County Mayo Information
County Mayo boasts one of the longest histories of any Irish county. Situated in the province of Connacht, its population is approximately 125,000, despite the region being the third largest county in the Irish Republic. It has the third highest population of Irish speakers, with just shy of 11,000 residents living in the Gaeltacht.
In terms of accessibility, the county is fairly easy to navigate by car or bus, and there are plenty of lively towns to base a visit in, with Westport and its numerous hotels a particular favourite. Bus Éireann services the routes through Mayo. Mayo also offers various car hire and touring services to enable tourists and visitors to see the sights and surrounding areas.
Landscape and History
Mayo is largely an agricultural land and has a strong fishing tradition, with the River Moy a popular source of salmon in particular. The river flows for over 100 kilometres, and passes through the famous Moy Valley, where the shores are housed with many churches and abbeys.
Mayo’s history, similar to that of Galway, is far reaching and ancient. The archaeological discovery of remains dates the existence of civilisation in Mayo to around 4000BC. It was with the arrival of Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century that Mayo’s history began to be narrated, from as early as the 6th century the area was populated with small monastic settlements.
In its later history, Mayo, due largely to its agricultural nature, was one of the counties most affected by the Irish potato famine of 1845-1847. It is estimated that 90% of its population depended on potato as the core item of their diet, and by 1848 the county was in a deep state of depression.
The legacy of the famine is represented in much of the Mayo landscape, with famine graves and deserted villages along the hillsides and ridges. Such a fusion of history and natural beauty is a significant feature of many of the county’s places of interest, perhaps most notably in Broadhaven Bay. A bay of the Atlantic Ocean on the north coast of Mayo, it is famous for its population of Bottlenose dolphins. However, the bay has historical connotations, and indeed many ships of the Spanish Armada of the 16th century sank within its waters.
Ballintubber Abbey is another such place, founded in 1216. It has been restored and re-roofed extensively and even incorporates a small museum for. As a further point of interest, former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan was married there in the spring of 2001.
Accommodation, Restaurants, Sports
There is a range of quality accommodation throughout the county of Mayo, some of which has been expanded and developed from original, traditional buildings.
The historic town of Ballina boasts a good choice in hotels and guest houses, based along the shores of the River Moy, with The Ice House and The Downhill Hotel especially popular destinations for tourists and corporate visitors alike. Westport is another town with an excellent selection of accommodation options and a lively nightlife.
Restaurants lean towards traditional Irish cuisine, and there is a keen culture of using produce farmed within the county. Given its penchant for fishing, the county also boasts a range of sea food restaurants and menus across its many towns and regions.
Mayo has become a centre of adventure sports in Ireland. Hiking, climbing and surfing are all popular and there are a number of adventure races held in the county every year.
Bunratty Folk Park
Late evening at Dalkey (Dublin...
O'Connell St. A. O'Loughlin
Lough Tay (Wicklow)
Molly Malone Dublin
Burren Co. Clare
"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world" - Gustave Flaubert