Trip idea: Great Western Greenway

Great Western Greenway, County Mayo

Wander west on Ireland’s longest off-road cycling and walking trail along the Wild Atlantic Way.

From historic towns to island adventures and nature havens to breathtaking bays, County Mayo’s Great Western Greenway is a pathway packed with some of Ireland’s best cycling scenery.

Great Western Greenway

Day One

A town teeming with heritage, breathtaking bay views and island adventures fit for a (pirate) queen: experience it all in the scenic 250-year-old town of Westport. 


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Westport House, County Mayo
Westport House

Antiquity and adventure at Westport House

Cycle straight to Westport House in the heart of town and swap your bikes for train carriages with Westport Train Tour. Enjoy a guided jaunt through the gorgeous grounds of Westport House, Westport Quay and the stories and sites of Westport town. Upon your return, set off on a guided tour of the opulent estate for a peek at marble marvels, engrossing exhibitions and the history of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connacht, who once ruled land and sea throughout the area and beyond.


If you have more time

Westport House Activity Centre offers adventurers archery lessons, orienteering expeditions and a 240 metre zip wire ride through picturesque surroundings.

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Granuaile Castle, Clare island
Granuaile Castle

Queenly culture on Clare Island

Board a bus in Westport to Roonagh Pier by Clare Island Ferry during the summer months and be whisked away on the water to Grace O’Malley’s ancient homeland, Clare Island. Wander the island on foot exploring the Pirate Queen’s stone clad fortress, Granuaile Castle; peruse medieval masterpieces in The Abbey church; and explore Ireland’s only two-towered lighthouse, guarding the entrance to Clew Bay. Return to the harbour and enjoy your last look at the island as you journey back to Roonagh Pier by ferry, where a bus awaits to return to Westport. 

If you have more time

Enjoy live music sessions most weekends at Clare Island Community Centre or tuck into tasty food at Sailor’s Bar and Restaurant.

Newport
Newport

Day Two

From regal roots to country house charm, the picturesque town of Newport is a treasure trove of historic sites.

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Newport, County Mayo
Railway viaduct

Beautiful bridges and historic houses in Newport

After a leisurely cycle from Westport to the heritage town of Newport, take the time to admire the seven-arch railway viaduct, spanning the Black Oak river. Refuel in the Georgian gem of Newport House, for home-smoked salmon and seasonal local foods.

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Princess Grace of Monaco ancestral homestead, County Mayo
Princess Grace of Monaco's ancestral home

Humble home of Hollywood royalty

Newport has a rather impressive claim to fame, Princess Grace of Monaco’s ancestral homestead can be found on the edge of the town in Drimurla. Today, a park in her name lies behind these humble cottage ruins where her paternal grandfather, John Kelly, once lived.

If you have more time

In the centre of Newport, admire Harry Clarke’s stained-glass masterpiece, The Last Judgment in St Patrick’s Church.

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Great Western Greenway, County Mayo
Ballycroy National Park

Into the wild at Ballycroy National Park

Throughout July and August, hop aboard the free bus service from Newport to Ballycroy National Park for nature trails, habitat exhibitions and diverse flora and fauna on this blanket bog landscape, laced between the towering beauty of the Nephin Beg mountains.

Don't miss

Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park can be found within Ballycroy National Park. When night falls and the clouds part to reveal the heavens, look up and marvel at the twinkling stars and even meteor showers shining bright for all to see.

Mulranny
Mulranny

Day Three

Nature has nurtured the seaside village of Mulranny with an abundance of flora, fauna and natural beauty sure to inspire all who visit. 

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The Greenway Antiques & Bookstore, County Mayo
The Greenway Antiques & Bookstore

Root for rarities

You never know what treasures you may find at The Greenway Antiques & Book Store. Situated in Mulranny town, this quaint thatched cottage stocks a sweet selection of rare books and ornate antiques, offering an array of unique keepsakes of your cycling journey.

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Mulranny, County Mayo
Mulranny town

Walk amongst wild wonders

Beginning from Mulranny Park Hotel, Mulranny Loop ‘Lookout Hill’ is one of three scenic walking trails traversing Trawoughter Bay along the village’s unique causeway. Expect woodland, beaches, dunes and a sea lavender-strewn salt marsh, along with stunning views of Clew Bay against the backdrop of Croagh Patrick mountain.

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Great Western Greenway, County Mayo
Great Western Greenway trail

Artistic inspiration

Stop for a bite to eat at The Dánlann Yawl Art Gallery, Painting School & Coffee Shop in Owenduff, just outside Mulranny. Should inspiration strike amidst these mountain views and seascapes, weekly painting workshops are held in The Old Stable Studio with trips to Achill Island on occasion.

Achill Island
Achill Island

Day Four

Achill Island has attracted artists, writers and adventurers for centuries - and it’s no wonder, with its abundant beaches, rugged sea cliffs and untouched wilderness.

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The Tower at Kildavet, Achill Island
The Tower at Kildavnet

Stone strongholds and medieval marvels

The Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley, marked these lands as her own with The Tower at Kildavnet guarding the passage between Clew Bay and Blacksod Bay. A stone's throw away, you will find the remains of a 12th century chapel, thought to be built upon the original site of St Dympna's church from the 7th century. 

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The Deserted Village, Achill Island
The deserted village

The vacant village

Walking amongst the remains of The Deserted Village at Slievemore is an eerie experience, with over 80 stone cottages standing in ruin as the wind whistles through the tumbled stone. Some of these buildings were summer homes (booleys) abandoned not long ago - but look out for the megalithic tombs that date back over 5,000 years. There are ancient secrets to be found here…

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Achill Island Experience Centre, photography: Richard Thorn
Achill Experience Centre - Image: ©Richard Thorn

Dive into Achill’s wildlife and history

The Achill Experience Centre is stocked to the brim with creatures of the deep, insightful details about the island’s history and artistic inspiration discovered here by famous painters and writers.

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Keem Bay, Achill Island
Keem Bay

Beautiful bay views and basking sharks

Along your way to Keem Bay, stop for a hearty meal at Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant. As the road twists and turns, Croaghaun mountain comes into view, painting a clear picture of just why Keem Bay is known as one of the most picturesque and tranquil coves in Ireland. Look closely and you might be lucky enough to spot basking sharks in the shallows…

Don't miss

Last seen in 1984, Dooagh beach reemerged from its watery slumber in April 2017, after a stormy ocean blessed the bay with golden sands. In July of each year, Achill celebrates its rich heritage and seafood splendour with Féile na Mara (The Festival of the Sea). The Gourmet Greenway food trail culminates here in Achill, celebrating artisan food producers throughout the Great Western Greenway. 

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