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[ Date: July 23, 2017 02:56 am ]

What to do for FREE

MUSEUM OF COUNTRY LIFE, TURLOUGH PARK HOUSE

Tel: 094 903 1755   Web: www.museum.ie
Email: tpark@museum.ieTurlough House

(One of the National Museums of Ireland)

Admission FREE

What is it – The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life is set in modern exhibition galleries in the spectacular grounds of Turlough Park House and surrounded by magnificent gardens and a lake. It has some permanent and temporary exhibitions. The award-winning Museum of Country Life is home to the National Folklife Collection. With exhibitions spread over four floors, the Museum gives its visitors a unique opportunity to see how the people of Ireland lived in the hundred years between the Great Famine and the end of the 1950s

Some of the permanent exhibitions are:

  • Romanticism & Reality – About the reality of life in rural Ireland compared to the perception of it
  • The Natural Environment – How life in rural Ireland was influenced by the landscape
  • The Times – covers post famine times, incorporating The Land War, The Land League and Home Rule
  • Trades & Crafts – The skills and crafts passed down from generation to generation and how the tools used evolved.
  • Activities in the Home – Deals with building, maintaining and furnishing a house and explores feeding and clothing the family and the trades and crafts that helped maintain them
  • Working on the Land and Water – This explores the activities such as saving turf, cultivating potatoes and cereals and managing livestock

Opening Times

Open Tuesday – Saturday – 10am – 5pm
Open Sunday – 2pm – 5pm
Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays, Christmas Day & Good Friday)

Parking

  • There is a large free car park on site, including several designated disabled parking spaces. Car parking at the Museum is free of charge.
  • Disabled passengers may be set down and picked up at the front of the main house.

Information Desks

  • There are two Information desks: one is located inside the reception area of the main House, and the second can be found inside the Museum Galleries entrance on Level

Toilets

  • Toilet facilities are located in three locations: in the Museum Galleries on level A (the entrance level, near the Information desk); on level C (near the Education Rooms); and in Turlough Park House near the café and gift shop. There are wheelchair accessible toilets at each of these locations

Eating & Drinking

  • No food or drink is permitted within the Museum Exhibition Galleries.
  • There is a café in Turlough Park House. The café is all on one level and may be accessed from an external courtyard. Alternatively the café is accessible from the gift shop using a lift system or through an entrance on the lower level. There is a range of seating available in the café including outdoor seating in the courtyard in suitable weather. If you would like to bring a picnic, there are several tables and chairs available on the Museum grounds.

THE JACKIE CLARKE COLLECTION

Pearse St, Ballina, Mayo   Tel: 096 73508
Web: www.clarkecollection.ie

Admission FREE

Jackie Clarke Collection

What is it – Jackie Clarke (1927 – 2000) was a Ballina business man and a genius collector of Irish historical material. In 2005 his widow, Mrs. Anne Clarke, gifted his collection to Mayo County Council for the people of Ballina, Mayo and Ireland.

It is the most important private collection of Irish history material in public hands, comprising over 100,000 items spanning 400 years. It includes artefacts associated with Theobald Wolfe Tone; letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa. It also contains rare books, proclamations, posters, political cartoons, pamphlets, handbills, works by Sir John Lavery, maps, hunger strike material and personal items from Leaders of the 1916 Rising.

The main parts of the exhibition are:

  • Ireland’s Memory – this exhibit showcases the treasures with an inter-active touch screen, illustrating and detailing hundreds more items. Adjacent is an original 1916 Proclamation
  • The Collector – this exhibition presents a short film on how Jackie Clarke collected and displays some key items that illustrate his genius for finding rare and unique material
  • Maps – Jackie Clarke loved maps for the information they contained. His maps were companions to be read alongside other documents. The collection contains maps that from the 1600’s to the late 1900’s
  • Library – this beautiful room holds volumes from Jackie Clarke’s book collection and two interactive touch screens featuring some of his books – book of the month and travel books
  • Prints & Posters – the political cartoons and posters provide critical summaries of the political climate from the 19th and 20th centuries. The messages bring you back instantly to the era depicted.
  • Newspapers – Jackie Clarke, the son of Newsagents, loved newspapers. In the newspaper room, send an e-postcard, browse papers from four centuries and read world news stories on the interactive touch screen.
  • Memory Room – The memory room is an evocative space, where images of Ireland’s past are projected on the walls. A memory pod has been created for people to record their own memories inspired by the collection.

Opening Hours

February & March – Limited hours (Tuesday – Friday 2pm – 4pm)
Saturday – by appointment
From April 2nd – Tuesday – Saturday 10pm – 5pm

Tours

From April 2nd general tours will be available daily at 11.30 and 2.30.
Specialist Guided Tours for groups of more than 3 people can be
booked in advance by emailing clarkecollection@mayococo.ie
or phone on 096 73508.

 

 

BALLYCROY NATIONAL PARK

Ballycroy, Westport, Co. Mayo   Tel: 098 49888
Web: www.ballycroynationalpark.ie

Admission Free

Ballycroy National Park

What is it Ballycroy National Park was established in November 1998, it is Ireland’s sixth National Park and is located on the Western seaboard in northwest Mayo. It comprises of 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range.

To the west of the mountains is the Owenduff bog. This is one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and Western Europe and is an important scientific and scenic feature of the National Park. The Park also protects a variety of other important habitats and species. These include alpine heath, upland grassland, heath and lakes and river catchments. Greenland White-fronted geese, Golden plover, Red Grouse and Otters are just some of the important fauna found within the Park. The National Park is itself part of the Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). These European designations are part of the Natura 2000 Network, which protect rare and important habitats and species under the EU Habitats and Birds Directive.

Some of the attractions at the park are:

  • Interactive Exhibition – In the visitor centre, on the habitats of Ballycroy National Park and the surrounding area
  • Myth & Folk Exhibition – In the visitor centre, which details mythical beings such as mermaids and leprechauns and gives recipes for dishes such as boxty and soda bread
  • Nature Trail & Pond – which has an interpretation panel and a viewing point
  • Wildlife – This is one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and Western Europe and is an important scientific and scenic feature of the National Park.
  • Flora – A variety of interesting plants are found within the bog habitat.
  • Fauna – Mammal species found in the Park include the fox, badger, mountain hare, otter, and feral American mink, pygmy shrew and bat species including the most common bat found in Ireland, the pipestrelle. Non-native red deer, which were introduced in the locality of Bellacorick in recent years, can now be found on the margins of the Park
  • The Bangor Trail – The Bangor Trail itself has a long history and may date back to 16th century. Landlords were responsible for the maintenance of the sections of the trail that passed through their land. The trail was used as the main route for people and livestock before the introduction of modern roads between the Bangor Erris region and Newport. Emigrants travelling from Bangor Erris to Westport would have used this trail.

Opening Hours
21st March 2013 – 30th September 2013
Open Daily from 10.00am – 5.30pm

 

OLD RAILWAY WALK FROM THE QUAY TO WESTPORT TOWN WITH SKATE PARK EN ROUTE

The Westport Greenway goes by a number of names, a hint at its huge popularity. It’s known locally as The Old Railway Line Walk, An Bealach Glas (Irish Gaelic for greenway) and also Westport Slí na Sláinte.

It’s a beautiful tree-lined 2.5km straight-line walking and cycling trail which links Westport’s two urban areas: The town centre, which, other than shops, pubs, restaurants, galleries and more, also contains the main civic spaces of the Octagon, the Clock and the Carrowbeg river with the Quay area which was once a thriving commercial port and has enjoyed recent rejuvenation as a major tourism base.

The Westport Greenway follows the route of the old railway line which was used to transport goods to and from the ships at the Quay to the town’s railway station and beyond. It offers users traffic-free cycling and walking, as well as impressive views of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay.

It passes by many Westport attractions including the Westport Skate Park, Astroturf pitch and playground and is a beautiful way to get from one part of the town to the other. It’s also home to a number of interesting local ideas, from a community orchard to, believe it or not, an insect hotel.

The Westport Greenway also connects with the National Coastal Trail, a path which connects Westport Quay with Murrisk and Croagh Patrick, and there are already plans in place to link this Greenway to the Great Western Greenway.

 

CROAGH PATRICK – THE HOLY MOUNTAIN AND VISITOR CENTRE

Teach Na Miasa, Murrisk, Co. Mayo   Email: info@croagh-patrick.com
Tel: 098 64114

Where is Croagh Patrick?

Croagh Patrick is situated near the town of Westport in County Mayo, Ireland.  The main pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. The Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Teach na Miasa, is situated in Murrisk on the Pilgrim’s path at the base of Croagh Patrick mountain and opposite the National Famine Monument.

Croagh Patrick, which overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland.

The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Its religious significance dates back to the time of the pagans, when people are thought to have gathered here to celebrate the beginning of harvest season.

Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation. The Black Bell of Saint Patrick was a highly venerated relic on Croagh Patrick for many years.

The first stop on the pilgrimage is Saint Patrick’s statue erected in 1928 by Reverend Father Patterson with money he collected in America towards the rebuilding of Saint Mary’s Church in Westport.

Each year, The Reek, as it is colloquially known, attracts about 1 million pilgrims. On ‘Reek Sunday’, the last Sunday in July, over 25,000 pilgrims visit the Reek. At the top, there is a modern chapel where mass is celebrated and confessions are heard. Individuals and groups come from all over the world and include pilgrims, hill climbers, historians, archaeologists and nature lovers.

The other traditional Pilgrimage days are the last Friday of July which is known locally as ‘Garland Friday’, and August 15th which is the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven.

Magnificent views of Clew Bay and the surrounding south Mayo countryside are spectacular from all stages of the ascent of the mountain. It is one of the highest peaks in the West of Ireland. It rises 750 metres (2,500 feet) into the sky above County Mayo

Need To Know

How high above sea level is Croagh Patrick?

Croagh Patrick rises to a height of 762m above sea level.

How long does the climb take?

Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend. What equipment is necessary for the climb? It is advisable to take sturdy footwear, rainwear and some drinking water. Climbing sticks are for sale at the Centre.

Can I take my car part of the way?

You may drive to the car park at the Information Centre, but from there its foot power only. What does ‘Teach na Miasa’ mean? It means the house of the dishes. The road on which the centre is built is known as ‘Bóthar na Miasa’ – ‘ The road of the dishes ‘ and it is reputed that the monks of nearby Murrisk Abbey washed their utensils in the stream which runs alongside.

What services are provided at the Centre?

The Centre provides the following facilities: restaurant, information services. Guided tours of the mountain. Packed lunches. Secure lockers, craft shop, shower facilities (for a nominal fee).

 

WESTPORT LEISURE PARK

James Street, Westport, Co. Mayo   Tel: 098 29160
Web: www.westportleisure.com

Westport Leisure Park

A team of over thirty fully qualified health and fitness professionals are responsible for the day to day operation of Westport Leisure Park.

The facility is run to very high standards and has been awarded The ILAM White Flag each year since the inauguration of the award.  In October 2012 it received its 12th White Flag together with a 4th Gold Standard Award for Disability Provision. The quality of the facilities is second to none.

The Fitness Suite (Gym) is home to the ground-breaking Techno-Gym System. The spacious, fully equipped, air-conditioned suite has over 2,000 sq. ft of space for users and over 30 pieces of fitness equipment

The Westport Leisure Park has something for everyone:

Free facilities for guests of The Harbour Mill include:

  • 25m Swimming Pool with disabled hoist
  • Children’s Fun Pool
  • Three Changing Areas – Male, Female and Spacious Family/Disabled
  • Air-conditioned Fitness Suite
  • Health Spa area with Sauna, Jacuzzi and Steam room
  • Plunge Pool

Opening Hours

Open 7 days a week – Free for guests of The Harbour Mill
Subject to timetable & availability – check with reception

 

ABBEYS

Ballintubber Abbey: Why not take a drive to the historical Ballintubber Abbey, about a 30 minute drive from Westport. It was founded by King Cathal Crovdearg O’Conor – Cathal Mór of the wine-red hand. He was of the royal race of the O’Connors. Many local and famous people have had their weddings here such as Pierce Brosnan and Shane Filan. For more information go to www.ballintubberabbey.ie

Murrisk Abbey: Just a 20 minute drive from The Harbour Mill and nestled beneath the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick is Murrisk Abbey, it was founded by Father Hugh O’Malley in 1457. Why not stroll around the abbey and take in the hundreds of years of history it has to offer. For more information go to www.croaghpatrickheritagetrail.com/heritage/murrisk-abbey/

Burrishoole Abbey: Burrishoole Abbey was founded in 1470 and is a National Monument. It is located a few kilometers from Newport town (which is about 15 minute drive from Westport). It is serene and idyllic and looks over a small lake that is dotted with elegant swans. For more information go to mulranny.ie/sightseeing/burrishoole-abbey/

 

SCENIC DRIVES

Westport to Achill Island: Why not head to Achill Island (about a 40 minute journey) and while there take in some of the scenic drives that will take your breath away. For more information go to www.achilltourism.com/atlanticdrive.html

Westport to Connemara: This beautiful drive takes you through Louisburgh, Leenane, Maam Cross, Clifden and Letterfrack. It truly is breathtaking countryside. For more information go to http://www.discoverireland.ie/Activities-Adventure/westport-connemara-driving-tour/46824 

 

BEACHES

Beaches near Westport

Bertra Blue Flag beach

Near the foot of Croagh Patrick, 12 km (7 miles) west of Westport on the Louisburgh Road (R335), Bertra beach is one of the best beaches in Ireland for walking and bird-watching, as well as kite-surfing and windsurfing.

Walk along the wide strand, on a mixture of sandy or occasionally rocky stretches, or along the sometimes narrow paths in the dunes. This Blue Flag beach has a lifeguard in the summer month; there are also toilet facilities there. The north-eastern point of the beach, farthest away from the car park, is a popular spot for shore-angling.

Old Head Blue Flag beach

For a picturesque beach, Ireland offers very few to beat Old Head, 16 km (10 miles) west of Westport on the Louisburgh Road (R335). Overlooked by woodland to the west and Croagh Patrick to the south and east, this Blue Flag beach has beautiful rock-pools that are exposed when the tide is out.

The beach is sheltered from the south and west and is therefore well-suited for swimming. Lifeguards are on duty through the summer months, the beach is accessible for wheelchairs, as are the toilets. There is a pier at the western end of the beach, sheltering a small anchorage popular with local sailors and fishermen.

Carrowmore Blue Flag beach

1.5 km (under 1 mile) from Louisburgh, 25 km (16 miles) west of Westport, lies Carrowmore beach, overlooked by cliffs where various seabirds nest. There are lifeguards in the summer, as well as toilets, though there are no ramps or other facilities for disabled people. There is a pier at the west end of this Blue Flag beach, while the eastern border is the mouth of the Bunowen River.

Carrowniskey Green Coast beach

Carrowniskey, noted for its surf and considered one of the best beaches in Mayo for learning to surf, lies about 29 km (18 miles) west of Westport and 7.5 km (4.7 miles) west and south of Louisburgh. The beach is wide and sandy at low tide; at high tide, the water reaches the rocks. There is a surfing school that offers lessons and rents surfboards and wetsuits. There are lifeguards in the summer. Unusually for beaches in Mayo, foot protection in the water is advised, because of weaver fish.

Mulranny Blue Flag beach

Across the road from the Park Inn, on the west end of Mulranny village, a causeway and wooden bridge across Trawoughter Bay lead to Mulranny beach, which has picnic facilities and toilets, as well as a lifeguard during the summer months.

Inland from the beach is a rare large saltwater marsh, with typical species such as thrift, sea plaintain, saltmarsh grass, rushes and sedges, sea pimpernel with glasswort and annual seablite further down towards the sea. The marsh also features various shorebirds, including curlew, widgeon, grey plover, godwits, oyster-catchers, dunlins, sand pipers, terns and gulls.

There is also a small car park at the beach. To reach the car park, take the first left after the village and continue less than a half a kilometre to the entrance, following the signs.

 

Beaches on Achill island

The five Blue Flag beaches on Achill Island, a 45 minute drive from Westport, add considerably to Achill’s attraction as a day trip from Westport

Dooega Blue Flag beach

Just 8 kilometres from Achill Sound, is Camport Bay. Parking is available, and there is an access ramp, as well as life-saving equipment on the beach, but no lifeguard.

Keel Blue Flag beach

Also known as Trawmore Strand is approximately 4 kilometres long. It is well signposted in the village of Keel, on Achill Island. There is a lifeguard in the summer; swimming areas are clearly marked, to avoid strong undersea currents in places. The beach is very popular for water sports, and surfing instruction is readily available. Though the approach from the ample car park is relatively flat, making wheelchair access to the beach reasonably easy, there are no wheelchair-accessible toilets at the beach. There is one at the adjacent campground.

Keem Blue Flag beach

Is 10km (just over 6 miles) west of Keel village on Achill Island and is one of the most famous in Ireland. The road ends at the car park after a spectacular winding drive overlooking the Atlantic. The beautiful horseshoe bay is overlooked by Croaghaun Mountain to the northeast and Moyteoge Head to the southwest. There is a lifeguard in the summer and a fairly steep ramp down from the car park, but no wheelchair-accessible toilet.

Dugort Blue Flag beach

Also known as Pollawaddy Strand and Silver Strand, lies in the shadow of Slievemore Mountain, next to Dugort village on Achill Island. There is a lifeguard in the summer. Grassy areas behind the beach provide shelter, and there is a parking area with a picnic tables.

Golden Strand Blue Flag beach

Is about 3 km (just under 2 miles) east of Dugort village on Achill Island. It has a lifeguard in the summer. Behind the pebble-strewn upper limit of the sandy beach, the dunes host a variety of native plants and wildlife. There is a car park, but the beach is not wheelchair-accessible.

 

KNOCK SHRINE

Knock, Co. Mayo    Web: www.knock-shrine.ie   Tel: 094 9388100

On the wet Thursday evening of the 21st August, 1879, at about 8 o’clock, Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared in a blaze of Heavenly light at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Behind them and a little to the left of St. John was a plain altar. On the altar was a cross and a lamb with adoring angels. The Apparition was seen by fifteen people whose ages ranged from six years to seventy-five and included men, women and children.

The witnesses described the Blessed Virgin Mary as being clothed in white robes with a brilliant crown on her head. Over the forehead where the crown fitted the brow, she wore a beautiful full-bloom golden rose. She was in an attitude of prayer with her eyes and hands raised towards Heaven. St. Joseph stood on Our Lady’s right. He was turned towards her in an attitude of respect. His robes were also white. St. John was on Our Lady’s left. He was dressed in white vestments and resembled a bishop, with a small mitre. He appeared to be preaching and he held an open book in his left hand.

The witnesses watched the Apparition in pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary. Although they themselves were saturated not a single drop of rain fell on the gable or vision.

Two Commissions of Enquiry, in 1879 and 1936, accepted their testimony as trustworthy and satisfactory.

Today, Knock ranks among the world’s major Marian Shrines