There is almost nothing in Portacloy, and yet it is one of the most beautiful spots on the north Mayo coast. Totally isolated from its hinterland by large swathes of blanket bog, Portacloy looks today much as it would have looked two hundred years ago. A cluster of traditional cottages look down over it from the lofty heights of its northern headland. Their simple architecture is entirely unadulterated by any veneer of modernity. Portacloy is, at best, a hamlet, and, at that, a hamlet without a pub or shop. But it does have a stunning backdrop of heavily rutted headlands, scarred by the cutting action of ancient streams which mark the terrain in deep, equally spaced, lines. And it has sheep too, and lots of them, and they sit on the grass verges, or watch from atop the turf creels. They enjoy clustering in two’s or three’s on the roadway, too, to confound the occasional passing car.
And, like the town itself, Portacloy’s old harbour, too, is a basic affair, but it is this simplicity which give it its charm. And indeed it has charm in abundance. We wonder what life is like in these waters during the winter season when the line between sea and sky is obscured and the horizon lifts and drops with the incoming swells. But this evening Porturlin Harbour is quite beautiful, and we look down from the headland on a sailboat which has pulled in for the night. Tiny figures move about on its desk, setting a table, and dispatching a shore party on an inflatable dinghy. Cool!
How to get to Portacloy
By car, bicycle or foot. There are no scheduled bus services to Portacloy. From Ballina, follow the R314 west. From Glenamoy follow local roads and signage to Portacloy.
Where to stay near Portacloy
Portacloy has lots of good places to stay nearby including hotels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.
Book Portacloy Accommodation
Portacloy is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Porturlin and The Ceide Fields
if you are travelling north, and Belmullet, and Achill Island, if travelling south.
Things to do in Portacloy
- Stop on the roadway across the blanket bog and check out one of the areas where turf has been recently cut. Notice that different areas have different ways of drying, and indeed storing, turf.
- The walking trails to both east and west of Portacloy are stunning, but great care should be taken when in close proximity to the sea. Choose your day well, prepare carefully, and walk safely.
- Try your hand fishing from the old harbour. Again expect to catch turbot, pollack, and mackerel.
- Bring your togs! Portacloy’s beach is short but it is wonderfully protected and is perfectly suited to bathing.