Must see attractions in County Mayo

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ballycastle

    Dun Briste

    An astonishing sea stack that's lashed by foaming sea, Dun Briste is Mayo's top natural sight. Legend attests that St Patrick drove all the vipers from Ireland onto the stack on Downpatrick Head, leaving the mainland snake-free. Try to choose a clear day for a visit to amplify the visuals. You can drive most of the way up to the sea edge, but then you'll need to walk the last 400m or so. Dun Briste is 6km northeast of Ballycastle.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Killala

    Lackan Strand

    Lackan Bay's beach is a stunning and vast expanse of golden sand – it's particularly beautiful as the sun goes down, making it one of Ireland's most gorgeous bays. There's good surf here and plenty of places to get lost. Follow the R314 about 4.5km northwest from Killala, then turn at the signpost for Kilcummin.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Castlebar

    Ballintubber Abbey

    Imposing Ballintubber Abbey is the only church in Ireland founded by an Irish king that remains in use. It's reputed to have been established in 1216 next to the site of an earlier church founded by St Patrick after he came down from Croagh Patrick. Its history is tumultuous: the abbey was burned by Normans, seized by James I and suppressed by Henry VIII. It's signposted off the N84, 13km south of Castlebar.

  • Sights in Cong

    Ashford Castle Estate

    Just beyond Cong Abbey, the village abruptly ends and the woodlands surrounding Ashford Castle begin. First built in 1228 as the seat of the de Burgo family, owners over the years included the Guinness family (of stout fame). Arthur Guinness turned the castle into a regal hunting and fishing lodge, which it remains today. Although the only way to look inside its restored interior is to stay or dine here, the surrounding estate is open to the public.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ballycastle

    Céide Fields

    An exposed hillside 8km northwest of Ballycastle is home to one of the world's most extensive Stone Age monuments. So far stone-walled fields, houses and megalithic tombs – about half a million tonnes of stone – have been found, the legacy of a farming community nearly 6000 years old. The visitor centre, in a glass pyramid overlooking the site, gives a fascinating glimpse into these times. Be sure to take a guided tour of the site to fully appreciate the findings.

  • Sights in Ballina

    Belleek Castle

    Take a fascinating tour of this restored castle, built between 1825 and 1831 on the site of a medieval abbey. The castle was bought in the 1960s by fossil collector Marshall Doran, who gave it an eclectic and eccentric interior, some of it nautical (including the Spanish Armada bar). The tour also visits the Banquet Hall and Marshall Doran's collection of fossils, weaponry and armour. En route you will also encounter the last wolf shot in Connaught.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Castlebar

    National Museum of Country Life

    The extensive and engrossing displays of this riverside museum delve into Ireland's fascinating rural traditions and skills. It's set in a modern, photogenic facility that overlooks a lake in the lush grounds of 19th-century Turlough Manor. A branch of the National Museum of Ireland, the museum explores everything from the role of the potato to boat building, herbal cures and traditional clothes. It has a good cafe and a shop; it's 8km northeast of Castlebar.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Killala

    St Mary's Well

    St Mary's is one of Ireland's most transfixing holy wells. An apparition of the Virgin Mary has drawn pilgrims here for centuries, and today a tumbledown 18th-century chapel covers the spot. A large thorn tree, garlanded with rosary beads and crucifixes, sprouts from the roof; inside, waters spill from an old stone vault, overseen by a statue of the Virgin. St Mary's Well is a signed 1km walk from the approach road to Rosserk Abbey, off the R314.

  • Sights in Westport

    Westport House

    Built in 1730 on the ruins of Grace O'Malley's 16th-century castle, this charming Georgian mansion 2km west of the centre retains much of its original contents and has some stunning period-style rooms. Set in glorious gardens, the overall effect is marred somewhat by its commercial focus, but children love the Pirate Adventure Park, complete with a swinging pirate ship, 'pirate's playground', roller-coaster-style flume ride through a water channel, and Gracy’s Bouncy Castle.

  • Sights in Lahardane

    St Patrick's Church

    Bursting at the seams with worshippers on Sundays, this small church has a magnificent stained-glass window depicting a girl being lowered in a lifeboat down the side of the doomed Titanic. It commemorates the 11 local lives lost in the disaster. For maximum effect, wait for the sun to come streaming through.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Achill Island

    Keem Bay Beach

    Tucked away at the far west of the island, Keem Bay is Achill's most remote Blue Flag beach. The crescent of golden sands sits at the foot of steep cliffs, hemmed in by rock on three sides. Spiralling down to this perfect cove feels like finding the pot of gold at the end of an Irish rainbow. Beautiful.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Castlebar

    Moore Hall

    With towering walls engulfed in ivy and empty windows, Moore Hall is an astonishing and atmospheric ruin. Set beside Lough Carra, it was built in the 1790s and burned down in 1923 during the Civil War, its priceless library of old books and splendid panelling going up in flames. The surrounding woodland is a joy to explore. You can also wander around the totally overgrown walled garden, which may, along with the house, be eventually restored.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Achill Island

    Trawmore Beach

    Running 3km southeast from Keel, beautiful, Blue Flag, golden-sand Trawmore is among Achill's most photographed beaches. Be aware that there are dangerous rips from its centre to the eastern end (under the Minaun Cliffs). If you're swimming, heed the signs and stick to the western half.

  • Sights in Newport

    Burrishoole Abbey

    From a distance, the eerie shell of this wind-battered 1470-built Dominican abbey near the water is quite a sight. Leaving Newport in a northwest direction along the N59 towards Achill Island, a sign points the way to this stunning abbey, and from there it’s a further 1km to the car park.

  • Sights in Killala

    Round Tower

    Right at the centre of things and at the heart of Killala, the town's gorgeous 12th-century limestone round tower is perfectly preserved, although it was struck by lightning in the 19th century and repaired.

  • Sights in Knock

    Knock Marian Shrine

    A place of pilgrimage for decades, the Knock shrine includes five churches and a museum set amid landscaped grounds. The complex has evolved thanks to reports of religious apparitions, including those of the Virgin Mary, in the 19th century. Today a modern chapel encloses a depiction of the apparition carved from snow-white marble. A segment of stone from the original (and long-gone) church mounted on the outside wall has been rubbed smooth by the hands and lips of the faithful.

  • Sights in Cong

    Cong Abbey

    The evocatively weathered shell of Cong's 12th-century Augustinian abbey is scored by a cross-hatch of lines from centuries of exposure to the elements. Nevertheless, several finely sculpted features have survived, including a carved doorway, windows, lovely medieval arches and the ruined cloisters.

  • Sights in Newport

    Carrigahowley Castle

    Carrigahowley Castle (also called Rockfleet Castle), an intact 15th-century tower off the N59, is associated with 'pirate queen' Grace O'Malley. She married her second husband, Richard an-Iarrain (impressively nicknamed 'Iron Dick' of the Burke), to gain control of this castle, and famously fought off an English attack here. Moodily set on a boggy tidal area, the castle was her principal stronghold, and in her later years she settled here permanently. The castle is currently closed for safety reasons.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Clare Island

    Clare Island Abbey

    The chancel roof of 13th-century Clare Island Abbey is dotted with faded fragments of murals, dating from around 1500. Look out too for the tomb reputed to be that of Grace O'Malley, where a stone inscribed with her family motto formidably declares: 'Invincible on land and sea'. The abbey is in the south of the island; it's often locked – get the key from O'Malley's Post Office (how fitting), some 30m away.

  • Sights in Achill Island

    Don Allum Monument

    In the village of Dooagh's main car park sits a slender, inscribed stone noting the epic achievement of Don Allum, the first person to row across the Atlantic Ocean in both directions. He landed here in September 1987 after 77 days at sea. He made the entire journey in a 6m-long, open plywood boat, dubbed the QE3, which had no satellite navigation or communication systems. Opposite the monument, Lourdie's bar has associated memorabilia.