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County Mayo is a coastal county with a rich maritime heritage. Renowned for its diverse, wild and spectacular scenery, Mayo’s coast, which is the longest coastline of any county in Ireland, also boasts a number of impressive geographical and geological attributes —  Ireland’s largest island (Achill), highest sea cliffs (Croghaun), oldest rocks (Annagh Head) and only natural fjord (Killary) along with enigmatic sea stacks and mystical drumlin islands.  

Mayo’s geographic positioning sees it as Ireland’s closest land base to the edge of the Continental Shelf which is the driving force of marine biodiversity in the North Atlantic. With a coastline dense with shallow inlets, estuaries, reefs, mud and sand flats, sand dunes and machair, Co. Mayo is rich in flora and fauna. Testament to this vast number of pristine natural habitats much of Mayo’s coast, marine waters and offshore islands are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Natural Heritage Areas and Ramsar Wetland sites, all protected under European law.   

Areas of the Mullet Peninsula and Blacksod Bay in North West Mayo are both nationally and internationally important areas for wintering waterfowl as well as being one of two places in Mayo where Corncrake breed.  Many offshore Islands are important breeding grounds for seabirds including rare and endangered species. Marine mammals such as the Grey Seal and Bottlenose Dolphin are protected in marine waters along much of the west coast. 

The most up to date list of all protected habitat and heritage sites within County Mayo is available from the NPWS here.


A list of Natural Coastal Heritage Areas in Co. Mayo: 

  • Doogort East Bog NHA (002381) 
  • Pollatomish Bog NHA (001548) 
  • Tullaghan Bay and Bog NHA (001567) 



  • Bills Rocks SPA (004177) 
  • Blacksod Bay/Broad Haven SPA (004037) 
  • Carrowmore Lake SPA (004052) 
  • Clare Island SPA (004136) 
  • Doogort Machair SPA (004235) 
  • Duvillaun Islands SPA (004111) 
  • Illanmaster SPA (004074) 
  • Inishglora and Inishkeeragh SPA (004084) 
  • Inishkea Islands SPA (004004) 
  • Killala Bay/Moy Estuary SPA (004036) 
  • Mullet Peninsula SPA (004227) 
  • Stags of Broad Haven SPA (004072) 
  • Termoncarragh Lake and Annagh Machair SPA (004093) 

The National Parks and Wildlife Section of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have responsibility for the protection of designated sites and your local conservation ranger can be contacted through the Regional Office at Lagduff More, Ballycroy, Co. Mayo, Tel: 098-49996 

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