Saturday, September 19, 2009



Where I stayed and ate go to:

My (admittedly dated) Michelin Green Guide for Ireland leaves the North West of Mayo blank! Nothing out there? Maybe the Michelin man missed out but you don't have to.

We drove out of Ballina the other morning and headed for Killala. The most noticeable thing about Killala is the absence of telephone and electricity poles. These services were put underground in the 80s when a period TV series (The Year of the French) was filmed there.

Then on to Ballycastle, heading for Belderrig. On that road, you can see some spectacular coastal scenery (top), including large cliffs, the best known of which is Downpatrick Head near Ballycastle.

The Ceidhe Fields (above right) gives you a tour of a prehistoric farm found in the bog (the first known cultivated fields in Europe). Very interesting. Just opposite the car park is a protected viewing point for the cliffs.

When you come to the small village of Belderrig, take a right turn in towards the pier. Not much activity there nowadays as the fishing is no longer profitable. Neither does it make sense to endure back-breaking work to extract peat from the bog (left) when you can get heating oil cheaper.

Old habits are dying. And maybe the community is going the same way. It doesn't look that way on the surface. If you take a trip along the side roads here, you will see some substantial houses, some new ones and some renovated. The place looks well but most of these are summer homes for former residents or their descendants. There are no young people left. Indeed no children there now. The national school closed last June when the final three pupils graduated and headed for the secondary school at Lacken Cross, a stepping stone away from the area.

Back then to Belmullet and Blacksod Bay. The Mullet peninsula is worth a trip. On the way back we made a detour at Barnatra, taking the coast road via Inver and Pollathomais (below) and then back to the main road.

Autumn colours, including the red heather, made for a picturesque view on the bogs, the streams and the mountains (where the sunshine and shadows played hide and seek). All lovely for the visitor but it doesn’t put bread on the table for the locals.

Our other day in the West saw us take the road from Ballina over towards Bangor in Erris and then down to Achill Island. You could spend a day discovering the scenery (below) on the island but, if you are short of time, then do the well signposted Atlantic Drive. It is a short but spectacular trip, lovely on a good day but even more exciting when the winds blows and the rain lashes in!

Where I stayed and ate go to:

To further fill that blank in the Michelin guide you could go to which will give you details on many sites including: Ballintubber Abbey, Ballintubber, Claremorris; Céide Fields Visitor Centre, Ballycastle, County Mayo; Clew Bay Heritage Centre, The Quay, Westport; Teach Na Miosa, Croagh Patrick, Westport; Belcarra Eviction Cottage, Belcarra, Castlebar; Fr. Peyton Memorial Centre, Attymass, Ballina; Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford; Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre , Eachleim, Blacksod; Kiltimagh Museum, Old Railway Station, Kiltimagh; Knock Folk Museum, Knock Shrine Grounds, Knock; Mayo Abbey, Mayo Abbey Village, Claremorris; Mayo North Heritage Centre, Enniscoe, Ballina; Michael Davitt Museum, Straide; Partry House, Partry.

Nevin Mountain and Lough Cullin above.
Where I stayed and ate go to: