlines, each with something different to offer. Ready to take the plunge and try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding? There are a number of options across the region top help you get started, More to Life Adventures, Simply SUP, Harbour Sup & Wavesweeper all have offerings to suite all levels.

If you’re looking for something a little more intense, why not try a spot of kayaking? Take to the lakes, rivers or seas on specialist tours and explore the rugged coastline at Ballycastle in a sea kayaking experience to remember. Visit More to Life Adventures & Wavesweeper to discover more.

Mayo is one of several surfing meccas along the Wild Atlantic Way with waves that welcome everyone. From beginners looking to catch their first wave, to the more seasoned surfers, you can get taster sessions as well as rent equipment from Tonnta Adventure, 7th Wave & Tonn Nua.

Enjoy your pick of the above on the River Moy, Lough Conn or Lough Cullin, or on the Atlantic Ocean itself!


Marvel at our Signature Discovery Point, Ballycastle’s Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head © Gareth McCormack
Downpatrick Head © Gareth McCormack **Always remember, safety first when exploring our beautiful destination.

A few kilometres north of Ballycastle village lies the the windswept outcrop of Downpatrick Head – the perfect place for an invigorating coastal walk. St Patrick himself founded a church here, the ruins of which can still be seen today alongside a stone cross and holy well.  This was once a popular pilgrim destination, and today crowds still gather here on the last Sunday of July –  Garland Sunday – to hear mass at this sacred site. The St Patrick connections don’t end there!

The giant sea-stack at Downpatrick Head is called Dún Briste (the broken fort). Local legend says that when a pagan chieftain refused to convert to Christianity, St Patrick struck the ground with his crozier, splitting a chunk of the headland off into the ocean, with the chieftain on top!

One of the most fascinating things to do in Mayo, studying the geology of the sea stack is a fascinating few minutes well spent with its layers upon layers of multi-coloured rock strata. See also the huge blowhole, the ÉIRE 64 aerial sign designed to guide WWII pilots and the WWII lookout post.


Learn about one of Ireland’s greatest activists at the Michael Davitt Museum, Straide

Michael Davitt Museum, Straide, Foxford

Michael Davitt was born in Straide in 1846 to an impoverished tenant farmer family. He would go on to become one of the most important figures in Irish history. A forward-thinking individual, over the course of his career Davitt evolved from a physical force revolutionary to a constitutional politician and human rights campaigner. His role in the formation and organisation of the Land League changed the lives of the tenant farmer class from which he originated, inspiring social radicals and revolutionaries around the world. Davitt’s early life and experiences would go on to shape his moral, social and political views, and provide him with a continued thirst for justice for those who had been oppressed and exploited.

The Michael Davitt Museum, housed in a beautifully restored 17th century penal church alongside Straide Abbey, where Davitt is buried, tells his story and that of the land wars, through photos, artefacts and a team of engaged and passionate guides.

Visit: www.michaeldavittmuseum.ie to plan your visit.

Top tip: Whilst in the area, why not head towards Foxford and into the charming village of Attymass, home to the Fr Peyton Centre. Steeped in the rich heritage of Father Patrick Peyton, known as the “Rosary Priest,” this hidden gem invites you to delve into the life and legacy of a man who dedicated his life to spreading the power of prayer. The Fr Peyton Centre offers a captivating experience, blending exhibits, multimedia displays, and the tranquil surroundings of Attymass. Whether you’re drawn to history, spirituality, or simply the allure of quaint Irish villages, a visit to the Fr Peyton Centre promises a delightful and enriching experience.

Visit: www.fatherpeytoncentre.ie to plan your visit.


See North Mayo through the eyes of artists at the Ballinglen Museum of Art, Ballycastle

The Ballinglen Arts Foundation and The Ballinglen Museum of Art in Ballycastle County Mayo Ireland
Ballinglen Museum of Art, Ballycastle, Co. Mayo

One of North Mayo’s newest visitor attractions, The Ballinglen Museum of Art is a public space for exhibition, creative exchange, engagement, research, and meetings. The Ballinglen Arts Foundation is a registered charity offering artistic residency awards – the Ballinglen Fellowship Programme – that enable Irish and international artists to spend time working in this beautiful corner of rural Ireland. Since its foundation in 1992, the Foundation has facilitated hundreds of artists from the United States, Europe, and Asia to come to the small coastal village of Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland to be inspired by and create art in response to the landscape.

Upon departure, Ballinglen Fellows donate a work of art, created in response to their fellowship, to the Ballinglen Permanent Collection. This collection now contains over 850 artworks and is a record of 30 years of visits by Irish and international artists to Ballinglen. Reflective of the environment, heritage, community, and soul of this part of North Mayo, it is a unique and significant collection of art that is now displayed in this state of the art gallery.

Visit: www.ballinglenartsfoundation.org


Indulge you mind and body – Chill out with a relaxing spa day or unwind your mind with yoga and meditation

Chill Spa at the Ice House Ballina. 📸 Ice House

Sometimes you just need to stop and take a minute or two to recharge the body and mind. If that’s what you need then you won’t be disappointed when you visit North Mayo. Enter a different world where calm and peace replace the stress and tension of modern life at Éidin Spa, at Great National Hotel Ballina or allow yourself to be completely pampered by wonderful spa therapists in a world of your own at the award winning Chill Spa at the Ice House Hotel, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

Roots Wellness, based at the Quay just outside Ballina town, will guide you on a peaceful path of wellness through yoga, meditation and breathing techniques. If you’d like something more active to help you relax, Studio Five Reformer Pilates combines the traditional principals and movements of mat Pilates with a Reformer machine, to work out life’s tensions.

From the exhilarating rush of entering the water, to the mental clarity once you’re in, a cold water dip has many mental and physical benefits. Take a dip in the Belmullet Tidal Pool to embrace the chill of the Atlantic Ocean.


Go beach-hunting!

Rinroe beach Kilgalligan in the barony of Erris County Mayo Ireland
Rinroe beach Kilgalligan in the barony of Erris County Mayo Ireland

North Mayo is blessed with some incredible beaches, very few of them tourism hotspots. Starting with our neighbours over the border in Co. Sligo, Enniscrone is just a 10-minute drive from Ballina (and a favourite of the locals).

There’s Ross Strand, Ballycastle Beach, Lacken Strand (and the secret Kilcummin Back Strand), Portacloy, Rinroe and over on the Erris Peninsula, even more treasures in the shape of Elly Bay and Carne – and lots more to be discovered.

The best way to discover them is to get out and find them!


Climb Nephin Mountain – Ireland’s tallest standalone mountain, and the second highest in Connacht at 806m!

Climbers on Nephin County Mayo

Nephin can be accessed from a number of points, but the most straightforward is the recently developed waymarked trail, put in place by Mayo County Council, the Nephin’s Haven group and the local community, that will take you to the top of the mountain. This route takes you along edge of Nephin’s distinct “crater”, which although spectacular, can be hazardous, so caution is urged. To reacth the trailhead, head towards Lahardane from Crossmolina (or pass through Lahardane coming from Castlebar or Foxford) and use this Google Maps link to the Nephin Car ParkAscend with care! If you’re looking for a different route or would like a guided hike up the mountain, Tonnta Adventure offer bespoke hiking tours including Nephin.

Once you’ve reached the summit, be sure to capture a selfie, and pop into Barrett’s of Lahardane afterwards for a treat, and to collect your personalised Nephin certificate!

Learn more about climbing Nephin here.

While you are in Wild Nephin National Park, why not stay until after dark where Terra Firma offer incredible star gazing and cultural tours of this area. Wild Nephin is the first national park in Ireland to be designated an International Dark Sky Park, offering unparalleled views of the night sky.


Take a sea safari and explore our deserted islands!

Inishkea South Island County Mayo
Photo: Blacksod Sea Safaris

Embark on an unforgettable day by immersing yourself in a sea adventure. Whether it’s sea angling, wildlife watching, or exploring the enchanting deserted Inishkea Islands along the Mullet Peninsula’s coast, there’s something for every nature enthusiast. For the ultimate West Coast experience, connect with our recommended providers: Blacksod Sea Safari, Wild West Boat Tours (formerly Geraghty Charters), Belmullet Boat Charters. The Mullet Peninsula in North Mayo is a haven for unparalleled wildlife experiences, offering some of the most captivating encounters with nature on a global scale.

Consider embarking on an adventure with Donal Kennedy Angling Charter or exploring the wonders with Enniscrone Boat Tours. These options are just the beginning of a sea of possibilities waiting for you to discover along the coast.


Visit Blacksod Lighthouse

Blacksod Lighthouse in the Mullet Peninsula
Blacksod Lighthouse in the Mullet Peninsula

For over 150 years, Blacksod Lighthouse has proudly graced the southern tip of the Mullet Peninsula in Co. Mayo, casting its steadfast beam over Blacksod Point.

With the advent of automation, the traditional lighthouse keepers have bid farewell, and in their place, Blacksod’s dedicated storykeepers have assumed the responsibility of this historic beacon. Joining one of Blacksod Lighthouse’s welcoming and enlightening guided tours offers a vivid portrayal of the lives of keepers and their families. Delve into the rich tapestry of Ireland’s lighthouse history and aids to navigation as you explore this working lighthouse, which boasts a commanding view of a bustling pier.

Blacksod is a rare gem, providing a unique opportunity to witness a functioning lighthouse in action. As you journey through its history, you’ll discover that Maureen Sweeney (an amazing lady who sadly passed away on the 17th December 2023, aged 100) played a pivotal role in shaping the course of history as her weather report changed the timing the D-Day landings.

www.visitblacksodlighthouse.ie


Explore the dungeons of Belleek Castle, Ballina and view the Marshall Doran Collection

The Marshall Doran Collection in Belleek Castle, Ballina County Mayo, Ireland
The Marshall Doran Collection in Belleek Castle, Ballina County Mayo, Ireland 📸 Paul Doran, Belleek Castle

Set in 1,000 acres of woodland & forestry, on the banks of the River Moy, Belleek Castle stands as a symbol of a bygone era. Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and 1831, on the site of a medieval abbey. Take the fascinating tour which includes an explanation of the origins of the Castle and the history of its former owners, the Knox-Gore family.

The highlight of the tour is the Marshall Doran Collection, which will take you down into the dungeons of the castle and showcase one of the finest collections of arms and armour, dinosaur fossils, and antiques in Ireland. You will also see the Grace O’ Malley room and the last wolf shot in Connaught.

For more information visit belleekcastle.com or contact 096 22400.


Witness an endless array of activities and attractions awaiting your exploration along this amazing stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way. Our list above only scratches the surface, with numerous hidden gems yet to be unveiled. For a comprehensive guide, dive into the complete details at www.mayonorth.ie.

Why not let us know your favourite things to see and do over on our Facebook page?

Main photo: © Paddle and Pedal