“I believe profoundly in the importance of museums; I would go as far as to say that you can judge a society by the quality of its museums” – Richard Fortey
In North Mayo we are truly blessed with an abundance of museums for you to visit and immerse yourself in our culture and heritage. Here’s our comprehensive guide to the museums of North Mayo.
The Jackie Clarke Collection, Pearse Street, Ballina, F26 A368
The Jackie Clarke Collection, located in the heart of Ballina, is the single most important private collection of Irish history material in public hands, comprising over 100,000 items spanning 400 years.
The collection comprises an eclectic mixture of artefacts, proclamations, posters, political cartoons, rare books, pamphlets, handbills associated with Theobald Wolfe Tone; letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa.
It also contains, works by Sir John Lavery, maps, hunger strike material and personal items from Leaders of the 1916 Rising.
The collection is located in the stunning old Hibernian Bank – a beautiful building in its own right. The main exhibit space showcases the treasures with an interactive touch screen illustrating and detailing hundreds more items. Adjacent, stored in the old cast iron bank vault is an original 1916 Proclamation – Jackie’s “Holy Grail” – and the reading of this is an experience not to be missed.
The Céide Fields, Glenurla, Ballycastle, F26 PF66
The Céide Fields are the oldest known field systems in the world, almost millennia old. It is a unique Neolithic landscape of world importance, which has changed our perception of our Stone Age ancestors.
Visitors to the Centre can enjoy a brand new upgraded digital-led visitor experience, and marvel at the magnificent 4,500 year old Scots Pine tree which dominates the centre of the building. A panoramic viewing platform both inside and outside on the roof of the glass topped pyramid shaped building affords dramatic views of sea and land.
Booking not essential, but it is advisable to call ahead if you are with a large group.
The Michael Davitt Museum, Straide, F26 FX37
The Michael Davitt Museum is located in the picturesque and historic village of Straide in Co. Mayo on the N58 route between Ballyvary and Foxford beside the cosy Copper Beech pub.
The museum, which tells the story of the prominent Irish social justice activist and agrarian campaigner who founded the Irish National Land League, is housed in the magnificently restored pre-Penal Church that was used prior to the enactment of the 1690’s Penal Laws in Ireland. The building is a beautiful setting for the fascinating story of this huge character in Irish history, a close ally of Charles Stuart Parnell, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and campaigner for Home Rule.
The Michael Davitt Visitor Centre includes the beautiful surrounding grounds of Straide Abbey, which together with parking and picnic area provides an ideal destination for a great family day out in Mayo.
Belleek Castle, Belleek Woods, Ballina, F26 KV04
Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and 1831, on the site of a medieval abbey, one of four along the River Moy. Belleek was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore.
The manor house was designed by the prolific architect John Benjamin Keanes, and the neo-gothic architecture met the taste of the time, when medieval styles became fashionable. The Knox-Gores lived in Belleek until the early 1940’s.
Marshall Doran, a merchant navy officer and an avid collector of fossils and medieval armour, acquired the run down property in 1961, restored it and opened it as a hotel in 1970.
The Marshall Doran Collection is temporarily closed to the public due to Covid-19
The Foxford Experience at Foxford Woollen Mills, Providence Rd, Foxford, F26 H9E4
The Foxford Woollen Mills was established in 1892 by Sister Agnes Morrogh-Bernard, and the award-winning Foxford Woollen Mills Visitor Centre is located in one of the original buildings. Airy and light-filled, it showcases a treasure trove of Irish craft produce and gifts, a gourmet café and a working mill which you can explore as part of your tour.
The Foxford Woollen Mills guided tour offers a truly unique experience to visitors by sharing the story of the Mills, why it was set up in Foxford in 1892, the challenges that were faced and how they were overcome. The story of the Mills is a fascinating tale of one woman’s incredible determination and triumph over adversity against all the odds.
To book your factory tour:
Father Peyton Centre, Attymass, Ballina, F26 X884
The Father Patrick Peyton CSC Memorial Company CLG was incorporated on 25th June 1997 to develop and operate a Memorial Centre to the late Fr. Patrick Peyton C.S.C. (1909 – 1992). Attymass parish being the birthplace of Fr. Peyton was selected as the location for the Memorial Centre.
Take a guided tour and discover how this young priest from Attymass brought his message of peace and family unity to the world. In a time before social media, he recognized the power of Hollywood and the stars of the time, Bing Crosby, Maureen O’Hara and James Stewert to name few, helped him promote his simple message ‘The family that prays together stays together’.
He was pioneer of his time and recognized potential, his studios film‘The Family Theatre’ gave future stars such as George Lucas (Star Wars) and James Dean their first film credits.
The North Mayo Heritage Centre, Castlehill, Ballina, F26 FR94
Located within the Enniscoe House Estate, between Crossmolina and Lahardane is the North Mayo Heritage Centre. The Centre is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich heritage of the region of Mayo North.
The North Mayo Heritage Centre has a Family History Research Unit, which provides a genealogy service for clients all over the world. The centre also has a small museum of unique domestic and agricultural artifacts from North Mayo and an exhibition area for you to explore on your visit.
For further information about the North Mayo Heritage Centre, contact:
Hennigan’s Heritage Centre, Killasser, Swinford, F12 T207
The purpose of the Heritage Centre is to preserve and showcase the heritage of life of the Mayo area, from farming, house and home, to jobs and work, to celebration of life and death.
At the heart of the heritage centre lies beautifully preserved thatched cottage built in the 1870’s where the Hennigan family lived until 1970.
The displays tell the story of Ireland, from prehistoric times to the 19th century land estates and tenants, through Independence and into the present.
The Ballinglen Museum of Art, Ballycastle, F26 RX61
25 years after The Ballinglen Arts Foundation opened it’s doors in Ballycastle, The Ballinglen Museum of Art opened in 2020.
Throughout their quarter of a century The Ballinglen Arts Foundation has amassed a collection of 800+ pieces of art which will be showcased in the new museum.
The Ballinglen archive is the largest collection of contemporary art in Ireland and the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in the west of Ireland.
Blacksod Lighthouse, Blacksod Bay, F26 KC7V
This new guided experience explores the history of the lighthouse and the people that lived and worked there. The tour allows visitors to view some of the ground floor rooms before climbing the steep stairs to the top of the tower. There they can view the lens at close range, and experience an uninterrupted view of Blacksod Bay, across to Doohoma Peninsula and Achill Island.
Coming soon …
Oweninny Windfarm Visitor Centre, Bellacorick, Co. Mayo (tba)
The Mary Robinson Centre, Ballina, Co. Mayo