The South Mayo Scenic Drive
Castlebar - Ballintubber Abbey - Ballinrobe - Cong - Clonbur - Tourmakeady - Castlebar
This drive brings you to the lake-studded and wooded district of South Mayo, where at various points on your journey, you will pass by three beautiful lakes, Lough corrib, Lough Carra and Lough Mask. Leave Castlebar on the N84 for Ballinrobe. After about 11 km there is a signpost for Ballintubber Abbey to your left.
Take this road to one of Ireland's most enduring places of worship, Ballintubber Abbey, which was built in 1216 by Cathal Crobhdhearg O'Connor, King of Connacht, for the Order of St Augustine. It was suppressed by Henry VIII during the Penal Laws in the 1700s. Despite this, the Abbey has been a place of almost uninterrupted worship from its foundation to the present day. The simple elegant church is whitewashed inside and has been beautifully restored. Its many historic artefacts include an ancient cloister arcade, and the tomb of Theobald, son of the famous sea pirate, Grace O'Malley.
Ballintubber was once a stop for pilgrims on the way to Croagh Patrick. Continue on for Ballinrobe towards Moore Hall, on the shores of Lough Carra. This is the home of famous author George Moore and his family, who played a major part in Irish history. The house is now in ruins but there are some interesting walks in the area. Ballinrobe is the next stop, and from here take the R334 to Cong.
Between the village of the Neale and Cong Village is the plain of Southern Moytura. This, according to legend, is the prehistoric battlefield where the tribe of the Tuatha de Danann defeated an even more ancient Irish tribe known as the Fir Bolgs.
Cong, a delightful village on the north-east shore of Lough Corrib, is most famous as the setting for the most Irish of Films, The Quiet Man, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O' Hara. Among the places to visit here are12th century Cong Abbey, Ashford Castle, Cong Woods, and of course, locations associated with the film.
Ashford Castle, once home of the Guinness brewing family, is now a hotel, frequented by the famous and wealthy. Cong is also a fine fishing centre, flanked by Lough Mask and Lough Corrib.
Continue on to Clonbur (An Fhairce), a lively town, famous for its regular traditional music sessions. Near here is Mount Gable, which offers excellent views over the region. Drive on through Finney featuring some magnificent scenery, with Lough Mask to your right and Lough Corrib to your left.
The Partry Mountains loom overhead as you approach Tourmakeady, an angling village on the shores of Lough Mask, and a well know Gaeltacht area. One of Ireland's best known contemporary actors, Mick Lally, who performs regularly with the Abbey and Druid Theatres as well as with RTE, comes from here. Return to the main road to Party, and back to Castlebar.
View a map of the South Mayo Scenic Drive