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North Mayo - Top 10 things to do

The barony of Erris has been voted Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland (The Irish Times)! Chosen for its balance of nature, activities, wilderness and beauty, the Gaeltacht region is one of the most westerly places in Europe. Indeed, for centuries, locals have said that the next parish over is New York!  

    1. Spend a day on Inis Gé Theas - this deserted island is now an internationally known home to bird life, and other fauna and flora. To watch the whales or puffins, hire a licensed boat.  
    2. Jump into the Atlantic Ocean or learn to surf in a watersports centre that teaches activities through the Irish language.  
    3. Learn the history, heritage and culture of Erris. Immerse yourself in the world of St Brendan the Navigator, Brian Rua Carabine’s prophecies, the island of Inis Gluaire and the mythical giant Daithí Bán… visit Áras Inis Gluaire, Ionad Deirbhile, and Ballycroy National Park. 
    4.  Catch and cook your own dinner! With more than 40 varieties of fish known to inhabit the seas, lakes and rivers of Erris, the region is a fisherman’s fancy. For lunch, a guide can help you forage for seaweed and shellfish.  
    5. Hike the Bangor Trail, an ancient route through the Nephin Beg mountains and Ballycroy National Park. Or choose a scenic loop at Benwee Head - higher than the cliffs of Moher!  
    6. Play golf at Carne Golf Links, which “now has 27 of the most dramatic, natural dune land holes in the world”. Or play a par three 9-hole links course at Ceann Ramhar (Doohoma Head), a Wild Atlantic Way discovery point.  
    7. Cycle around Erris with a packed picnic, taking in the views of all four lighthouses: Blacksod, Ballyglass, Eagle Island and Blackrock.  
    8. At Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, find out about James Hack Tuke’s assisted emigration scheme in 1882, when more than 3,000 people emigrated on steamships from Blacksod Bay to Boston and Quebec.  
    9. Venture back further in history, at the Neolithic Céide Fields.  
    10. Discover picnic areas with clifftop views, an unspoilt secret cove, or a pristine Blue Flag beach. Download the free Erris Beo app to guide you. 

Ballycastle, Belderrig & Céide Top 10 things to do

The clifftop regions of Céide, Ballycastle and Belderrig provide some of the most staggeringly beautiful views on the Wild Atlantic Way, looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean & beyond. Home to some of the oldest settlers to Ireland, it is an area steeped in the traditions of the West of Ireland. An undisturbed landscape rich in native flora and fauna, the area is ideal to escape the rush of everyday life and find what inspires you!  

    1. Experience the panoramic views & bracing sea air at Downpatrick Head, where you can see the stunning Dún Briste sea-stack from the edge of the cliffs. Here, you’ll also spot a number of promontory forts, the remains of a church, and a WWII lookout post & EIRE land-marker. 
    2. Beneath the wild boglands of Mayo North lies the Céide Fields, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of fi eld systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs over 6,000 years old. Learn the fascinating story of the world’s earliest farmers, and of their discovery by a local school-teacher.  
    3. Enjoy beautiful exhibitions at the renowned Ballinglen Arts Foundation, which plays host to local, Irish and international artists. 
    4.  Explore the spectacular coastline of Mayo North by bicycle. Whether you prefer road racing or off-road cycling, you can take in the stunning scenery of these surroundings at your own pace and freedom.  
    5. Marvel at the ancient history & heritage of the area, which is rich in archaeological evidence from the Mesolithic era. Check out the Doonfeeney Standing Stones (the second highest in Ireland), see the Norman castle ruins in Ballinglen, or see if you can count how many court-tombs there are here (Mayo North has the highest concentration in Europe). 
    6.  Have a go at turf-cutting! Find out how peat was traditionally cut with turf spades and learn about the Neolithic & Bronze Age farms in Belderrig.  
    7. Check out the wild Atlantic Ocean! Go swimming in Belderrig’s natural sea pool, or go paddling at the beach in Ballycastle. Or keep your feet on the rocks, and go fishing – see what you can catch! 
    8.  At low tide, you can try an adventurous trip over the rocks to Horse Island (caution is required)! This isle is a natural bird sanctuary, and the locals reckon it’s somewhat of a sheep shelter too! [Access by land requires permission from the owner of the private property.]  
    9. Discover the Early Christian heritage of Mayo North. You’ll find the ruins of a church at Downpatrick Head. One of the oldest church buildings currently in operation in Belderrig’s St. Teresa’s Church (dating from 1869). Also, St. John’s Church of Ireland is one of the oldest buildings in Ballycastle.  
    10. Take to the trails: lace up your boots and enjoy a walk to Ballycastle Beach, or take the Sralagagh Loop Walk - a beautiful trail starting from Ballycastle. Or hike a section of the famous Western Way (which stretches all the way to County Galway). 

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