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.

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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.

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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