Barry’s Blog

Fáilte Ireland Video for the Wild Atlantic Way

Fáilte Ireland Video for the Wild Atlantic Way

View the Fáilte Ireland video promoting the newly designated Wild Atlantic Way - a 2,500 km touring route down the west coast of Ireland. You can also read my blogpost about the Wild Atlantic Way. To discover some of this amazing coastline on foot, in Mayo and...

read more
Towerhill – A Ruined Mayo Mansion

Towerhill – A Ruined Mayo Mansion

Built by Isidore Blake at the end of the 18th Century, Towerhill was a very fine “Big House” near Carnacon in south Mayo. Standing 6 bays wide and 3 bays deep over basement, the house was reputedly built on the site of an old burial ground and church dedicated to St....

read more
Wild Nephin – Wilderness or Wasteland ?

Wild Nephin – Wilderness or Wasteland ?

Wild Nephin is the title given to Coillte’s project to 'rewild' a large area of blanket bog and plantation forest to the east of the Nephin Beg Mountains of northwest Mayo. The State-owned forestry company aims to 'create' Ireland’s first wilderness over the next 10 –...

read more
Corrannabinnia

Corrannabinnia

I like Corrannabinnia very much. Let’s make that clear from the start. At 714 m and the second highest point of the Nephin Beg range, Corrannabinnia is surely one of the highest peaks in Ireland not to be named in OSI Discovery series maps. Strangely, lower points on...

read more
Mám Éan

Mám Éan

A strange little place in the middle of nowhere, Mám Éan can be reached from three different directions. I chose to ascend from Maam (not to be confused with Maam Cross). To be honest, the word ‘ascend’ is inappropriate here, as the destination stands at a mere 260 m...

read more

Wild Atlantic Way

“What do you think of it yourself?”, says I. Sitting enjoying a pint of the black stuff in McDonnell’s pub in Béal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet, Co. Mayo), we were chatting about the sheer scale of the Wild Atlantic Way. “Tis a fierce drive alright”, says Pat, bending...

read more

Belderg by Séamus Heaney

Belderg (aka Belderrig) is a tiny village on the bogs of the north Mayo coast, some 42 km NW of Ballina and 34 km NE of Béal an Mhuirthead. From the Irish Béal Dearg, the red mouth, Belderg is known for the wonderful archaeological work done in uncovering prehistoric...

read more

Heritage Week 2013

Heritage Week 2013 runs from August 17th to 25th. I'd like to draw your attention to just two events that are happening here in Mayo. Old Irish Goat Society (OIGS) On Friday evening the 23rd, there will be a talk in Mulranny Park Hotel on the origin of Ireland's...

read more

Connacht

Ireland's western province, Connacht, holds an especially intriguing place in the national self-perception. Far from the seat of power and the more densely populated Leinster, Connacht is a little-understood part of our country. As far back as the first millenium,...

read more

Sheeffry Hills – A South Mayo Hillwalking Treat

The Sheeffry Hills may not come to mind when planning a day's hillwalking in the West of Ireland. Yet they should certainly be considered. With their high point of 772 m at Barrclashcame towards the western end of the plateau, the Sheeffrys offer a very pleasant day's...

read more

Spring Gentian – Wildflower of Limestone Landscapes

As we left the stump of the once impressive round tower behind and began our gentle climb towards Teampall Bheanáin above, we came upon several little groups of the gorgeous Spring Gentian. A flower of the Burren, its Aran Island outposts and a few sites in north...

read more

Wildflowers Delayed due to Cold

Out for a woodland walk at the weekend, I noticed how delayed the arrival of seasonal wildflowers has been. The very cold spring (even last night, temperatures around the country were barely 1 to 4C) has resulted in few wildflowers in bloom to enjoy. Here are some...

read more

Loop Walks – A Vision for the Mullet Peninsula

The very remote Mullet Peninsula in northwest Mayo already boasts a few short loop walks. Measuring around 25 km from north (at the Erris Head loop walk) to south (Blacksod) and a maximum of 14 km from west (Annagh Head) to east (Ballyglass), the Mullet is...

read more

Cong Lakes Walking Weekend 2013

Join our group for this fantastic guided walking weekend in May. Taking place over the May bank holiday weekend, from May 3 through 6, Cong Lakes Walking Weekend is one of the top walking weekends the West of Ireland has to offer. Walking is graded easy on two of the...

read more

Clare Island

The old lighthouse at its northern tip was our target during a day trip over to Clare Island in late summer. A beautiful day welcomed us to the pier at Roonagh, itself a lovely spot. Had we been a little earlier arriving, with some time to spare, we could have walked...

read more

Twelve Bens – Walking the Gleninagh Circuit

What I like about the Twelve Bens is that lots of them boast proper conical or pointed peaks.  Moreover, most of them are rocky on top. Coming from Mayo and our almost universally turf-topped mountains, they make for a nice change. This earlier post names which Mayo...

read more

Inishbofin

I had wanted to visit Inishbofin during winter and so, last week, took the ferry out from Cleggan. As it was February, there were only 9 of us on board. As the days are still short, I wasted no time. I threw my bag into The Beach B&B and headed straight for the...

read more

Achill Island Walking Weekend 2014

Join us for our Achill Island Walking Weekend, from October 3rd to 5th, 2014. Our small group will be based at Keel village, from where we can discover the best of the island on foot, with no need for long transfers from our B&B. Our walking weekend will take us...

read more

Hiking Boots – What You Need on Walking Tours in Ireland

Hiking boots – you cannot overestimate the importance of a good pair for West of Ireland conditions. By the end of 2011 it was time to change mine. The old pair had served me well, been through a lot and was beginning to come apart. So off I went during the winter...

read more

Walking Tours Ireland 2012 – A Photographic Review

I was sitting here reviewing some photos from 2012 walking tours, when I thought, well, why not share them in a blog post. So here we go. I've selected five photos that might inform the would-be visitor to this wonderful part of the world what a walking tour in Mayo...

read more

Knockma Wood, Galway

Looking for a place to go walking with the kids at the start of this new year, we crossed the border into Galway. Knockma Wood is small, but very nice indeed, comprised mainly of Oak, Ash, Hazel and other broadleaf trees. The wood occupies a low hill in the...

read more

Mayo Mountains – How Many are There ?

While Ireland's mountains are modest on a European scale, Mayo mountains are modest even in the national context. They are, nonetheless, wonderful for one characteristic at least - the fabulous ocean or lake views they afford the hiker. I once stood in the then Bord...

read more

Glinsk – Walking the North Mayo Coastline

Glinsk on the North Mayo Coastline Walking the little hill of Glinsk in North Mayo is fabulous. This is, after all, one of the least populated parts of Ireland. Sure, there are settlements, like the large town of Ballina and several smaller towns and villages, such as...

read more

Lough Avoher – What’s in a Name ?

To the south of Nephin Beg mountain and just east of The Bangor Trail (though barely visible from it and missed by many walkers, I would guess) lies the small Lough Avoher. You might think I should have added “and irrelevant” to my description. This is not a Lough...

read more
Camaraderie on Walking Tours

Camaraderie on Walking Tours

My walking tours in Mayo are about enjoying the beautiful coastal, lakeshore or woodland landscapes our county has to offer. And they're about the people we meet and share our time with - we all love great camaraderie on walking tours. Sitting in a quiet rural pub by...

read more

Shared Rooms Only, is it Possible ?

I've been wondering about this for quite a while now. Could I offer a walking holiday with shared rooms only ? We've all heard about 'production orientation' versus 'customer orientation', right ? The former is where a business puts production values before customer...

read more

I Love Bog Pools on Walking Holidays

Bog pools, large and small, dot the peat covered terrain of Mayo, from down in the valleys to the very top of our 700m+ mountains. I love them. They are a regular feature of our walking holidays and are especially evocative when you can see the sea from standing by...

read more

Hillwalking on Achill Island

Achill Island, off Mayo's west coast, offers excellent hillwalking, with fantastic ocean views all around. First, however, let's get the bad stuff out of the way, so we can concentrate on what is magnificent about Achill. The island has suffered badly from the 'Celtic...

read more

Ten Great Short Mayo Walks, Part Two

I want to share with you 10 beautiful, but short, Mayo walks. These are places to go for a short, easy stroll and admire the surroundings. Bring the kids. I've chosen 10 places that you can easily reach in your car or, preferably, on your bike. No need for hiking...

read more

Ten Great Short Mayo Walks, Part One

I want to share with you 10 beautiful, but short, Mayo walks. These are places to go for a short, easy stroll and admire the surroundings. Bring the kids. I've chosen 10 places that you can easily reach in your car or, preferably, on your bike. No need for hiking...

read more

Moore Hall and the Moores of Mayo

Down by the shores of Lough Carra, a marl lake in the south of Mayo, lies Moore Hall. Once the mansion of the local landlord, this fine three-storey over basement ruin is now home to one of Ireland's most north-westerly populations of Lesser Horseshoe Bat. Built in...

read more

Wildflowers on Walking Holidays

I took the following photos over a 500 m stretch of West of Ireland coastal countryside last weekend, while out on a walk. I love finding wildflowers in their natural habitat, whether that be the expansive blanket bogs, small remnants of old oak woodland, along cliff...

read more

Le Connemara adoré par les Français

Les Français aiment le Connemara. "Terre brulée au vent des landes de pierre" Depuis plusieures années déjà je propose aux groupes français des randos guidées dans ce coin mythique de l'ouest d'Irlande. Le Connemara est très souvent la région de notre pays à laquelle...

read more

Connemara

I have been guiding French groups around Connemara and into the Connemara National Park for a few years now. More than anywhere else, this is the part of Ireland the French come to see. Connemara is known to them through the medium of film, but mostly thanks to one...

read more

Discussing Walking Holidays with the Heritage Council

I was delighted to be invited to speak about my guided walking holidays at the Heritage Council's event at Lough Lannagh, Mayo this morning, entitled "Heritage as an Engine for Economic Growth". I kept it simple, demonstrating how even a small operator like myself...

read more

August Walking Weekend 2012

A favourite walking weekend of my own is my Western Ocean Walking Weekend that takes place up around Belmullet and the Mullet peninsula over the August bank holiday weekend. Northwest Mayo boasts fantastic cliff-top trails, low lying hills and offshore islands. There...

read more

White Tailed Eagle Weekend

On Friday last, I tweeted the following : "Not 1 but 2 WT Eagles above me in Killarney NP ! I will die happy." I was out walking around the lakes in Kerry, under the cover of mostly oak trees. When I emerged from beneath early summer's developing canopy, I looked up...

read more

Ringfort in Mayo – Lios na Gaoithe

Hidden in the middle of one of Mayo's countless conifer plantations lies one of the true jewels of the county. Lios na Gaoithe (The Fort of the Wind) is a large ringfort constructed sometime from the late Iron Age to the early medieval period. Scholars now tend to...

read more
Clifftop Walk at Carrowtigue (An Ceathrú Thaidhg)

Clifftop Walk at Carrowtigue (An Ceathrú Thaidhg)

The magnificent clifftop walk at Carrowtigue is located in the wild northwest tip of Mayo and offers a stunning 4 to 5 hour loop up to Benwee Head and back. This trail is an excellent example of what Mayo has to offer the walker, with spectacular views of the county's...

read more

Walking Holidays in Ireland

There are many great reasons for taking walking holidays in Ireland. Of course, we have the beautiful landscapes, particularly here in the west. We have the nice and relaxed pace of life along our west coast. We have the great craic in our rural pubs. But, of course,...

read more

Mountain Scenery

A short post to share some pictures I've recently taken out hillwalking here in Mayo. The weather has been incredible these past few weeks, with very little rain and nice bright, crisp blue-sky days in the hills. Great...

read more

Thank you very much, Walshes

We had absolutely beautiful weather as we completed The Bangor Trail on Friday last. Even though we were in the dying days of winter, I had never experienced the trail in such a dry condition, not even in summer. I guess that's not really surprising, as we've had very...

read more

Wandern – Sonderangebote für deutsche Besucher

Bitte auf der vom 22. bis 26. Februar in Münchener Messegelände 'f.re.e München' Messe am Irland-Stand vorbeikommen. Ich bin die ganzen fünf Tage dabei ! Die folgenden Sonderangebote gelten auch bei der Messe und sind jederzeit buchbar. Herzliche Willkommen in Mayo...

read more

First Hillwalking of New Year

I got out hillwalking at the weekend for the first time since the holidays. Not 100% successful, I must admit! On Saturday, I met up with a mate and we decided to take on the northern end of the Maumturks. Standing watch over Leenane, the Maumturks are nice mountains...

read more

World Wetlands Day 2012

Thursday, February 2nd is World Wetlands Day. Check out its origins here. World Wetlands Day is about appreciating the vital role wetlands play in our ecosystems and protecting them. Here in Mayo, we are blessed with many wetland areas, from our blanket bogs, dotted...

read more

Welcome to 2012

December saw me take on three good hikes in the off-season. I had a specific reason for revisiting The Bangor Trail from the Bangor end on Dec 21st, the shortest day of the year. While on 'The Walk of Hope' with the fabulous people of Foxford Ramblers Walking Club the...

read more

Hunting Lodge at Sheskin

Mayo, like most of Ireland, still has a number of 19th Century hunting and fishing lodges, built by the then landlord classes for themselves and their guests to enjoy a bit of plunder. Among them is the once fine, if modest, hunting lodge at Sheskin. Elsewhere,...

read more

The Western Way in Winter

I love winter. OK, I prefer a dry, crisp, fresh winter to a sodden, rainy, mucky winter. But since we have far more of the latter than the former, I make do with it. Today, I went on a 7-hour cycle and hike along The Western Way, through Ireland's largest tract of...

read more