County Mayo - Environment

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Here's a selection of Mayo Environment. Click on the 'Go to ALL' link to get the full list.

1. Walks

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The Western Way

Castlebar, Co. Mayo

This 170km route takes the walker from the fjord of Killary Harbour at Leenaun on the Co. Galway border to the base of the Ox Mountains on the Co. Sligo border. The variety is tremendous, and the walker will pass through some of the most beautiful scenery of Co. Mayo - across rugged mountains, through leafy laneways, by forest track and stream, through wild and desolate bogs. Route Details: Leenaun, Sheefry Bridge, Westport, Newport, Sheskin, Ballycastle, Killala, Ballina, Ox Mountains. Total Distance: 177km/110 miles. Longest Stage: Newport to Ballycastle - 67km/41 miles. Highest point: Above Sheefry Bridge - 400m/1310ft.

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2. Mountains

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Croagh Patrick

Cloona, Co. Mayo

The beautiful mountain of Croagh Patrick overlooking Clew Bay has been a sacred mountain for almost 5,000 years. As far back as 3,000 B.C. our megalithic ancestors worshipped there. Before the birth of Christ the festival of the God Lugh was held on its slopes. TOCHAR PHADRAIG (Patrick's Causeway) For hundreds of years pilgrims following in St. Patrick's footsteps began their climb at Aughagower which is on the ancient pilgrims route known as Tochar Phadraig. RELIGIOUS DIMENSION Every year on the last Sunday of July many thousands of people flock to Croagh Patrick, climb its rugged sides and perform exercises of penance and prayer. These thousands of pilgrims are carrying on an unbroken tradition, following in the footsteps of their race to whom all down the centuries Croagh Patrick has been a holy mountain. Some pilgrims endure the utmost hardship and penance by climbing the mountain in their bare feet. Mass is celebrated continuously in the open air on Reek Sunday, confessions are heard in the small St. Patrick's chapel and pilgrims perform the three traditional stations. Until the 1970's the pilgrimage was made during the hours of darkness, but in the interest of safety it now takes place in daylight. GEOLOGICAL COMPOSITION Croagh Patrick is one of the highest peaks to be seen in the Mayo-Galway region. It is likely that Croagh Patrick protruded above the last ice sheet since aerial erosion taking place at this time above the level of the ice has given rise to scree slopes. Did you know that when climbing Croagh Patrick you will walk on gold? Exploration has shown overall grades of 0.5 ounces of gold per ton in at least 12 quartz veins, which could produce 700,000 tons of ore. GROUPS St. Patrick's Chapel on the summit is normally locked, but the key will be made available on request by the Administrator of Westport Church. There is a car park at Murrisk at the base of the reek which is ideal for parking of coaches and other vehicles.

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3. Tourist Attractions

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Knock Shrine

Co. Mayo

Our Lady's Shrine Knock, is one of the great Marian shrines of the world, attracting over 1,500,000 visitors annually. It is an oasis of peace, tranquillity and deep spirituality where many who come to see, remain to pray and find reconciliation. On 30 September 1979, His Holiness Pope John Paul II came as a pilgrim to Knock Shrine, the goal of his journey to Ireland. Knock is the scene of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John on 21 August 1879, witnessed by fifteen local people. Ever since it is a place of devotion and pilgrimage. Numerous miracles have been recorded at Knock. Private pilgrimages take place all year, with a special programme of ceremonies and devotions from April to October each yer. The focal point of the Shrine is the gable of the apparition, on the west wall of the Church of St. John the Baptist, and the Shrine Oratory. Nearby is the asilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland (1976), the largest church in Ireland with accommodation for up to 20,000. The beautiful landscaped site has hostels for the sick, two rest-houses for invalids, and the Chapel of Reconciliation.

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4. Sightseeing Tours

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Bellacorick Bog Tour

Co. Mayo

The Bog Train at Bellacorick, located on the N59, links the past, the present and the future. Initiated and run by Bord Na Mona (The Irish Turf Board) the train trip through Belacorick Bog is accompanied by an account of how energy is generated from Irish Peat. The train travels to Ireland's first windfarm, which consists of 21 turbines and can meet the requirements of 4,000 households. On the Bog Train the visitor learns of the process involved in harvesting 400,000 tonnes of milled peat annually by Bord na Mona at the Oweninny plant in Bellacorick. The history of how blanket bogs were formed is also given, as well as an account of flora and fauna associated with bogs. Visitors also get a chance to cut a few sods of turf by hand, using a traditional implement called a 'Slean'.

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5. Nature Reserves

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Clew Bay, Co. Mayo

For nature lovers who enjoy a day of discovering wildlife secrets, Naturalist Shay Fennelly can bring you for a coastal walk to look for otters, seals or dolphins on the shores of Clew Bay or coast along the Coast of West Mayo.

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6. Bogs

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Ceide Fields

Co. Mayo

Concealed beneath a five thousand year old bog near Ballycastle in Co Mayo is a remarkable pattern of walled fields and corrals which indicate the existence of an ancient, ordered tribe who farmed this area before the bog was formed. The beautiful visitor centre on the site interprets this phenomenon with a series of imaginative displays and an audio visual presentation. Featured also at the centre is the geology of the area, wild flora and history of the bog development. Guided tours are available on request. Access for people with disabilities to ground floor of centre and to tearooms. Special parking may be arranged by prior arrangment.

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7. Beaches

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Bertra - Blue Flag Beach

Murrisk, Co. Mayo

Mayo, with its many clean, sheltered beaches is ideal for swimming, sailing, surfing and other watersports. Bertra is a Blue Flag Beach; bathing areas which have met international criteria for clean water, freedom from pollution, safe access, sanitary facilities, lifeguards on duty, wheelchair access, and information centres. The Blue Flag Beach campaign's standards are 20 times higher than the minimum set by the EU directive on bathing water quality. But there are beaches which are clean, yet do not have flags, simply because the award is confined to those which have been designated 'bathing beaches' by the EU. A beach can be clean if it has no blue flag. Check locally.

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8. Islands

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Achill Island

Co. Mayo

Achill, Ireland's largest offshore island and one if its most spectacular, is joined to the mainland by a bridge at Achill Sound. With a population of some 3,000 people, it is 22 km (14 miles) long and 19 km (12 miles) wide. The island carries the distinction of having received five European five Blue flag Beach awards.

Achill's steep hills rise steeply from the sea, and the island possesses some of the most amazing cliff faces in Europe. Its famous Atlantic Drive reveals some of Achill's most glorious scenery: bogland and poor farmland mingling with heather and fuschia hedges. On the southern coast of Achill are the strange Cathedral Rocks and at the western end is Croaghaun which rises from the sea to a height of 665m (2129ft). The lower slopes of Slievemore mountain were home to 'the colony' a Protestant mission established in 1834 to help convert Catholics. It offered education, food, clothing and shelter to the children as a reward for becoming Protestant. Achill has attracted painters and writers over the years who have been captured by the beauty of the island.

At the southern entrance to Achill Sound, the strait which separates the island from the mainland is Kildavnet castle, a 15th century tower house, which was one of the net-work of strongholds belonging to the pirate queen, Grace O'Malley - Granuaile.

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9. Parks

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Kiltimagh - The Sculpture Park

Co. Mayo

During the Summer of 1993, a Sculpture Symposium was held in Kiltimagh. Over a period of eight weeks, a number of well-known and talented sculptors, assisted by sixteen local students, transformed this beautiful area into the tranquil Sculpture Park we have today.

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10. Lakes

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County Mayo - Coarse Angling

Co. Mayo

For some years the All Ireland Pike Fishing Championships were held in Co. Mayo. One of the great attractions of the coarse fishing in Co. Mayo is the variety on offer to the angler, from the smaller ponds to the larger lakes with pike, bream, rudd, perch, and tench to choose from. Fishing is all year round. Manulla Lake, Four miles from Castlebar - off the Claremorris road, approx. 14 acres with easy access and 100 yds. of bank suitable for shore fishing. Holds a great stock of pike, some perch and a low density stock of trout. Cuiltybo Lake, 3 miles south of Kiltimagh and west of Kiltimagh/Ballyfarnagh road, this is a shallow lake with an excellent stock of sizable pike. Fish of over 25Ibs. recorded. Also holds perch. Levally Lake, Four miles from Pontoon, this is a 350 acre lake in the scenic surrounds of Nephin mountain. Holds a good stock of pike and perch and a low density of trout with a few salmon running into the lake during the latter part of the season. Access is easy. Practically all the shoreline is suitable for bank fishing. The Castlereagh Lakes (3), beside Irishtown, in Co Mayo, have recently been provided with first-class fishing stands, stiles and footbridges and two of the 28 stands have facilities for disabled anglers. The lakes have good bream from skimmers to over 5Ib as well as rudd to over 1Ib and perch, pike and eel. Roach are very plentiful, some to 1Ib.

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11. Woods and Forests

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Cong Wood

Co. Mayo

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12. Scenic Drives

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The Achill Drive

Co. Mayo

The Achill Drive - (121km/76mls - Detour 22km/14mls) Westport - Newport - Mulraney - Achill Sound - Dooega - Keel - Dooagh Keem Bay - Dugort Leave Westport on the N59 road for Newport. On the right, 1km outside town , is a monument commemorating a major event in Irish History. It was here, in June 1879, that the Irish Land League, an organisation established to protect tenant farmers, had its most important meeting, which was addressed by the League's two leaders, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt. As you enter Newport, just before you cross the river, you will find details of a fine walking trail leading from Newport to Bangor. On the right, is a seven arch viaduct which was erected in 1892 to connect the Westport to Achill Railway line. After Newport, take the Achill Road. You will come quickly to a sign on the right, leading to the Nephin Drive. A series of lakes and mountains provide a very scenic drive, and on this road, too, is a Salmon Research Fishing Agency Centre where a visitor centre, tells the story of salmon, and is open during the summer. Return to the main road, and as you approach Achill, you will see a sign to the left for Burrishoole Abbey (1 km), the ruin of a 15th century Dominican Friary, which is of historic interest. On the main road drive towards Mulrany, a lush area, leading to Achill Sound and Achill, Ireland's largest island (24 km long and 19 km wide), now connected to the mainland by a bridge. Magnificent cliff scenery, long sandy beaches, little villages and masses of historical monuments make the island a must for anybody who appreciates beauty and culture. At Achill Sound follow the Main road to Keel, or take the scenic Atlantic drive along the south of the island. It is a stunning drive, but it is not for the unsure driver. The Atlantic Drive will bring you past the ancient Church of Kildavnet, which translates as the Church of St Dympna. Dympna fled to Achill to escape her fathers incestuous demands and founded a church. To your left is Granuaile's Castle, once a watchtower for the famous 16th century pirate queen. Continue to the new pier where there is a monument to 32 people who drowned in Clew Bay in 1894. Be prepared for some tremendous scenery as you drive around the coast to Dooega. Keel, a delightful village, has a 5 km sand beach known as Trawmore. At the end of the beach the Monawn Cliffs and the Cathedral rocks are a remarkable sight. Three km beyond Keel is the village of doonagh. Keem Bay, 5km west of this is a glorious inlet with another fine sandy beach. To the north and west is the quartzite peak of Croaghaun washed by the Atlantic. If you are mountain climbing, it is not safe To go near the edge, as Croaghaun drops suddenly to the ocean at its highest point. Achill Head dominates this area. Dugort, at the foot of the Slievemore Mountains on Achill's north Shore, is another popular village. At the back of Slievemore Mountain the Atlantic has carved out little islands and caves. Seals bask here in hot summer days. At the eastern base of the mountain between Dugort and Keel is the site of the old village of Slievemore. If you want to climb here, more superb scenery such as megalithic tombs and other pre-historic monuments will be you reward. Further east, there is a beach at Poulavaddy. After exploring Achill, you may decide to stay overnight and sample the pubs and restaurants on the island.

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16. Visitors Centre

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Foxford Woollen Mills Visitor Centre

Co. Mayo

Foxford Mills products are found in the most exclusive shops in the world. The Visitor Centre traces the success story of this remarkable mill from its humble beginnings by a nun to the thriving craft industry it is today. The story is told through a multi-lingual audio-visual presentation, followed by a tour of the working mills where skilled craftspeople produce the famous Foxford blankets, rugs and tweeds. Shop and restaurant also open.

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