Killala, Co. Mayo is one of the oldest towns in Ireland, boasting – incredibly – continuous human habitation since the 5th century AD. As you wander through this beautiful small fishing town, you will be confronted by history and heritage on every corner.
Killala is particularly famous in Irish history for the part it played in the 1798 rebellion. In August of 1798, General Humbert arrived into Kilcummin pier from France and combined with the Irish forces against the English forces in the area. Consequently, Killala has become a popular location for historians and in fact was used as a major location for the 1981 multi-million pound film “The Year of the French”.
Killala’s skyline is dominated by a round tower, dating to the 12th century, and a testament to the historic distinction of the village as an ecclesiastical centre. The Killala round tower was most likely used as a belfry and is one of the best examples of round towers in Mayo.
In the centre of the village there is a Church of Ireland cathedral, built in 1670 over the remains of a ruined Catholic cathedral that had stood on the same site. The adjoining graveyard has a 9th century souterrain (from French sous terrain, meaning “under ground”) with numerous chambers. Indeed, legend says that St Patrick once baptised 12,000 people in Kilalla in one day!
Dating back to between 442 and 443 AD, the area is rich in archaeological remains such as:
Rosserk Abbey (founded in 1400 AD as an early Franciscan Friary)
Rathfran Abbey (Dominican Priory 1274 AD)