Restrictions are gradually lifting; life is beginning to feel normal again. I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood to get out and go exploring. Plus, after what we’ve been through, a well-earned holiday is definitely on the menu. The lengthy lockdown has us languishing for rolling hills, cycle greenways, ancient abbeys and cosy accommodation.
With overseas travel not advised, we want to go back to our most loved Irish destinations! Many have placed Mayo on their holiday wish list of Irish vacations this summer.
Here in Mayo, we have implemented new measures to ensure safe social distancing, limit visitors to museums, abbeys, restaurants, and encourage outdoor exploration.
Here are my top 6 things to do in Southeast Mayo. To ensure you make the most of your time in this part of Mayo during COVID-19!https://devlinfarmlife.com/6-things-to-do-in-southwest-mayo/
1-The Greenway Castlebar to Turlough village
Many people are familiar with the great western greenway Westport to Achill. If you have ventured this trail and are looking for another destination, I suggest The Greenway Castlebar to Turlough village. You can cycle or walk this trail. It’s only 10 km’s and takes 45-90 minutes to complete. What makes this greenway brilliant it’s linked to Castlebar town and The National Museum of Ireland: Country life in Pictorial Turlough Park. The trail is mainly a flat route set along the local river that brings you through native woodlands. Anyone I’ve spoken to have highly recommended it due to its flat surface and tranquil setting. This is a great route to try before taking on other longer and robust greenways across the nation. https://www.greenway.ie/Castlebar.html Whether you’ve walked, strolled or pedalled, I’d recommend that you visit Turlough House and its grounds. It’s an excellent place for an outing with the family. When our children were younger, we often frequented this enchanting place. It has everything from history to a spacious park, and the surrounding area is spectacular. https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Country-Life
2-Turlough Park House
Turlough Park House is situated just on the N5 road, 6km’s northeast of Castlebar town. It bears the same name as the charming village it resides in. The present-day House was created by the Architect Thomas Newen Deane in 1866 for Charles Lionel Fitzgerald. He also designed The Holy Trinity Church in Westport. Set on 30-acres, this Victorian Gothic House with a magnificent garden, park and wooded grounds. The original 18th –century house was abandoned and is now in ruins inside the current gateways.
3-Turlough Park & Grounds
While the House is splendid, it’s the grounds that will have you in awe. The surroundings are a great example of Victorian landscape design and have many features from the period, and are unique in Mayo. The garden features an ornamental lake with islands. There is a lovely riverside trail that is stocked with native wildlife. To the front of the House is the restored Victorian-style glasshouse. There is ample parking with wheelchair facilities, and it’s a lovely location to bring children and adults of all ages.
4-The National Museum of Ireland-Country Life
A visit to the purpose-built museum is a must for those interested in Irish history and heritage. There you can experience various exhibits such as what life was like back in the olden days. My favourite exhibit is the rare photography and archive film footage. My late mother in law was a big fan of the museums knitting and crafts department. Due to a stroke that affected her mobility, she needed a wheelchair to get around. She was able to explore various collections across the four-floor building in her wheelchair with ease. After taking all that this place offers, I recommend sitting down in the cosy café. It has an outside sitting area that is very suitable for these times. My family always enjoyed sitting and taking in the beautiful architecture, orchestra of flowers and vegetable garden. Another great thing about Turlough Park house and grounds admission is free. When visiting its recommended to look at the website for information related to covid-19.http://www.museumsofmayo.com/museum-country-life/building.html
5- Ballintubber Abbey
The county of Mayo has a refined collection of monastic buildings and ruins decorated throughout its distinctive landscape.
Situated twelve kilometres south of Castlebar town is the beautiful village Ballintubber. Ballintubber village is home to one of the most famous Abbeys in Ireland.
The site on which it now occupies was always a place of worship. It predates Christianity in Ireland, and according to tradition, Saint Patrick (who brought Christianity to Ireland in 441AD.) carried out baptism in the druidic well. After this, he built a church and made a pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick to be closer to god.
The present Abbey was founded by the king of Connaught, Cathal Crovederg O’ Connor, in 1216. For me, Ballintubber abbey holds many fond memories. Member of my family resides in the locality. It was the last place I visited before we descended into the first lockdown.
The church has married several celebrities such as Former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, golfer Rory McIlroy and many more. It even had the pleasure of having a poem written about it by celebrated British poet Cecil Day-Lewis, “The Abbey that refused to die” in 1967.
As my mother would say, sure we’re on the road, we’ll keep going. If you don’t mind hopping into the car again, plus you have the time. I would recommend taking a drive to Moore hall in the adjoining village of Carnacon.https://www.ballintubberabbey.ie/
6- Moore Hall-Carnacon
Standing along the shores of Lough Lannagh lake are the ruins of Moore Hall. Built on Muckloon hill by the Moore family in1790s. During the Irish civil war, many country houses were burnt down. Sadly, Moore hall was one of the 275 “big houses” destroyed by the anti-treaty forces during the civil war in 1923.
The grounds and the exterior woodland area are open to the public. There’s a network of lovely walks through the woods. There is a small beach on the lake, and it has good quality sand. The water is relatively shallow and runs a long way out, great for young kids. There is plenty of parking and public toilets. Visit the old family graveyard if you have time. There are no shops or other facilities there, so it’s pretty unspoiled and suits especially at this time.
From Castlebar- take the N84 (Ballinrobe rd.). Drive for 14 km’s (8.7 miles) Take the left at Skehananagh Lower L709 (Signage for Ballintubber Abbey & Moor Hall)
From Westport- Take R330 (Tesco/ Train Stain). Drive for 12.5 km’s (8 miles). At Killavally takes the left L1809. Come to a crossroads drive ahead (L709)
Moore hall is in the centre of a triangle marked by the townships of Castlebar (N84), Claremorris (take the R331) and Ballinrobe (take the L5744). It is about 14.5 km’s (9 miles) from each of these towns. https://www.mayo.ie/activities/walking-hiking/moore-hall-loop-walk
I really enjoyed travelling around the southeast of Mayo. I would have liked to add Ashford Castle, but at the moment, their grounds are not open to the public. From the 2nd of June, they will open their doors again, only to guests staying in the hotel. for more information check out their website https://ashfordcastle.com/
Cong is a beautiful village, and there is so much to do there. It’s a village that is well worth walking around and exploring. https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/towns-villages/cong/cong-see-and-do.html Since I began writing this blog, the vaccines are being rolled out, and things are looking positive. I’m off to explore 6 things to do in the Northwest of Mayo for Part 3. I can’t wait, Till then. Stay Safe from us at Devlin Farm Life. https://devlinfarmlife.com/6-things-to-do-in-southwest-mayo/