North West Ireland Tourism
Visitor Guide to Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan & Monaghan
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The rugged fishing village of Porturlin is nestled in its deep inlet right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It reminds us of those testosterone-filled Alaskan fishing ports you see on TV, with their tenacious work boats and their fearless crews. And we know, of course, that life in Porturlin is not nearly as melodramatic as all that but, on this exposed Atlantic coast, it must have its days. Porturlin is a rugged, man’s town, and the talk is of boats, and the sea, and the diminishing likelihood of a good summer. Stunning and beautiful both!

Porturlin, as per its name, is all about the sea and the harbour, and there is very little in the way of an actual village. What we love about it however is its inner harbour, which dries out with the tide to leave heavy trawlers stranded at alarming angles in the sand. With the tide out you can stroll among them, composing photographic compositions, and capturing the precarious roughness of the whole operation.

During the tragic years of the Great Famine, Richard Webb toured this part of Ireland, and reported back to the Society of Friends (The Quakers). After visiting Porturlin he wrote, “the only access by land is over a high and boggy mountain so wet and swampy that it is difficult to reach it even in summer. There is probably not in all Ireland a cluster of human habitations so completely secluded from easy access”. Noting the nature of the coast and the shortage of safe harbours he wrote, “For about 10 miles the only ports are the coves of Porturlin and Portacloy, and even those are not easily gained when a heavy swell sets in”. Between 1846 and 1910 piers, roads, and bridges were constructed piecemeal in the area, an yet the communities are still isolated between the sea and the broad tracts of bog land behind.

How to get to Porturlin

By car, bicycle or foot. There are no scheduled bus services to Porturlin. From Ballina, follow the R314 west. From Glenamoy follow local roads and signage to Porturlin.

Where to stay near Porturlin

Porturlin has lots of great accommodation options nearby including hotels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.

Book Porturlin Accommodation

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Porturlin is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss the Ceide Fields and Killala if you are travelling north, and Portacloy, and Belmullet, if you are travelling south.

Things to do in Porturlin

  1. Follow the wonderful coastal trail walks both east and west of Porturlin. The coastal trail to the east links right back to Balderg, a full half days walk away. As you walk, do be aware of the dangers posed by cliffs and high winds. Choose your day carefully, prepare well, and walk safely.
  2. If you are interested in photography, time your visit to catch the tide either fully in or fully out. We loved walking in and out between the stranded boats, but do be careful as you work.
  3. Try your hand fishing from the pier at beautiful Porturlin. Expect turbot, pollack, and mackerel.
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