6 Croagh Patrick from Mulranny
6 Croagh Patrick from Mulranny

Traveling in County Mayo on a Budget

Traveling to County Mayo on a budget was Welsh resident David Simpson's goal during the summer of 2019. David was kind enough to share his marvelous one-week adventure with Ireland on a Budget.

Here's what he got up to.

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My week's trip to County Mayo, Ireland, cost £575 (approximately $727), and while there, I discovered picturesque bays, cozy pubs, friendly faces, fine rivers, local produce, and many more than 50 shades of green.

After arriving at Shannon Airport I picked up my car and headed north to Kiltimagh (a bustling small town).

wind mills traveling in County Mayo on a budget
A view of the Cuillalea Wind Farm in Co. Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.

The following day the weather was gorgeously sunny, and after a lazy morning, I drove towards the Cuillalea Wind Farm.

Parking a mile or so short, I hiked between fuchsia hedges and clusters of blackberries (which were deliciously ripe for eating) to the plateau at the top.

The wind farm that David visited while traveling in County Mayo on a budget is one of approximately 276 on the island of Ireland. According to the Irish Wind Energy Association, wind energy has played a key role in achieving Ireland’s 2020 renewable energy target of 40% renewable electricity.

From there, I wondered about the volcano-shaped mountain on the horizon.

fields traveling in County Mayo on a budget
A view of Croagh Patrick in the distance from the wind farm. Photo: David Simpson.

What David is referring to as he continued his adventure traveling to County to Mayo on a budget is the iconic Croagh Patrick near Westport, Co. Mayo, off in the distance as shown in the photo above. It is also known as Ireland's “Holy Mountain” because St. Patrick, the country's patron saint, fasted for 40 days on its summit.

The next day being absolutely glorious again, I headed off to climb Slievemore Mountain, as this rises from a fine beach indeed (Doogort beach). My drive there via Achill Island was also very scenic in itself.

a beach traveling in County Mayo on a budget
Doogort Beach on Achill Island, Co. Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.

At Doogort beach I was greeted by a breezy blast of sand in the face. However, the warm midday air was idyllic and the color of the sea California-esque. So, I stretched myself out on the sand (which I'd describe as finely blanched by the sunshine).

packet of cheese traveling in County Mayo on a budget
David's treat, Tipperary Blue cheese. Photo: David Simpson.

Laying there relaxing I thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a few swigs of port and mouthfuls of blue cheese.

Doogort Beach is also known as the Golden Strand and is situated on the north side of Achill Island in County Mayo. From there, you can get spectacular views of Blacksod Bay and the Mullet Peninsula.

a beach traveling in County Mayo on a budget
More spectacular views of Doogort Beach on Achill Island in County Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.

Then I packed up and with my rucksack followed the lane to the right, pictured below.

a road traveling in County Mayo on a budget
A quiet road on County Mayo's Achill Island. Photo: David Simpson.

Veering off the lane to the left, I ascended up the western shoulder of Slievemore. See the view that I got below.

the ocean traveling in County Mayo on a budget
The view from Slievemore. Photo: David Simpson.

From atop the whole of Achill Island, well almost, I was surrounded by the deep blueness of the Atlantic Ocean. Such a panoramic vista and a great tonic as well.

A view of the Mullet Peninsula from Slievemore. Photo: David Simpson.

The Mullet Peninsula that David had the pleasure of viewing from the top of Slievemore is well worth visiting, especially if you are traveling to County Mayo on a budget.

It is a remote area of northwest Mayo that is part of the county's Gaeltacht (pronounced “Gaylethuckted”) region, meaning that Irish is the primary language spoken.

There are many affordable activities to do in this region, such as strolling along the area's pristine beaches, playing a round of golf, where green fees range from €50 to €110; water sports; kiting; diving and snorkeling; boating; fishing; and sea angling.

More fabulous views from the top of Slievemore. Photo: David Simpson.

Next, I drove the N59 northwards towards Carrowteige continuing my journey of traveling to County Mayo on a budget.

Outside a cultural event, I found an open-air food stall and purchased a portion of freshly-cooked mussels (which were so fresh, deliciously salty, and succulent). Then I retired to my cozy cottage to spend the night.

Portacloy in Co. Mayo. Photo: Courtesy Anne-Marie Flynn for North Mayo Tourism.

The next day, I drove for a few hours around the northwest coast, explored another peninsula, and spent the afternoon in a pub with some friendly locals.

In the evening, I dined out and later went to a tavern to join the locals for a drink. I returned to my cottage to relax by the warm stove.

The following morning was a little drizzly. However, a nearby hiking trail provided fine views of Port an Chlóidh (known as Portacloy in English).

Although it was less than a kilometer (one mile) each way, there was much to see, including a pristine miniature waterfall and a gushing, rushing, babbling stream.

Read More: Six County Mayo Attractions Receive Awards

A stream that David discovered on his hike. Photo: David Simpson.
More scenes from David's hike on the Mullet Peninsula during his budget trip to Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.
A quiet cove on the peninsula. Photo: David Simpson.

That afternoon I drove to the visitor center at the Céide Fields, which tells the story of the Neolithic field systems that were used here by the region's first farmers in 3,000 BC.

I then continued eastwards to the sea cliffs at Downpatrick Head.
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The Céide Fields region that David visited on his budget travels of County Mayo is the most extensive Neolithic site in Ireland containing the oldest known field systems in the world. The site contains the remains of stone field walls, houses, and megalithic tombs, all preserved underneath a blanket of bog over several square miles.

The amazing Downpatrick Head in Co. Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.

Downpatrick Head is the place where St. Patrick founded a church, the ruins of which you can still see today along with a stone cross and a holy well. On the last Sunday of July each year, people still come to the site to attend an open-air mass.

What is perhaps most striking about Downpatrick Head is the sea stack that is located close to the cliffs.

Known as “Dun Briste” There are several legends associated with the sea stack, but one of them concerns a pagan chieftain who refused to convert to Christianity.

Upon hearing it, St. Patrick in his anger took out his crozier, struck the ground and a piece of the headland came off.

That night I returned to Kiltimagh.

In the morning I drove to Ballina, attracted by the Connacht  Distillery, the River Moy, and the distinct possibility of getting smoked salmon and fresh crab.

The Connacht Distillery in Ballina, Co. Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.

Guided tours of the distillery are available each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They take visitors through the single malt pot-still whiskey distilling process and at the end of the tour are given a tasting. The distillery's signature products include Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey and Brothership Irish-American Whiskey.

Read More: Ballina in Co. Mayo, Home of Joe Biden's Ancestors: Discover Its Many Attractions

a lake traveling in County Mayo on a budget
The River Moy in Ballina. Photo: David Simpson.

Feeling fortified after a good meal, I set off to reach the south side of Lough Corrib (a very scenic drive until night fell).

That night I stayed near the Quiet Man Bridge, which is actually located over the border into Co. Galway, a peaceful hamlet with a handsome stone bridge.


The bridge was featured in the 1950s classic, “The Quiet Man,” which starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Tourists come from all over the world to visit this local attraction. 

Once in my accommodation, I thoroughly enjoyed a superb cuppa from a gargantuan teacup!

The next day it was raining heavily, but, as it was forecast to clear later, I set out to drive slowly to the visitor center at Croagh Patrick.

Once the rain had stopped, I began hiking up Croagh Patrick and had clear views over Westport and Clew Bay dappled in sunlight.

Clew Bay from the top of Croagh Patrick. Photo: David Simpson.

Even so, the actual summit remained in a thick cloud. So, how fortuitous it was that from Cuillalea on Day 1, the mountain had already revealed itself to me, sunbathing deliciously upon the distant horizon.

Clew Bay contains 365 islands, one for each day of the year. It is considered one of the most beautiful bays in Ireland. The biggest of the islands is Clare Island, home to Ireland's legendary pirate queen, Granuaile.

You can take a ferry to the island from Roonagh Pier in Louisburgh. Lots to see and do on this beautiful island, including viewing one of the coolest lighthouses in Ireland.

a white building on top of a mountain traveling in County Mayo on a budget
The summit of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.

Here are some of the other pictures that David took as he traveled throughout County Mayo.

Read More: Clew Bike Trail in County Mayo Now Open to Cyclists

a thatched cottage traveling in County Mayo on a budget
A thatched cottage/antique shop that David came across in his travels across Mayo. Photo: David Simpson.
Croagh Patrick in the distance from Mulranny. Photo: David Simpson.
cows in a field traveling in County Mayo on a budget
Cattle grazing in a field in Co. Mayo, a common sight across Ireland. Photo: David Simpson.

Needless to say, I happily departed having had a great week rich with good times.

How David budgeted for his budget trip to Mayo, Ireland

  • The £575 that he spent includes everything except flights.
  • David used a car hire broker that he highly recommends. It is called Indigo.
  • The car rental company he chose was Easirent. He also recommends them.
  • He chose self-catering accommodation through Airbnb.

David Simpson is from Wales and enjoys skiing, exploring, and simple pleasures.

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

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