Explore County Mayo
County Mayo is the third largest county in Ireland and is named after the village of Mayo, which these days is known as Mayo Abbey and has a population of less than 500. The county town is Castlebar, which is significantly larger at around 10,000. Mayo is a remote, sparsely populated county with a landscape of boglands, lakes and mountains. Among its many islands there are some real gems. Achill Island is reached by a small causeway, and is the largest of Ireland’s islands. Its economy depends mainly on tourism as little of it can be cultivated, being mostly mountain or bogland.
The cliffs at Keel have weird rock formations, and boats can be hired to get the most of the dramatic scenery. There are also plenty of stone circles and dolmens dotted about inland.
Clare Island is in Clew Bay, and rises to a height of around 1600 feet (500m). It is popular with walkers, anglers, sailors, divers and nature watchers; wildlife includes dolphins, seals, otters, and the rarely sighted chough. A square tower on the island was the HQ of Grace O’Malley, the 16th-century pirate who declared herself Queen of Clew Bay.