Barry’s Blog

Bingham of Castlebar, Earls of Lucan

Bingham of Castlebar, Earls of Lucan

If you ask a person with only a passing interest in the history of landlordism in County Mayo for a single surname, they’re quite likely to give you Bingham, or their adopted title, Lucan. Sir Richard Bingham (above, 1528 – 1599) became Governor of Connacht under...

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Santa Margarida Volcano in Catalunya

Santa Margarida Volcano in Catalunya

As we reach the lower slopes of Santa Margarida volcano, we’re some 3 ½ hours and 9 km into our first day of beautiful, easy-going walking in Catalunya. With barely anybody else around and lovely shade-giving trees as constant companions, we’re already wonderfully...

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Ballymunnelly Bridge to Ballycastle Loop, a Hike and Bike

Ballymunnelly Bridge to Ballycastle Loop, a Hike and Bike

Embarking on my Ballymunnelly Bridge to Ballycastle loop, the wind was in my face as I cycled eastwards towards Crossmolina. Not too strong, thankfully, but capable of slowing me nevertheless. The sun was shining beautifully as I approached Bellacorick’s famous...

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Annagh Marsh to Cross Abbey Walk

Annagh Marsh to Cross Abbey Walk

As I watched 34 Lapwings in the air at once, thoughts turned to moving on and beginning my (mostly) beach walk from Annagh Marsh to Cross Abbey, along the western shore of The Mullet peninsula. I had spent over an hour enjoying these beautiful birds, along with Mute...

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Welcome to my New Website

Welcome to my New Website

“Whatever you do, don’t launch a new website if you’ve nothing to offer”, I heard them screaming from the wings. Hmm. Welcome to my new website and business name, Barry’s Guided Tours. As you browse my tours, one thing will quickly jump out at you : Several of them...

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Look Out Posts of County Mayo

Look Out Posts of County Mayo

During the early years of World War II, a series of Look Out Posts (LOPs) was constructed along the coast of neutral Ireland. In total, 83 of these little huts were put in place to watch out over the seas, report back to Army Intelligence HQ and, notably, to recover...

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Napoleonic Signal Towers of Mayo

Napoleonic Signal Towers of Mayo

Also known simply as Napoleonic Towers, or Signal Towers, 8 of these structures were built by the British authorities in County Mayo during the first decade of the 19th Century. The late 18th and early 19th Century was a particularly active period in the fraught...

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Clonfert Cathedral, a Medieval Masterpiece

Clonfert Cathedral, a Medieval Masterpiece

Clonfert Cathedral is a difficult place to find, but a visit sure is worth it. Hidden in labyrinthine east County Galway, near the broad majestic Shannon, it was a foggy December morning when I laid eyes on this very special place. St Brendan's Cathedral's 12th...

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Guided Walking Tour in Spain

Guided Walking Tour in Spain

They start with the kids and it’s wonderful. The colour is part and parcel of the tradition, with each group displaying its own version of the basic ensemble –tight trousers, bright top and broad black, stretchable waist support band. A castell is a human...

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Killary Famine Walk at Rosroe

Killary Famine Walk at Rosroe

Leaving the N59 between Leenane and Kylemore, we turn right onto the minor road L5102, marked Tullycross, to head to the Killary Famine Walk at Rosroe. On the way, we pass Lough Fee and the former house of Sir William Wilde, father of Oscar. Beyond, at Salruck, stands...

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Ancient Church at Kilcummin

Ancient Church at Kilcummin

The little ancient church at Kilcummin, near Killala in North Mayo, is well worth a detour. It was a beautiful crisp day when I visited in January. Kilcummin (not to be confused with Kilcommon, further west towards Belmullet) is a place of some historical importance,...

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Day Out by Lough Conn

Day Out by Lough Conn

The beautiful Early Marsh Orchids greeted us by the sparkling lake shore at Errew. We fancied a day out by Lough Conn and had come to discover the ruined medieval Augustinian Priory at the end of the wonderful peninsula that juts more than half way across the lake. On...

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Monasteries of the River Moy

Monasteries of the River Moy

Flowing just 103km from source to sea, the modest Moy isn't the longest river found entirely within Connacht. That title belongs to the Suck, which runs for over 130km before entering the Shannon below Ballinasloe. Along with its salmon fishery, however, it is the...

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9 Great Beaches of County Mayo

9 Great Beaches of County Mayo

A wild, windy and often wet coastal county, boasting particularly spectacular sea cliff landscapes, Mayo is also home to some of the finest beaches in Ireland. Caressed (more often, pounded) by the North Atlantic, 8 of these 9 great beaches of county Mayo offer...

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Day Out in North Mayo

Day Out in North Mayo

When I plan a day out in North Mayo, my mind usually pictures a great multi-hour hike along its spectacular ocean cliffs. But it’s sometimes fabulous to simply jump in the car and take in more of this little-visited but wonderful part of the country. So, the other...

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An Afternoon Walking in the South of France

An Afternoon Walking in the South of France

The simple joys of an afternoon walking in the South of France ... Having exited our gorgeous forest track, a lovely quiet car-free road led us the last 500m into Varaire. As we dawdled by its cute little houses and their wonderful gardens of fig trees and flowers, we...

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Coastline of County Mayo

Coastline of County Mayo

The Spectacular Coastline of County Mayo From the Killary fjord in the south to the estuary of the River Moy in the north, the coastline of County Mayo is a magnificent mix of awesome cliffs, dry-stone walled fields, blanket bog, mid-sized mountains and stupendous...

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Urlaur Priory in East Mayo

Urlaur Priory in East Mayo

Urlaur Priory near Kilmovee, East County Mayo Dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas, Urlaur Priory (Urlaur Abbey) was founded in the early 1430s during the last years of the pontificate of Martin V. This foundation was ‘irregular’, as no permission had been obtained from...

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Keenagh Loop Walk in the Bogs of West Mayo

Keenagh Loop Walk in the Bogs of West Mayo

If you’re looking for a walk that represents west Mayo well, without the extra effort of climbing a mountain, then Keenagh Loop Walk may fit the bill. Be sure to bring along at least one walking pole to test the ground’s solidity in front of you as you go, as some...

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Spanish Armada and Mayo

Spanish Armada and Mayo

1588 - The Spanish Armada and Mayo In May 1588, King Philip II of Spain sent his armada of ships towards the English Channel, under the command of Alonso Pérez de Gúzman, Duke of Medina-Sidonia (a municipality near Cádiz in Andalusia). Of the 130 or 132 that departed...

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Balla to Ballintubber Walk

Balla to Ballintubber Walk

From Round Tower to Abbey Our round towers and abbeys are among the most visible still extant reminders of early and medieval Christian Ireland. While the former date from the 9th to 11th centuries, what remain of our medieval abbeys tend to be from the 12th to 15th....

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What Now for the Wild Nephin Farce?

What Now for the Wild Nephin Farce?

Coillte has exited, so what now for the 'Wild Nephin' farce? Farce (n); a broadly humorous play based on … improbable situations; a ludicrous situation or action. [Collins] And so, just 8 years on, Coillte has exited stage left. Back in December 2009, Coillte’s...

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Tales from the GR36 Walking Route in the South of France

Tales from the GR36 Walking Route in the South of France

Tales from the GR36 Walking Route in the South of France Marie d’Arles “Je suis ravie de rencontrer quelqu’un”. Marie d’Arles smiled out from beneath her poncho. Despite her petite frame, she was no lightweight. Marie was undertaking the full 752 km Via Podiensis, all...

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11 Great West of Ireland Pubs

11 Great West of Ireland Pubs

Great West of Ireland Pubs - A Selection Naturally, my bias ensures that 5 of these 11 great West of Ireland pubs are located in Mayo, but what else would you expect? The Irish pub can be such an alien concept to continental Europeans, especially the southern French I...

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Guided Walking Holiday in the South of France

Guided Walking Holiday in the South of France

Guided Walking Holiday in the South of France Once her official character was demasked, Michèle was a hoot. In her capacity as receptionist and ticket seller at la Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs, she was as detached as any other French heritage site employee. She had no...

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Achill Island Promontory Fort at Dun Bunnafahy

Achill Island Promontory Fort at Dun Bunnafahy

Achill Island Promontory Fort at Bun na Faiche (Dun Bunnafahy) A quick overview of my coastal Discovery Series maps of the County Mayo coastline * reveals 54 marked promontory forts. Doubtless, this is fewer than there are actually are, as I doubt if they've all been...

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Croaghmoyle Booster Station Walk

Croaghmoyle Booster Station Walk

Although not particularly impressive, this Croaghmoyle booster station walk is a pleasant 9km stroll near Castlebar that includes an easy climb on tarmac. I do it a few times each year in spring, just to get some km into the legs before hiking season. The...

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Daly’s Hotel Castlebar Must be Saved

Daly’s Hotel Castlebar Must be Saved

Standing on the beautiful Mall, a treasure any town would desire, is the terribly dilapidated Daly's Hotel Castlebar. The Mall is Castlebar's jewel, a lovely small park that was once the cricket ground of the then landlord of the town, Lord Lucan (Bingham). Boasting...

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Importance of Connecting with Nature

Importance of Connecting with Nature

Are we and our kids spending too much time indoors? I think the answer is clear. While today's electronic devices bring many great advantages of connectivity and learning, they are contributing to a serious diminishing of our connection with the outdoors. There can be...

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Ox Mountains Ramble – Doomore to Crockavreen, a Sligo Slog

Ox Mountains Ramble – Doomore to Crockavreen, a Sligo Slog

Ox Mountains Ramble - Doomore to Crockavreen What a slog that was. Having consulted Bing Maps online and my OSI 1:50,000 Sheet 24, I reckoned this eastern Ox Mountains ramble would take me maybe 5 hours. After all, the successive points to be hiked would be only 272...

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Mweelrea – Hiking Mayo’s Magical Mountain

Mweelrea – Hiking Mayo’s Magical Mountain

Mweelrea Connacht's highest mountain, Mweelrea offers a great day's hiking. The finest mountain in the West of Ireland, Mweelrea can be tackled along a number of routes, my favourite being anti-clockwise from the southern end of Doo Lough over the mountain to Delphi...

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Hiking Inisturk – The Most Beautiful of Mayo Islands

Hiking Inisturk – The Most Beautiful of Mayo Islands

When I think of wonderful little Inisturk, I'm reminded of the sweet opening verse from Nancy Spain, the popular ballad most famously sung by Christy Moore, "Of all the stars that ever shone, Not one does twinkle like your pale blue eyes. Like golden corn at harvest...

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Bellacorick Bog Loop

Bellacorick Bog Loop

Bellacorick Bog Loop - 13kms of flat, easy walking While the first and last 1km is uninspiring, passing along a stony track shared by times with heavy machinery involved in the installation of a new wind farm, the recently designated Bellacorick Bog Loop both...

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Enjoy 90 Seconds of a Windy Lough Adanacleeveen

Enjoy 90 Seconds of a Windy Lough Adanacleeveen

Lough Adanacleeveen is a very lovely corrie lake below Slieve Carr, the highest peak in the Nephin Beg mountains of Mayo. Get your hiking boots on some day and wander up to this very remote part of these mountains. Just pick a rock, sit down, switch off and take it...

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Review : Wild Nephin Map from EastWest Mapping

Review : Wild Nephin Map from EastWest Mapping

2015 saw the publication of its Wild Nephin Map by EastWest Mapping, employing a 1:25,000 scale to give greater detail than the 1:50,000 scale of OSI's Discovery Series. So as a Christmas present to myself, I went out and bought it here in the Castle Book Shop. To be...

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Wildlife Tour Poland 2015 – Trip Report

Wildlife Tour Poland 2015 – Trip Report

What a great week we had on our Wildlife Tour Poland during May. Wow, how time flies and I only writing up my report now! For me, the highlight was unquestionably on the double. First, we had Marsh Harriers passing food while flying above a little rushy marshland....

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Exposing the “Wild Nephin” Charade

Exposing the “Wild Nephin” Charade

Wild Nephin, states Coillte, would "involve taking 4,400 hectares out of ... commercial forest operation and rewilding this land, improving habitat and landscape quality over a 15 year period. The eventual intention ... protecting a landscape of scale with functioning...

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Round Towers of County Mayo

Round Towers of County Mayo

Of the 60-odd Irish round towers remaining, in various states of repair, 5 are to be found in County Mayo. Round towers are believed to have been built around the 8th to 12th Centuries and were most probably bell towers associated with the church that would have stood...

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Farbreiga – A Hill with a Strange Name

Farbreiga – A Hill with a Strange Name

Sixteen km north of Castlebar stands the modest but pleasant hill of Farbreiga. Though only reaching 395m high, a hike up this oddly-named hill offers wonderful views in all directions, especially eastwards over Loughs Conn and Cullin - two of our great western lakes....

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Maumturks & Bens Weekend

Maumturks & Bens Weekend

Join our small group hiking the Maumturk and Twelve Bens mountains of Connemara this May bank holiday weekend. The Inagh Valley in Connemara is a wonderful spot for hiking, with the Maumturk mountains to one side and the Twelve Bens to the other. Beautiful Lough Inagh...

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North Mayo Cliffs with Ravens and Choughs

North Mayo Cliffs with Ravens and Choughs

Walking the spectacular North Mayo cliffs is an exhilarating but tough 2-day hike. From the tiny village of Belderg, heading west, this is an area you will have all to yourself. Apart, that is, from the entertaining Ravens and Choughs. The cliffs around here are just...

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And so to Winter …

And so to Winter …

I must admit that I've no problem with winter. In fact, I'm a fan. I kind of think it suits a place like the West of Ireland. Rather than grumble about the summer showers (of which, by the way, there were precious few during 2014), the rain of wintertime just feels...

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Poland Birdwatching & Wildlife Tour, May 2021

Poland Birdwatching & Wildlife Tour, May 2021

I'm delighted to announce my Poland Birdwatching & Wildlife Tour, for May 2021, to the truly magnificent National Parks of Biebrza and Bialowieza, in eastern Poland. Provisional Dates : May 8 - 15, 2021 (dependent on flight schedules, as yet unannounced)Price :...

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Often, It’s the Simple Pleasures…

Often, It’s the Simple Pleasures…

While we all love to view the spectacular sights and experience the wonderful places, often it's the simple pleasures that we enjoy the most. Like sitting on a rock, in silence, and watching the seals go about their daily routines. Or sharing a forest track with a...

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Autumn in the West

Autumn in the West

I've always loved autumn. As is my wont when I have a bit of spare time, I recently went to a wood I know near Lough Key Forest Park to look for some deer. The last time I had been really lucky, spotting four female Fallow Deer. That was back in summer. They were...

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Aasleagh Falls to Drummin Village

Aasleagh Falls to Drummin Village

Aasleagh Falls is a tiny but celebrated waterfall at the head of the Killary, Ireland's only true fjord, in south County Mayo. The very beautiful Erriff River tumbles down the couple of metres, before babbling over rocks and into the sea just beyond. Come to Aasleagh...

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St Kevins Way in Wicklow

St Kevins Way in Wicklow

St Kevins Way in Wicklow was the target as I left Mayo in the dead of night recently. A supposed pilgrim's path, St Kevins Way travels some 25 km from Hollywood in the east of the county, over the Wicklow Gap and down into Glendalough, the great monastic city of the...

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Corraun Peninsula – Between Island and Mainland

Corraun Peninsula – Between Island and Mainland

Corraun is kept attached to the Irish mainland by rocky boggy land to its east, barely 800 m wide. Off its western shore, meanwhile, a channel just 150 m wide holds Achill Island at bay. The Corraun peninsula, 99% surrounded by water, may as well be an island in its...

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Bangor Erris to Slieve Carr

Bangor Erris to Slieve Carr

Rather than simply moving along The Bangor Trail and then veering left, while out for a hike last week, I decided to leave the village of Bangor Erris, cross over the modest summits of Knocklettercuss and Maumykelly and head for the peak of wonderful Slieve Carr...

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Hedge Life at our Mayo Home

Hedge Life at our Mayo Home

Our hedge gives us great joy, especially during spring and early summer. As much as I’d love to live out in the wilds of Mayo, maybe under a mountain or by a lake, with a wooded area nearby, unfortunately this isn’t the case. At my semi-urban home, the hedge...

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