North West Ireland Tourism
Visitor Guide to Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan & Monaghan
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Killala is a charming and picturesque seaside village which played an important part in the Rebellion of 1798. In August of that year General Humbert arrived into Kilcummin pier from France, and combined with the Irish insurgents against the crown forces. And so began what was to become known in Irish history as ”Year of the French”. And while its involvement with the forces of France did not end well for Killala, the town has become a very popular with historians and history enthusiasts in more recent years. Indeed Killala, as the original site of Humbert’s fateful landing, was used as the main location for the making of the film “The Year of the French”.

The town of Killala is dominated by its wonderful round tower which dates all the way from the 12th century. Despite 800 years of Atlantic wind and political turmoil, Killala’s Round Tower is still in superb condition, a great testament to the skills and craftsmanship of the tenacious monks who built it so long ago. The tower marks Killala’s historic distinction as an important centre of ecclesiastical politics, although it was not built for that purpose. The Killala round tower was most likely used as a belfry and refuge, and is one of the finest examples of its type in the country. In the centre of the town is a Church of Ireland cathedral. It was built in 1670 immediately above the remains of an earlier Catholic cathedral. The adjoining graveyard has a 9th century “Souterrain”, an underground burial structure associated with the Atlantic Iron Age settlers.

The origins of Killala diocese date back to the time of St Patrick. In the year 442 AD he charged his disciple, St Muredach, to build a community in Killala. And it is this simple appointment that caused the area around Killala to become saturated with very fine archaeological remains such as Rosserk Abbey, Moyne Abbey, Rathfran Abbey, Meelick Castle, and Humberts Rock.

These days Killala is a popular tourist destination. Its nearest beach, Ross Beach, is a wonderfully unspoiled Blue Flag beach, which is excellent for swimming, surfing, and sailing. A strong tradition of fishing prevails in the area and Killala Harbour is a focal point for visiting fishermen and locals alike. And if bird-watching or seal-spotting is your thing, a fine array of waterside birds can be spotted, including cormorants, gulls, brent geese, ducks and more. Seals can often be seen in Killala Bay or on nearby Bartra Island.

How to get to Killala

By bus, or car. Bus Eireann Route 445 serves Killala from Ballina. Alternatively follow the R314 west from Ballina.

Where to stay in Killala

Killala has great selection of quality accommodation options including hotels, hostels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.

Book Killala Accommodation

Explore more

Killala is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Ballina and Enniscrone if you are travelling north, and Balderg Harbour, and Porturlin, if you are travelling south.

Things to do in Killala

  1. The shoreline at Killala is dotted with safe beaches. Ross Beach in particular has facilities for swimming and water sports – and all beaches have magnificent scenery which make walking a great delight.
  2. There is a strong tradition of fishing and sea-angling from Killala, and the harbour in particular provides several options to visiting anglers. If you are interested in fishing, will find many locations, on river, shore, and offshore. Killala Bay offers excellent fishing for over 30 different species, and smoking and freezing preservation facilities are available.
  3. Bird watchers will find find a great variety of seabirds – including, Brent geese, waders, cormorants, gulls. In late spring, too, rare corncrakes can be heard calling on warm nights! Seals can also be spotted in Killala Bay, and basking on nearby Bartra Island.
  4. Lacken Strand plays host to the annual Lacken Strand races each May. The races are run on the beach with all races taking place along a six-furlong oval track.

Killala Map

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