When I had my fantastic couple of days in Belmullet, Co. Mayo, I went out with Agatha, who runs Wild Atlantic Tours. Meeting the people along the way has been a huge part of my Wild Atlantic Wayfarer journey and one I didn’t really think about when I embarked on it. They have all been so friendly and welcoming and have shared their part of Ireland with me. I have memories that will last a lifetime.
One of those memories is my day with Agatha. She picked me up from the beautiful Broadhaven Bay Hotel, which was my home for two nights and we went on an adventure – and what an adventure it was! Our first stop was Blacksod Bay Lighthouse, which I’ve done a separate blog post about and you can read here.
After that it was off for a cuppa, well this is Ireland, so you just have to. I got to meet the wonderful Hannah, who runs Léim Siar Bed and Breakfast which is one of the most eco-friendly guest houses in Ireland. Hannah is such a warm, welcoming lady, we enjoyed fresh scones straight out of the oven. I was shown the greenhouse where lots of herbs, fruit and veg are grown. Got to cuddle Solas the puppy and talk to the hens. Léim Siar Bed and Breakfast is in a stunning location, situated at the very end of the Mullet Peninsula, Blacksod Bay, Belmullet, Co Mayo….and it’s close to the local pub! What more could you want?
After we said farewell to Hannah,we had a drive around to look at some of the sights. First was the stone circle at Fallmore which is part of the North Mayo Sculpture Trail. I had seen this when I had my whirlwind tour of Erris with Laurence from Belmullet Coastguard Station. So I’m posting two pics of this, one at night from my glamping visit and one from my tour with Agatha.
We paid a visit to St. Deirbhile’s Church and Holy Well. A really stunning place overlooking to Wild Atlantic Way. Agatha was telling me the story about the well (this is in my words and I have the memory of a goldfish, so don’t take my word for it): Deirbhile used to have a man who was very much in love with her, but she didn’t feel the same way. She didn’t want him hanging around so she asked him what part of her he loved. He said her eyes – so she took them out and threw them away and the well appeared! The water from the holy well is alleged to have curative properties for eye complaints. There is also an old church and graveyard which are dedicated to the saint, whose remains are interred here according to tradition. It’s said that if you pass three times through the narrow window of the church you’ll never drown – I wasn’t even going to attempt this as I’m sure I would have got stuck.
Ionad Deirbhile was a short drive away. This centre gives the visitor a valuable insight into the lifestyle of this area in times past. (Erris, Belmullet / Béal an Mhuirthead, Eachléim, Blacksod / Fód Dubh). There is also a coffee shop and the day we went there a turf fire welcomed us. The centre houses a wealth of information relating to local folklore, archaeology, local history and an account of a former way of life for instance currach fishing, construction of old houses native to this area etc. This information is presented in both Irish and English.
Our next stop was Catherine and Pap who run Turas Siar which is an Irish Language and Culture centre. They provide a local history service and education based around the Irish Language. The centre contains items of historical interest related to the Erris area and the life of the Erris people in the past. Catherine was telling me that they host various gatherings and have people coming from all over the world to take part. They are also in the process of setting up The Erris Genealogy Group.
Next was my radio debut in Mayo on Erris FM! This was very exciting for me. Agatha is a regular presenter on the radio station and she asked me if I’d come along with her to chat on air. The programmes are usually all in Irish and as I only know a couple of sentences and one of those is a bit rude Agatha spoke to me in English..phew! The radio station is located in Aras Inis Gluaire, which is a great bilingual arts centre in Belmullet. I really enjoyed looking at the art exhibition there.
Doonamoe was next on my tour of Erris. Another stunning place, and another of the North Mayo sculpture Trail. This one is called ‘Thin Places‘ – Two Shrines dedicated to the those Lost at Sea, it’s designed by American architect and philosopher Travis Price, and is built around a blowhole.
Cross was another beautiful place, well to be honest it was all beautiful! We saw an old church and graveyard, now occupied by sheep – who were quite curious!
Cross Lake was a hive of activity with kite surfers – I’d love to try this! Just next to the lake is Cross Beach, we walked along the golden sands, with Agatha’s dog Samba, it was just like being in paradise.
Our last visit of the day was Carne Golf Course. We were going to have a wander around the course but one of the staff members told us to take the golf buggy. It was hilarious! It took us a while just to figure out how to start it! When we did we went flying around the place, sorry golfers! We both took a turn in driving, I almost tipped it over on my turn, whoops! After all that exploring we’d worked up an appetite so we had our dinner at the golf course, it was so nice and great to look over the golf course and the Atlantic while we were eating.
So that was my amazing day with Agatha on a Wild Atlantic Tour. I got to see so many places and found out so much about Erris. Sincere thanks to Agatha for a fantastic day.
You can read more about my Wild Atlantic Wayfarer journey on LookWest.