The charming town of Louisburgh is located on the south shore of beautiful Clew Bay, just a long stone’s throw away from the base of Croagh Patrick. It stands on the banks of the Bunowen River, which passes through it in a flurry of rapids and overhanging trees. Louisburgh (Cluain Cearban), which in Irish means 'meadow of the buttercups' was renamed after an uncle of the Marquis of Sligo who, in 1758 helped capture the French fortress of Lousiburgh in Nova Scotia. It is a pleasant town at the mouth of the Bunowen River, 22 km south of Westport. It was founded by the Browne family of Westport House. Louisburgh is what we call in Ireland “a planned town”, that is, it was laid out by its landlord or benefactor with some sense of geometry or logic, as opposed to ….well none! And even today you can see the simple logic with which Lord Altamont laid out his new village two hundred years ago. You can almost imagine him in his fine smoking room, with his genteel friends after dinner, replicating the octagonal shapes and intersecting street lines which had worked so well in nearby Westport.
Louisburgh is the focal point of a region of great natural beauty, a gateway to the romantic solitudes of Glencullin and Doolough, and an area with fine blue-flagged sandy beaches. Just east of Louisburgh lies Old Head Beach. Flanked by a natural wood on its western edge, Old Head is one of Mayo’s busiest beaches when the sun is shining. At the height of summer the laughter of children blends with the chime of approaching ice-cream vans, and carries for miles from the beach and its adjacent campsite. At low tide the myriad of rock-pools on the shore teem with marine life. They fill with every tide to form the most spontaneous and natural of aquaria, and they fascinate adults and kids alike for hours on end.
On the rugged coast beyond Louisburgh, where the abandoned potato furrows of pre-famine Ireland scar the rock-strewn landscape, you happen of the vast sandy expanse of White Strand and Silver Strand. At first glance these enormous beaches seem to stretch across the waves to Clare Island and Inisturk, far out in Clew Bay. But, no, these great guardians od Clew Bay are remote and isolated, and all at sea. And their isolation is their salvation, and they remain tiny microcosms of 1950′s Irish culture, with just a little bit of contemporary comfort and culture thrown in.
Further back from all of this rural splendour, in the direction of Louisburgh, are the surfing beaches of Cross and Carrowniskey. Although no Blue Flag flies at beautiful Carrowniskey, the beach enjoys daily lifeguard patrols during summer months, owing to its popularity with surfers and water sports enthusiasts.
The area around Lousiburgh has an interesting archaeological heritage with court-tombs at Aillemore and Formoyle,a wedge-tomb at Srahwee, friaries at Kilgeever and Murrisk, a clapper footbridge (a stone bridge with 37 arches) at Killeen, and many other monuments, especially around Killadoon. There is a beautiful forest walk at Old Head. The Granuaile Centre is now a major attraction in the town.
How to get to Louisburgh
By bus, or car. Bus Eireann Route 450 provides a regular service from Westport to Louisburgh. Alternatively follow the R335 west from Westport to Louisburgh.
Where to stay in Louisburgh
Louisburgh has great selection of places to stay including hotels, hostels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.
Book Louisburgh Accommodation
Louisburgh Old Head is surrounded by beautiful coastal destinations. Don't miss Croagh Patrick and Westport if you are travelling north, and don't miss Clare Island
, and Inishturk
, if you are travelling south.
Things to do in Louisburgh
- Follow the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail which starts in nearby Murrrisk and incorporates the National Famine Monument.
- Sample the waters of the Atlantic at beautiful Tallabawn (Silver Strand) and Dooaghtry beaches, and feel the remarkable benefits of stunningly clear salty Atlantic water on your skin.
- Louisburgh holds numerous traditional festivals throughout the summer season. Feile Chois Cuain takes place in Louisburgh on the May Bank holiday week. This festival is a celebration of traditional Irish music, song and dance.
- Louisburgh’s “The September Sessions” takes place on the second weekend of September. An Bhun Abhainn pub in Louisburgh will be overflowing with tunes, songs and conversation. Guests have included; Emer Mayock, John Kilkenny, Philip Duffy and many more.
- Visit the annual Louisburgh Horse Show which takes place in June and was awarded the show of the year for 2010 by the show correspondent from the ‘Farmers Journal’.
- Roonah Quay, 6.5 km west, is the starting place for boat trips to Clare Island and Inishturk.