Category Archives: Mayo Walks

Clare Island

Visiting Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland has been on my bucket list for a couple of years. We recently had the opportunity to visit the Island and even though it is January we decided to go. We were not disappointed.

Clare Island, is approximately 7km long and 4km wide, and lies 5km of the west coastal of Ireland.  The highest point Knockmore (“An Cnoc Mór” in Irish, meaning great hill) is 462m. Today, there is a population of about 160 though many of the houses on the island are holiday homes.

We took the ferry from Roonagh pier, just outside Louisburg, on a cold but bright morning. The sea was choppy and hopping from the pier steps into the ferry had to be timed with the swell. Once all the passengers were safety on-board, the crew hoisted a trailer full of hay with the aid of a small crane. This was quickly followed by an ancient jeep.


Clare Island

In less than half an hour, we found ourselves alongside the Clare Island pier. We took the road heading west from the harbour, and part of the Clare Island loop walk. Looking inland the land rose to Knocknaveen. Out at sea, we could see the smaller island of Inishturk.


The mainland from Clare Island

At this time of year, many of the facilities are closed but thanks to the hospitality of a local family we enjoyed some tea and hot chocolate,  and also learned a little of Island life. There is only a primary school on the island so once children reach their teenager years they leave for secondary school on the Monday morning ferry, returning to the island on Friday evening.


12th Century Abbey

We continued our walk, pausing for lunch, at the island abbey, unfortunately also closed for repair. There was then a steep climb along the road as we headed inland, but we had an extra treat of seeing an Irish hare! The land is grazed mostly by steep, with a few cattle, donkeys and ponies.

After crossing the interior of the island, we headed south-east back toward the harbour. Close to the pier stands a Tower House once owned by Grace O’Malley the famous pirate queen (whom I have written about previously).

We left the island on the 16.15 ferry back to the mainland.  We were further blessed with a magnificent sunset over Inishturk and the sighting of three bottle-nosed dolphins (too far off to get a decent photo). I can safely say that we were all take by the beauty of the island and the hospitality of it’s inhabitants. And we hope to make a return journey later in the year.


Sunset over Inisturk from the Clare Island Ferr


October Beach Walk

As some of you will know one of our favourite family activities is a visit to the beach!

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Even at this time of year, a beach walk brings much pleasure. The day was grey and perfectly calm, so the planned kite flying had to be abandoned. Still we enjoyed some beach art, rock jumping, fossil hunting, and I got to play with my camera. We even had a paddle, but it felt VERY cold!

From the shore of Beltra beach, you get to see Ireland’s pilgrim mountain, Croagh Patrick and looking out into Clew Bay you can see the hump-back shape of Clare Island. On the island is a 16th century Tower House or Castle which was one of the homes of the legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley (in Irish Grainne ni Mhaille  though she was also known as Granuaile). It is a place that is on our list of “places to visit”.

Before heading home we enjoyed our picnic, which included some warming pumpkin soup.

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Beltra beach, Westport, Co Mayo

Mausoleum at Belleek Woods

So as Eliza guessed, the snap shot I gave you yesterday was just some little detail of a mausoleum.



The mausoleum lies in Belleek woods in Ballina Co Mayo. Sir Francis Author Knox Gore (1803-1878), inherited Belleek Demesne in 1818. He was responsible for building Belleek Manor (now Belleek Castle hotel).  On his death he wished to be buried in the grounds of the demesne with his horse! His son, Sir Charles James Knox Gore, had the mausoleum built over what is thought to be his father’s grave. It was designed by James Franklin Fuller and demonstrates Hiberno-romanesque architectural style. Franklin Fuller also designed Kylemore Abbey and Ashford Castle.


Fairy Trail

Just before the summer holidays finished, we visited Belleek woods in Ballina, Co. Mayo. We had visited the woods before, but one of the paths was now part of a new cycle greenway from Ballina to Killala (called the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway) and we thought we’d try some of the route.

Monastries of the Moy Greenway

Monasteries of the Moy Greenway

As we followed some of the woodland paths on our return we found these lovely fairy houses.  The fairy trail has been a relatively recent addition to the woods and many of the fairy houses have been made locally through the men’s shed project.

It was a great little find and particularly entertained our six year old who enjoyed running ahead to see what little fairy house she could spot next.

Tourmakeady woods

Today, our amble was at Tourmakeady Woods in County Mayo. It is a lovely woodland walk. We took the path along the River Glensaul, then followed the red walk loop that goes around the lake, past Tourmakeady Lodge.

The sun was shining and there were lots of butterflies about, but the stars were the Silver-washed fritillary, of which we saw seven. These large butterflies are often seen in deciduous woodland. The caterpillars feed on violets.

Silver-washed fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary, hiding in the falling leaves

The woodland, was one of sixteen chosen to be part of the People’s Millennium Woods to commemorate the new century. The project involved the planting of 1.3 million native Irish trees.

Tourmakeady Woods

Tourmakeady Woods

Not having been there before, and only reading up on the site on our return, I see that we missed what is supposed to be a lovely waterfall which was on another path than the one we took!! Never mind, something to see the next time we visit.


Peacock, determined not to show it’s beautiful colours!



Enniscoe House

Enniscoe House and Estate can be found near Crossmolina in Co Mayo, on the shores of Lough Conn.  Steeped in heritage the Georgian house dates from 1790 and today is run as a family hotel. We visited a couple of weeks ago to take part in a bumblebee workshop (held by the National Biodiversity Data Centre). The second half of the day involved looking for and identifying bumblebees.  It also allowed us to enjoy the grounds including the beautiful woodland, but especially the organic walled garden. The garden is divided into two; first the formal garden or pleasure grounds, and secondly the vegetable and impressive fruit growing area. Strawberries, apple trees and currants were all in bloom.  The garlic was huge in comparison to my own! And the potatoes were coming on very well.

Enniscoe is also the location of the Mayo North Heritage Centre, where people can go and explore their North Mayo ancestors / genealogy. There is also a looped walk, a museum and all important tea rooms.