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North Mayo Bucket List - Part 2

Black Sod Sea Safari

Now we are going to lead you to the sea.  Mayo boasts the longest stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way with a coastline of 543 kilometres of dramatic cliff faces, beautiful inlets and a seafaring tradition that is thousands of years old. But only three years ago as we emerged out of the Pandemic, Blacksod native Micheál Keane decided to start a new seafaring business, Blacksod Sea Safari.  If I tell you that some of the best days of the last three summers have been spent with Micheál on his boat, I would not be exaggerating.


The first day we met him on Blacksod Pier he brought us across Blacksod Bay to Doogort Beach on Achill Island where we spent the day swimming and having picnics on the beach and a nice pint of the creamy stuff at the Strand Hotel beside the beach before Micheál brought us across the dramatic Bay again as the sun started to set.


Our second journey with Blacksod Sea Safari was even more memorable.  Micheál brought us to the deserted Iniskea islands.  If you want to experience unspoilt rugged beauty you should put this on your bucket list.  The poignant story of why the Iniskea’s were deserted in 1927 will sadden you, especially as you meander through the deserted village and wonder how they could leave such a beautiful place.  But I will let you discover that story for yourself.  What I will say is that both the boat journey and the island are stunning, bring an extra layer of clothing for the boat because it is always colder at sea, bring good walking shoes as the Island will beckon you to explore, bring a good picnic as it’s a long day and you will never swim in a place more pristine than on the Iniskea islands, so bring your swimming togs. Altogether this is a 10 out of 10 experience.


Blacksod Sea Safari also offer Sea Angling Day’s and Wildlife Watching Tours.  Who knew we had so many dolphins and Basking Sharks on our doorstep! (mid-April to early August is the optimum time to see basking sharks).


And this summer, Micheál has bought a new Rigid Inflatable Boat and will be running daily Cliff Tours to the Croaghaun Cliffs, the 3rd largest in Europe.  We are looking forward to experiencing this soon!


Blacksod Sea Safari sail from Blacksod pier which is also home to the Blacksod Light House which played a very important role in the D Day landings of June the 6th 1944.  We highly recommend taking the Lighthouse tour to learn more.


PS.  Just to let you know Blacksod is situated in Mayo’s strongest Gaeltacht region (irish speaking region).  Micheál is a beautiful native speaker so if you would like to hear the beauty of Mayo Irish, he is your man.  He might also recommend Úna’s Bar next door to the pier for a pint or a bite to eat.  Their hospitality is warm and welcoming in true west of Ireland fashion but you might want to phone ahead if you want to ensure your fayre (097) 85675.


Nephin Mountain

No matter where you travel in North Mayo it feels like Nephin Mountain is following you.  It can be viewed from almost everywhere in the region. The name Nephin is believed to derive from the gaelic ‘Neamh Finn’ or Finn’s Heaven and the view from the top, on a clear day is indeed heavenly. Nephin is Ireland’s highest stand-alone mountain at 806 metres and the second-highest peak in Connacht.   A new marked trail has been put in place to take you all the way to the top of the mountain which is fantastic.  So, to get there head towards Lahardane from Crossmolina and use this Google Maps link to the Nephin Car Park. 

However, climbers should ascend with care, in fact we would highly recommend having a guide for the day whether it is the wonderful Rachel Nolan from Rachel’s Irish Adventures 085 1108969 or Brian from @tonntaadventure

And don’t worry, the Spa and Jacuzzi await you here at Mount Falcon after your Nephin endeavour and you can relax and recover as the sun sets on a great day out.


Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head is an incredibly unique destination.  It’s most famous for its sea stack, Dún Briste which means broken fort in gaelic.  It stands at a majestic 45 metres high, 63 metres long and 23 metres wide, just 200 metres offshore.  It is significant because of it geological importance but also for its beauty.

We have always managed to visit here in the height of winter on windy blustery days, but even then, we loved it.  We have picnicked there on several occasions loving the drama of the location.  However, I will recommend wearing good walking shoes to be safe and to keep your children close as it is a sheer cliff face.  We have a huge fondness too for the unusual tufts of grass which cover the top of the cliffs.  They are circular tufts of soft grass and look and feel like green sponges.  

We haven’t managed to do this yet, but I believe that the most magical time to visit Dún Briste is at sunset.  

At Dún Briste, you will marvel at the majesty of nature.

It is even said that it was Saint Patrick himself who is responsible for this geological phenomenon, or it could have been the great storm of 1393.  You can decide which story to go with!


Céide Fields

The World’s most extensive Stone Age monument

Beneath the wild boglands of north Mayo lies a system of fields, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs which together make up the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world.

The stone-walled fields, extending over hundreds of hectares, are the oldest known globally, dating back almost 6,000 years. They are covered by a natural blanket bog with its own unique vegetation and wildlife.


The award-winning visitor centre is set against some of the most dramatic rock formations in Ireland. A viewing platform on the edge of the 110-metre-high cliff will help you make the most of the breath-taking scenery. Come prepared with protective clothing and sturdy footwear, though. The terrain – and the weather – can be challenging.

The Céide Fields is a very special experience and the only one of it’s kind in the world.  

Céide Fields is close to Downpatrick Head and the quaint town of Ballycastle so it is well worth visiting all three sites on the same day and make it a great day out.  Ballycastle also has a lovely beach so if the sun is shining and you have packed your swimming gear and a good book there is no need to hurry back to Mount Falcon until the sun goes down. 


Hennigan’s Heritage Centre

Tom Hennigan has been running his heritage Centre for over 25 years now.  He claims he’s coming to the end of his reign so this might be the last summer of Tom’s unique tours.

Tom Hennigan who is the sixth generation of his family to live at the farm, has collected historical artifacts including agricultural machinery, tools, farm implements, clothes and stories that give an absolute picture of how life was for his family who survived on less than ten acres of poor land for twenty decades. Their story mirrors the story of the lives of local West of Ireland people over the past 200 years.  

His collection is the most unique I have ever seen.  His tour and storytelling are also the best we have been privy to.  Tom’s lifelong work has created a link to a vanishing past, which is a treasure trove for the culturally curious and a must see I would argue for the younger generation.

The Heritage Centre will be opening for the summer season at the end of April 2023.

It is situated in Killasser, 15mins from Mount Falcon.

Pre-booking your tour is essential (+353) 087 2491402

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