Sitting out in the wild Atlantic Ocean, Downpatrick Head is an area of unrivalled coastal beauty and historical importance…
Just a few miles north of Ballycastle village, County Mayo, is the the windswept outcrop of Downpatrick Head. This is the perfect place to park up and stretch your legs with an invigorating coastal walk.
The name Downpatrick is derived from a time when St Patrick himself founded a church here. You can still see the ruins of the church building, a stone cross and holy well here today. This was once a popular pilgrim destination, and today the crowds still gather here on the last Sunday of July – known as Garland Sunday – to hear mass at this sacred site.
The St Patrick connections don’t end there though. Gazing out to sea, you’ll no doubt spot the small collection of islands called the Staggs of Broadhaven, but you’ll also see a lone sea-stack standing close to the edge of the cliffs. This sea-stack is called Dún Briste (broken fort). Local legend says that when a pagan chieftain refused to convert to Christianity, St Patrick struck the ground with his crozier, splitting a chunk of the headland off into the ocean, with the chieftain on top! The sea stack is beautiful to behold because you can see the layers upon layers of multi-coloured rock strata.
Fast-forward through the centuries and Downpatrick Head became a lookout post during WWII. You can still see the stone building there today. Another intrigue of the area is Poll Na Seantainne: this is a spectacular blowhole that plummets down to the tempestuous ocean below.
While in the area make sure to take the short drive out to visit the Céide Fields Visitor Centre in Ballycastle. The Céide Fields is the oldest known Stone Age field system in Europe. The remains of ancient stonewalls, settlements and megalithic tombs have been preserved here thanks to a protective bog environment. Truly awe-inspiring stuff.
With legs fully stretched and minds expanded, it’s time to hit the road again and get back on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Geographical coordinates: Latitude 54° 19' 33.49; longitude 9° 20' 44.45
(note, if you use your car’s GPS to go directly to this point, you may not always remain on the Wild Atlantic Way route.)
Think a friend might enjoy this article? Click to save and share
Save this page to a Scrapbook:
Save this page to your Scrapbook:
You have Scrapbooks created. Click below to see all of your saved pages.
Create a new Scrapbook:
This page has been save to your Scrapbook
Crystal clear waters, sandy white strands and ancient secrets set in stone: explore the captivating sights of County...
Experience a rugged landscape that hosts flourishing wildlife, historic curiosities and occasionally, Star Wars film...
Take a breather on your Wild Atlantic Way adventure to experience Mizen Head. Here, at the edge of Europe, there’s a...
Facing out onto the Atlantic Ocean, Killary Harbour is in the heart of Connemara
From towering cliffs to serene sands - this is the stuff that dreams are made of
From $1249 per person, based on 2 traveling
from $2,520. Call 1-800-833-4373
From $2499 per person
Book online and save 20%. Prices from $7.20 for children to $14.50 for adults
$1,420 per person
From $600 per person/per day
From $998. Includes 4 star properties, automatic car and more. Save 30% thru 9/30/19.
From $1120 pps
From $1,379 per person sharing.
From $1399 pp
From $2,876. Passionate Travel Directors and local experts. Book now to receive 2019 pricing on 2020 trips.
From $1999 pp
From $1,895. Book now and save
Offers from $22.00
From $1,459 pp
$1,299 Per Person
From $1,049 & up
From $2,140 pps
Offers from $799.00
$49.95 per person including entertainment, 4 course meal & house wine.
From $40 pps
From $2405 per person
Vacation ideas, news, offers… sign up for our newsletter and we’ll keep you in touch with Ireland.
Excited your interest? There are airports throughout the Island with international arrivals. Discover airlines flying to Ireland from your location.
Sign-up for the latest information on great offers, holiday hot spots and events across Ireland
Look out for our newsletter in your inbox.
Unfortunately there was a problem signing you up for E-Zine, please click the button below to try again or refresh the page.
Want to know more? Ask a question in our Community, they're the people who know Ireland best.
For more information on travel, accommodation and attractions have a look at our brochures and maps.
If you’re a visitor from the island of Ireland you may want to visit one of these sites… Otherwise proceed to Ireland.com
Share this link