Into the West.. Part 1

Ballinrobe Travel Blog

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Sheep well graze anywhere

After a good Irish breakfast courtesy of my mum we jumped in the car and hit the road. I usually have a loop that I do around South West Mayo and into Connemara, back into Galway city and the return to base. On this day beacuse it was high summer and the day was long and I somehow managed to get on the road early I deviated a little, but it's alway worth deviating especially on a fine day.

The first town we hit was Ballinrobe (I grew up on a farm so the nearest town is 6 miles/10km away). It's a busy little hub. Home to about 2000 people. It boasts the only race track in Mayo, so if you like a flutter on the horses there are a few meetings annually.

Another view into Keem Bay.
If you are a keen angler this is a good place to stop. It is in close proximity to three lakes and hosts regular angling competitions. It also has a really nice golf course. It's about 40km north of Galway city on the N84 Route.

From there we continued west trough the countryside heading into Westport. If you follow this route on a clear day look out for the Croagh Patrick in the distance. YOu get some good views. On arrival in Westport (more about Westport later) I deviated from my usual route and heading north towards Newport and Achill. Newport nestles on the edge of Clew Bay and has an amazing stone arch railway bridge (unfortunately I've no pictures of it).

Top of Menaun Heights w/Keem Bay in the distance
We continued on along the edge of the clew bay onto Achill. You get some great views over the bay and the islands. Alledgedly there are 365 islands in Clew bay. One for every day of the year.

Achill, to me, is one of the most beautiful places in the country if not the world. There is plenty to do in Achill. Achill's stunning landscape and rich history offer visitors a wide range of scenic attractions, beauty spots and places of interest. Perfect for exploring on a weekend or short break, Achill always seems to have more places still to see on your next visit. On this trip were only had a couple of hours. First stop was Menaun Heights. Menuan is a mountain that our national phone supplier as a transmitter on top of. Because of this there is a service road that you can take to the top and it gives you stunning views over the landscape and the island.

Playing on the beach at Keem
You can see into Keem Bay and down onto keel strand. Achill island boasts 5 blue fag beaches (The Blue Flag scheme is an international standard for beaches and marinas and is assessed on an annual basis. The criteria for qualification include water quality, environmental education, environmental management, and safety and services.).

After decending the mountain we made our way to the Atlantlic Drive. The Atlantic Drive comprises over 40km of breathtaking coastal scenery that is ideal for touring in a car, and even better by bicycle! On route for the Atlantic Drive is the tower at Kildavnet the remains of a 16th century Irish tower house that was used by the legendary pirate queen Granuaile (Grace O'Malley) The broadway Show, The Pirate Queen was based on her life. We didn't take all the drive because of time constraints so we headed off to Keem Bay, which is right at the end of the island.

View out to Clare Island
 It's a nice secluded beach. The road stops here. You can't go any further. If you go into the water be careful as it gets pretty deep. After snacking here it was onto our last stop of the day on the Island, the Deserted Village.

The Village lies at the base of Slievemore mountain. There are approximately 80 ruined houses in the village. The houses were built of unmortared stone, which means that no cement or mortar was used to hold the stones together. Each house consisted of just one room and this room was used as kitchen, living room, bedroom and even stable. If one looks at the fields around the Deserted Village and right up the mountain, one can see the tracks in the fields of 'lazy beds', which is the way crops like potatoes were grown. In Achill, as in many areas of Ireland, a system called 'Rundale' was used for farming.

The Jagged Coast line
This meant that the land around a village was rented from a landlord. This land was then shared by all the villagers to graze their cattle and sheep. Each family would then have two or three small pieces of land scattered about the village, which they used to grow crops.

For many years people lived in the village and then in 1845 Famine struck in Achill as it did in the rest of Ireland. Most of the families moved to the nearby village of Dooagh, which is beside the sea, while some others emigrated. Living beside the sea meant that fish and shellfish could be used for food. The village was completely abandoned which is where the name 'Deserted Village' came from

From here it was back into the car to return to wesport for lunch and to continue the Journey.
 

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Sheep well graze anywhere
Sheep well graze anywhere
Another view into Keem Bay.
Another view into Keem Bay.
Top of Menaun Heights w/Keem Bay i…
Top of Menaun Heights w/Keem Bay …
Playing on the beach at Keem
Playing on the beach at Keem
View out to Clare Island
View out to Clare Island
The Jagged Coast line
The Jagged Coast line
Clare Island.
Clare Island.
Inlet to a pebble beach.
Inlet to a pebble beach.
Small Cliffs along the coast
Small Cliffs along the coast
Landscape from Menaun Heights.
Landscape from Menaun Heights.
Landscape from Menaun Heights.
Landscape from Menaun Heights.
Keel Strand from Menaun Heights.
Keel Strand from Menaun Heights.
View of Keem Bay.
View of Keem Bay.
60 km (37 miles) traveled
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photo by: maithanfear