North West Ireland Tourism
Visitor Guide to Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan & Monaghan
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 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.

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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

  1. Follow the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail which starts in nearby Murrrisk and incorporates the National Famine Monument.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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’.
  6. Roonah Quay, 6.5 km west, is the starting place for boat trips to Clare Island and Inishturk.

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Top Attractions of Ireland's North West

If it is a leisurely or action packed holiday you require then you can be guaranteed that the counties of the North West of Ireland including Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo can provide for your every need. These counties offer you choices of the best accommodation and eateries along with lively evening hotspots to keep you entertained during your visit. The region has excellent sporting amenities with some of Ireland's best golf links courses, along with excellent fishing spots, horse riding, mountaineering, mountain biking, river and sea cruises, famous surfing beaches and much much more.

Visitors are also sure to experience a warm welcome or "céad mile fáilte" from those you meet on your travels in the area along with a strong sense of the Irish heritage and culture in some of the least explored parts of the country.

Ireland's North West is easily accessible from every corner of the world through the regional airports serving the region at Knock or Shannon and you'll find there is a lot to see and plenty to do once you arrive. Below are just some of the main attractions ready to be discovered. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Croagh Patrick in Mayo

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick, one of the highest peaks in the West of Ireland is situated five miles from the picturesque town of Westport in the village of Murrisk, and the mountain’s conical shape soars majestically above the surrounding countryside. More details +
attractions donegal
Glenveagh National Park Donegal

Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park can be found about 24km north west of Letterkenny in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. With its pristine lakes, mountains, boglands, moorlands, rivers and wilderness, this remote and peaceful national park is hauntingly beautiful and serene. More details +
must see places donegal
Slieve League Cliffs

Slieve League Cliffs

Towering high above the raging Atlantic Ocean, the Slieve League Cliffs are one of the highest sea-cliff faces in Europe. Their incredibly steep slope to the sea is perhaps even more hair-raising than the Cliffs of Moher with its shear drop. More details +
Best Irish attractions
The Céide Fields in Mayo

The Céide Fields

The remarkable neolithic site at Céide Fields in County Mayo holds the oldest known stone-walled fields in the world. They date back almost 6,000 years, more than any other early agricultural site to date. More details +
best places to visit mayo
The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant's Causeway’s unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of north Atlantic Ocean. The rugged symmetry of the columns, and their uniform planshape, never fail to intrigue and inspire the curious admirers who come so far to witness them. More details +
Historic attractions Ireland
Grianán of Aileach

Grianán of Aileach

The great Grianán of Aileach is believed to have been built in the 1st century AD, on the site of an ancient Iron Age hillfort, and the outline of the original Iron Age fort can still be seen on the hill to this day. More details +
top ancient attractions ireland
Doagh Famine Village

Doagh Famine Village

Doagh Famine Village contains a wide selection of full size attractions, including some original dwellings which were still inhabited up to 20 years ago. Some of the buildings of Doagh Famine Village, such as the Orange Hall, Presbyterian Meeting House, Mass Rock and Hedge School and a Republican Safe House, depict the diverse history and culture of this corner of the Inishowen peninsula. More details +

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