Magical Mayo

So if you were following us last week we had just spent a lovely night in the fabulous Great National Hotel Ballina. After a huge breakfast (there was a lot of toast consumed!) we bid farewell to the lovely staff at the hotel after they gave us some great recommendations for the day! So we packed up the car and followed the signs for the R314 towards Killala.

Killala is a beautiful little village along the wild atlantic way with stunning views out towards Killala Bay. As well as being a scenic village, Killala also boasts some pretty impressive history. The round tower, at the center of the village, dates back to the time of St Patrick (after he came back down from minding his sheep on Croagh Patrick) and legend has it he baptised, in a village well, 12,000 people in a single day! He was some man that Patrick! We took a walk down to the pier which has some lovely views over Killala bay. We didn’t delay long here as we had a busy day ahead of us but we would definitely recommend you making a stop here on a tour of the coast.

We stayed on the R314 (follow the signs for the WAW south) for around 10 minutes before we saw a turn off for Lacken strand. We decided to investigate and I am so glad we did. The drive down the road to the strand is narrow so take your time but the views are out of this world! This part of the coast is relatively untouched and is a perfect example of our amazing Irish coastline. We parked up the car and tried to find a place to cross over to the sand dunes. Julie of course was first down onto the beach and jumping over the stream. It took myself and Mam a little while longer to pluck up the courage. No sooner had we jumped over that stream, we discover another one we had to jump over to make our way over to the front beach.

Mam wasn’t as lucky on that attempt and she gave us all a great laugh! We made our way around the sand dunes and we were greeted by the most amazing view of the cliffs and coastline along the North Mayo coast. The weather of course was on our side that cold February day but I think you could appreciate this view no matter what the weather! I am so glad that we found this beach. I’m sure there was an easier way to get down onto it but we had fun the way we went.

Back to the car then and we stayed on the small coast road that afforded us some amazing views of the coast. We weren’t on this road long before we came to a crest of a hill that looked down onto our next destination- Downpatrick Head. This is a part of our country where the locals wave at you like you’re their neighbours and where tractors are king of the road. It didn’t take us long to reach the car park for Downpatrick head and the waves here were absolutely huge.

Downpatrick head is a heritage site along the wild atlantic way and as well as being an amazing spot for walking and sight seeing it also has some impressive history. St Patrick founded a church here(hence the name of this headland), the ruins of which are still on the head. There is also a statue to the man himself here and on the last Sunday of July mass is celebrated at this site. Further up the head you will also find a old look out tower that was used during world war 2. After the look out tower you will find the spot where EIRE 64 is marked out on the ground by stones. This was to warn war planes travelling over from America that they has reached neutral Ireland. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out what the 64 meant though!

The Jewel in the crown of Downpatrick head in my opinion was Dún Briste sea stack. The different layers of rock on the sea stack are clearly visible and its also nesting spot for lots of sea birds. There are lots of caves under the cliffs here and you need to be conscious here of holes. Just inside the entrance to the headland there is a grass mound to the right which surrounds one of these holes that goes all the way down to the sea.  It really shows you what the force of the sea can do.

After our lovely walk on Downpatrick head we headed for the lovely little town of Ballycastle, just 5km out the road. We had been told to stop at Marys country kitchen in Ballycastle but unfortunately it was closed. Its supposed to be lovely for something to eat. We kept going and just a few kilometres out of Ballycastle you will come upon the Céide fields. The Céide fields mark the spot of one of the oldest field systems in the world. The remains of stone walls, tombs and prehistoric houses have been found here. Unfortunately the visitor centre was closed (that’s what you get for going galavanting in February!) but it is supposed to be a must stop along the coast. We turned off the R314 not long after the Céide fields and took the road towards Bangor. We passed by the beautiful Carrowmore lake and just to let you know that the sheep own the road here so we were crawling along in parts!

The belly’s had started to rumble at this stage so we stopped in the pretty little village of Bangor and paid a visit to Sizzlers on the main street. We had some beautiful home made soup here and the lady that was serving us couldn’t have been friendlier. This was our final stop before we hit our final destination of Mulranny that evening. I will update you on that destination next week. I have attached all the links below for a trip to the North Mayo coast- as always- Happy Galavanting! xx


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