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I didn’t, until I took a trip around the bay with Adventure Islands. My nose almost looked like Lennon’s, too, after a chiselling by the wind.) Or perhaps you’re an angler and would prefer a gentler interaction with the waters and the wild of west Mayo? If so, there’s no better starting point than Ballina, the so-called Salmon Capital of Ireland. Bisected by the River Moy, Ballina hosts an annual salmon festival every July (ballinasalmonfestival.ie). The Moy itself is Ireland’s most prolific game fishery – so book those fly-fishing beats well in advance. Finally, there is Croagh Patrick. Rising like a volcano over the town of Westport, this was where St Patrick reputedly fasted for 40 days. It remains the scene of an annual pilgrimage on the last Sunday in July (Reek Sunday), when more ardent devotees climb the mountain in bare feet. Loose scree leading up to
the 762m summit doesn’t make this easy, of course – wear sturdy boots if you’re hoping to engage in any other activities once you descend. In fact, wear sturdy boots if you’re hoping to descend, fullstop. Croagh Patrick is regularly ensconced d iin cloud l d but when the views are clear from its summit, they’re breathtaking. If you make it there this month, look over Clew Bay towards Achill Island. Legend has it that St Patrick took time out from his fast on the mountain to do the same thing, blessing Keem Bay. I wonder what he’d have made of the kitesurfers?
Top, Mayo boasts a long history of marine pursuits; above, a statue of St Patrick looks out from Downpatrick Head.
enture Kingdom/Adventure Islands: The WesT on The Web ... Mayo: Adv st: adventurewest.ie; Clew bay bike hire: theadventureislands.com; Adventure We e.ie nn: email@example.com; Coláiste UIsCe: uisc clewbayoutdoors.ie; Tomás Mac Lochlái 56 |
If you’re looking for a spot of pampering after being blown about the Atlantic, look no further than knockranny House Hotel, a sumptuous manor house hotel. Set on a hill overlooking Westport, Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay, rooms are luxurious without being OTT, there’s an award-winning chef at work in La Fougère restaurant, and Spa Salveo combines a lengthy treatment list with a mosaic-tiled vitality pool and a suite of steam rooms, monsoon showers and a herbal sauna. (098 28 600; khh.ie) The Irish-speaking Mullet Peninsula is amongst the leastvisited corners of Ireland, which is a sshame for local tourism, but an absolute blessing for intrepid travellers. From walks on erris Head to kitesurfing in elly Bay, from the 6,000-year-old Céide fields to golf links at Carne, it’s a true hidden gem. The Broadhaven Bay Hotel offers a three-star base in Belmullet, with a pool, bar, restaurant and competitive special offers. (097 20 600; broadhavenbay.com) broadhavenbay.com Sitting under Slievemore Si Mountain at the heart of Achill Mo Island, pure Magic offers budget Isla accommodation in rooms themed acco to evoke the great kitesurfing regions of the world. Think regi Morocco, Brazil and Hawaii – with Mo ap pool room, restaurant, live music, crackling fires and freshly mu baked brioches thrown in to boot. There’s a stunning view over keel lake (where kitesurfing lessons take place) too. From €35 per night including breakfast. (085 243 9782; puremagic.ie/achill) Pure Magic