Bogs, Beaches and History, a Mini Tour of Mayo

by - Saturday, August 07, 2021

After visiting Mayo for the first time, it's hard to believe how I left it so long. We had a short break in the wild landscapes of North Mayo and even though Donegal has always been my home from home, Mayo was truly stunning also. We stayed in a little cottage with a grass roof, pretty much in the middle of nowhere and with a beach within walking distance. The terrain is wild and free, and dotted with stone and purple heathers and mossy green of hills, as well as sandy beaches.

Doohoma beach near us was one of the most unusual landscapes I've ever seen - it had peatlands and the remains of a prehistoric forest which had been uncovered due to erosion and storms. It's hard to describe how unusual it looks, it's almost like a giant open air art installation. The tree trunks emerge from the sand and the soft bog surfaces feel springy underfoot. We also had the pleasure of a personal escort to the beach by a local dog who did his best to make sure we got there safely :)

Dog on Beach

Doohoma Beach Mayo

Gnarled Yew Doohoma Beach

Doohoma Beach Sunset

There is something truly awesome at being in the presence of such ancient living things - the forest is thought to be almost 8,000 years old.

View out to Sea Doohoma Beach

However, I'm skipping ahead somewhat - before we arrived at our holiday cottage, we visited the Céide Fields at the very north of the county. Unfortunately the visitor centre wasn't open as they are doing renovation works but we walked around and explored the area which contains the 'oldest known stone-walled fields in the world' according to the website. Again, there is something very magical about walking in the footsteps of our ancestors and trying to imagine them working in the wind and the sun, living in tune with the landscape.

View of Sea Mayo

Donkeys at Ceide Fields

Ceide Fields Visitor Centre

The area is abundant with wildflowers and has an incredible view of the ocean and the cliffs. We spotted this little frog bounding through the grass.

Frog at Ceide Fields

The next highlight of our trip was a visit to Ballycroy National Park - you're not likely to ever get tired of the views in Mayo and this was another amazing spot. I'm in love with peatlands and the myriad of wild flowers you can see, as well as obviously being in awe of the carbon sequestration associated with them, and the massive benefit they have for our environment. 
The centre has a little exhibition area and also a great outdoor space for coffee. At the centre itself is a short 2km walk which is all we attempted because it was so incredibly hot on the day we visited and there is no shade at all on the walk. There are, however, longer hikes which can be done in the area and you can see all the details on the website.
It's a glorious walk, the sense of space and sky is so liberating and then, in contrast, you can look down and see the tiniest, most perfect little flowers and soft bog cotton.

Seat at Ballycroy National Park


Bog Cotton Ballycroy

Wildflower Ballycroy National Park

Colours of the Bog Sign

Orchid at Ballycroy

Ginger and Wild is the café and I can really recommend the scones, as well as the view.

Apart from the main events, we did short walks and beach visits and had a picnic in a graveyard.

Graveyard Mayo

Old Church Mayo

We packed in quite a lot during the days and then retired to our little grass roofed cottage. One night we actually ventured to the local pub for a couple of drinks and sat outside and enjoyed the warm air.

Grass Roofed Cottage Mayo

I hope to be back in the future, it was such a lovely experience and we found the Mayo people to be so lovely and chatty and friendly too!




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