County Mayo (Irish: Contae Mhaigh Eo, "Plain of the yew trees"), on the west coast of Ireland and the third largest county in Ireland, is often overlooked by tourists. While it may not have the dramatic scenery of Kerry, or the fame of Connemara or The Burren, it has it own special charm. It has wilderness in abundance; it's emptiness is indeed quite special. Perhaps one of the best reasons to come here is that few other people do.
- 1 Ballina (Béal an Átha, "mouth of the ford") – a small cultural town in the north.
- 2 Ballyhaunis (Béal Átha hAmhnais, "ford-mouth of strife") – a town in the south with many traditional areas and a rural community.
- 3 Castlebar (Caisleán an Bharraigh, "Barry's Castle") – county town, the largest town and market centre of the county.
- 4 Claremorris (Clár Chlainne Mhuiris) – gateway town between Mayo and Galway.
- 5 Charlestown (Baile Chathail).
- 6 Cong (Conga or Cunga, "Saint Feichin's narrows") – beautiful little village where John Ford's famous film The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, was filmed. The Quiet Man Heritage Cottage, a reconstruction, is open part of the year. Pat Cohan's Pub from the film is also there.
- 7 Foxford (Béal Easa, "mouth of the waterfall") – a famous fishing village on the River Moy and home of the "Foxford Goat Fair".
- 8 Killala (Cill Ala) – a little historic village in the north where the French landed in 1798 led by General Humbert – celebrates the French-Irish rebellion of 1798 each year.
- 9 Knock (Cnoc Mhuire, "Hill of (the Virgin) Mary") – the world famous Catholic Shrine of Our Lady and Ireland West Airport.
- 10 Mulranny (an Mhala Raithní, "the hill-brow of the ferns").
- 11 Newport (Baile Uí Fhiacháin).
- 12 Westport (Cathair na Mart, "stone fort of the beeves") – generations of Irish men and women have travelled to Westport to climb the local mountain "Croagh Patrick" or visit the local zoo in Westport. A small tourist town with many old homes and buildings dating back hundreds of years.
- The N5 is the main road to Dublin, it leaves the Castlebar eastbound to Swinford and joins the N4 to Dublin at Longford. The N5 also runs westbound to Westport.
- The N60 runs south-east from Castlebar to the Roscommon border
- The N84 runs south from Castlebar to Galway.
- Scheduled services by Bus Eireann run regularly between Castlebar, Westport and Ireland West Airport Knock with intercity services also available to Galway and Dublin.
- Regular trains operate between Westport and Dublin calling at Castlebar, Claremorris and Ballyhaunis. A shuttle train or bus service is also available to the north of the county which connects to the intercity train at Manulla, near Castlebar.
- Ireland West Airport Knock (Knock Airport, NOC IATA) is located in the east of the county about 30 minutes drive from Castlebar. Regular scheduled services are provided by Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Lufthansa and Bmibaby to London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Luton, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Dusseldorf, Barcelona, Alicante, Faro, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Grand Canaria and Paris. Regular connecting buses run from the airport to Castlebar and Westport.
Other than public transport, car hire is readily available in Castlebar and at Knock Airport. Most sites of interest are located in the west of the county between Achill, Westport, Louisburgh and Castlebar.
- Westport House. Designed by the famous architects Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century, Westport House is considered one of Ireland's most beautiful historic homes open to the public. Westport House is situated in an impressive parkland setting with a lake, terraces, gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Achill, Clare Island and Ireland's Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. It was built and is still privately owned by the Browne family, who are direct descendants of the 16th century pirate, Gráinne Ní Mháille, Queen of Umaill. During the 16th century, Gráinne Ní Mháille a leading Gaelic-Irish chief in Connaught. After her death, a report—by Sir Richard Bingham, Governor of Connacht—stated that for forty years she was the stay of all rebellions in the West. She was chief of the O'Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo. Ní Mháille had several castles in the west of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was built. There is still an area of her original castle in the basement of the house (the Dungeons), which is on view to visitors. There is a bronze statue of Ní Mháille by the artist Michael Cooper situated on the grounds of Westport House. The original House was built by Colonel John Browne, a Jacobite, who was at the Siege of Limerick, and his wife Maude Bourke. Maude Bourke was Ní Mháille’s great-great granddaughter (reported by Anne Chambers to greatly resemble her). The house then did not have the lake or a dam and the tide rose and fell against the walls.
- Ashford Castle.
- Ballycroy National Park is a wilderness of blanket bog and mountain heathland. Access from N59 between Bangor Erris and Mallaranny.
- Ballintubber Abbey.
- 1 Blacksod Lighthouse.
- Broadhaven Bay.
- Burrishoole Abbey.
- 2 Céide Fields (10 km northwest of Ballycastle). Daily 10:00-17:00, June-Sept to 18:00. Field system dating to 3500 BC later carpetted by bog, with megalithic tombs. Adult 5€.
- Clare Island.
- Clew Bay.
- Croagh Patrick.
- 3 Eagle Island lighthouse.
- Joyce Country.
- List of designated highly scenic vistas.
- Lough Mask.
- Knock Shrine.
- Mayo Peace Park.
- Moore Hall.
- Mullet Peninsula.
- Museum of Country Life.
- Newport, County Mayo.
- Partry Mountains.
- Rockfleet Castle.
- Sruth Fada Conn.
- Westport Horse Show. The Westport Horse & Pony Show is held on the first weekend in June.
- Go to the races at Ballinrobe Racecourse.
- Sea Angling Festival. The Sea Angling Festival is held annually in the third or fourth week in June. This is internationally acclaimed and in existence for over 42 years, attracting sea anglers from all over the world.
- Croagh Patrick. The annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage is held annually on the last Sunday in July.
- Westival. The Westport Arts and Music Festival is held in the first week of October. This is a festival of arts, music and literature. This six-day event runs annually in October at the Fairgreen.
- Seafood Fest. The Westport Seafood Festival is held on the October Bank Holiday weekend.
- International Four Days' Walk.
- Blues Music Fest. A well-established blues music festival in venues across the town takes place on the weekend before the first Monday in June each year.
Castlebar is the location for important festivals and traditions, among which is the International Four Days' Walk. A well-established blues music festival in venues across the town takes place on the weekend before the first Monday in June each year. During the 1970s and 1980s the town hosted the International Castlebar Song Contest which was televised nationally on RTE. The Museum of Country Life is on the outskirts of Castlebar, and is the only branch of the National Museum of Ireland outside Dublin.
Castlebar is home to the Linenhall Arts Centre, which exhibits visual art throughout the year, as well as hosting live drama and music performances. The Linenhall also organises an annual children's arts festival called Roola Boola (an anglicisation of the Irish phrase rí rá agus ruaile buaile which in this context means "boisterous fun"). The Royal Theatre and Event Centre, with a capacity of 2200 fully seated, 4000 standing, hosts larger-scale productions and popular music concerts.
There are Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland (Anglican), Elim Pentecostal and Spiritualist churches in the town. There is a Mayo Male Voice Choir and Mayo Concert Orchestra. There is also a marching band in the town - one of the few surviving marching bands west of the Shannon throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Castlebar experienced significant immigration, growth and investment.
Castlebar has a selection of places to eat and drink. There is a broad range of types of food available: Italian (Al Muretto, Portifino Italiano), Indian, Chinese, Irish (An Carraig), Cox's and fast food (Cafollas, Danollas, Blue Thunder, Top Nosh, Supermacs, Dominos Pizza, McDonalds and Apache Pizza) as well as cafes (Cafe Rua, Moka and McCarthys).
A lot of the public houses closed during the building boom during the 1990s. In 1990, Castlebar had 54 licensed premises, although this number had fallen to less than 30 public houses by 2008. Castlebar is a garrison market town; there was a tradition of open air markets mostly selling livestock, which meant there was a healthy daytime drinking trade in Castlebar, but this has disappeared. For a combination of factors since the introduction of the smoking ban and the EU single payment grant to farmers, most public houses offer food to help subsidize the drop in alcohol sales. One of the oldest pubs in Castlebar is John McHale's pub, located on New Line. The pub is known for its sale of a Meejum of Guinness, which is slightly less than a pint. It once officially had 'the best pint of Guinness in Ireland' according to a national tabloid.
County Mayo has some wonderful restaurants. The fresh water lakes of Lough Mask and Lough Conn provide the best in fresh fish, including brown trout, eels, pike and perch. The River Moy to the north near Ballina is renown for its salmon stock. The mountain ranges of Mayo provide some excellent lamb. Given the remoteness of some parts of the county, game is in abundance, including pheasant, snipe, partridge and wild duck. All of which make for the very best in ingredients for the many local and ethnic restaurants dotted all around the county.