History & Heritage

Step back in time and explore our region's rich historical sites.

Westport House

One of County Mayo’s best loved attractions and known as one of Ireland’s most beautiful homes, visit Westport House for a day full of adventure, history, and unbeatable Irish beauty.

Considered a national treasure and one of the few privately owned historic houses remaining in Ireland, tour Westport House and experience a 300-year-old historic house set within 400 acres of unspoilt beauty.

With so many things to learn at Westport House, a guided tour is the perfect way to experience its fascinating history, hidden secrets and remarkable stories.

Built in the 18th century on ancestral castle foundations belonging to Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, enjoy a world of legendary tales. From lords and ladies to pirates and slave emancipators, as well as beautiful art and a 3,000-year-old Greek sarcophagi - immerse yourself within the extraordinary history of the house.

Don’t forget to take in the incredible views of the lake, gardens, Clew Bay, Clare Island, and the majestic Croagh Patrick in the distance as you wander the house. Explore the enchanting world of Westport Estate with a walk along the gardens and restored pathways, immersing yourself completely within the wild natural beauty and majestic grandeur of Westport House.

Planning a group tour? Discover our group tour packages, offering private tours as well as options for Afternoon Tea, Birds of Prey Display, or Horse & Hound Welcome experiences.

Plan your trip at www.westporthouse.ie.

Strokestown Park House, National Famine Museum

National Famine Museum and Strokestown Park

A Journey Through Ireland's Dark Times

National Famine Museum:
In the picturesque surroundings of the Strokestown estate, the National Famine Museum stands as a beacon of remembrance, encapsulating Ireland's most harrowing era. This immersive museum narrates tales of landlords, tenants, and cottiers, painting a poignant picture of Ireland's 19th-century socio-economic landscape. A blend of interactive displays and poignant exhibitions ensures that the gravity of the famine resonates deeply with visitors. The restoration and reinvigoration of this significant museum was made possible through generous funding by Fáilte Ireland and Westward Holdings Ltd, with the vigilant stewardship of the Irish Heritage Trust.

Strokestown’s Georgian Palladian House:
Delve deep into Ireland's opulent past with a tour of the exquisite Strokestown Park House. This Georgian Palladian mansion is a treasure trove, offering glimpses into the contrasting lives of the elite and the ordinary. The house stands as a testament to the legacy left behind by the Anglo-Irish gentry. Visitors can experience the warmth of the galleried kitchen, the echoes of innocent laughter in the nursery, and the discipline of the school room. However, the beauty doesn’t end indoors - the sprawling gardens and woodlands beckon, offering tranquility amidst nature's splendor.

History Interwoven:
Strokestown Park House encapsulates the essence of the declining Ascendancy. In stark contrast to this grandeur, The National Famine Museum showcases a somber chapter of Ireland's past. One of the most intriguing stories revolves around the original documents discovered during the 1980s restoration - spotlighting Major Denis Mahon's assassination during The Great Irish Famine. While the house tour provides an intimate perspective of The Big House's dynamics, the National Famine Museum elucidates the stark disparities prevalent during a tragic epoch in Irish history.

Completing the historic tapestry is the meticulously preserved Walled Pleasure Gardens, transporting visitors to the idyllic times of a Georgian estate. The comprehensive experience has flourished under the Irish Heritage Trust since 2015, ensuring that history, both delightful and somber, is preserved for generations to come.

North Mayo Heritage Centre, Crossmolina

North Mayo Heritage Centre: A Celebration of Regional Legacy

Located on the historic grounds of Enniscoe House, the North Mayo Heritage Centre is a testament to the rich history and traditions of the region. Proudly awarded the An Taisce Green Flag since 2019 and recognized as an Historical site in 2021, the Centre has become a symbol of conservation and cultural importance in the area.

The Centre offers a vast genealogical resource for those looking to trace their North Mayo roots. With the dedicated Family History Unit, it provides extensive research for parishes in the northern region of Co. Mayo. With access to over 1.2 million records, individuals from around the world can reconnect with their ancestral lineage right here.

For those keen on sustainable practices, the Centre's certified Organic garden, one of the oldest in Ireland, is a treat. Visitors have the opportunity to purchase fresh produce directly from the garden, a testament to the Centre's commitment to sustainability and health.

Beyond its historical and agricultural offerings, the Centre is a hub of vibrant cultural activities. Throughout the year, a diverse Cultural Programme is rolled out, offering a range of events, workshops, and exhibitions for visitors of all ages. Additionally, the Centre's looped walks, open year-round, allow visitors to immerse themselves in nature's beauty.

A unique feature of the Centre is its self-contained conference/event facility, available for various gatherings, meetings, and events, making it a versatile venue for both leisure and business activities.

Operating as a not-for-profit organization, the North Mayo Heritage Centre is integral to its community, providing local employment and boosting the regional economy. Every visitor, every service availed, and every product purchased directly contributes to the local community, reinforcing the Centre's commitment to its roots.

Join us at the North Mayo Heritage Centre, where history, nature, and culture intertwine, offering a unique experience for every visitor.

Visit website

Moore Hall

Strolling along the forest roads of Moore Hall, you'll find yourself on a delightful journey called the Moore Hall Walk. As you wander, the remnants of the Moore Hall House stand as a testament to its rich history. This iconic house was the brainchild of George Moore, who laid its foundation in 1792 and saw its completion by 1796. George's story is as fascinating as the house itself. He ventured to Alicante, Spain, and made a name for himself as a wine merchant and builder. His success even led him to own a fleet of ships. Sadly, George passed away in 1799 and rests near Straide Co Mayo. The house, carrying memories of the Moore family, faced a tragic event in 1922 when it was consumed by fire.

The Moore family's legacy began with the establishment of Moore Hall in 1792. From its completion in 1795, the house became a centerpiece of Ireland's social, historical, cultural, and political tapestry. It remained a bustling hub, occupied by the Moore lineage until 1910.

As you continue your journey, the Moore Hall Loop walk will guide you along the serene shores of Lough Carra, close to Ballinrobe. Both Lough Carra and the Moore Hall House stand as captivating landmarks on this loop, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in their stories and beauty.

Michael Davitt Museum

Nestled in the picturesque village of Straide in Co. Mayo, the Michael Davitt Museum stands as a tribute to one of Ireland's most iconic historical personalities. Located a mere stone's throw away from Knock, it's here where Michael Davitt's story began — where he was born, where he grew up, and where he rests today.

This museum is not just a tribute but a journey through the life and times of a man who left an indelible mark on Ireland's history. For those deeply immersed in the annals of history, for supporters of GAA and Celtic, and for the inquisitive traveler familiar with the Davitt name but yearning to learn more, this museum is a trove of insights and knowledge.

With captivating exhibits and rich narratives, visitors will be transported back in time, walking alongside Davitt through his endeavors, understanding his passion, and realizing the profound impact of his legacy.

Come discover the Michael Davitt Museum in Straide — an enriching experience that promises to be a highlight of your Mayo visit, leaving lasting impressions and cherished memories.

King House, Boyle

Positioned in the bustling heart of Boyle, the historical King House has witnessed over 300 years of change and evolution, a tale eloquently recounted by Nollaig Feeney. This architectural gem, one of Connacht's pioneer grand townhouses, was crafted between 1720 and 1740 for the prominent Sir Henry King MP. Later, it became the esteemed residence of Edward King MP, making the King lineage one of Ireland's premier landowning dynasties.

Over its vast timeline, King House has served multiple purposes: from a family residence, a barracks, a workplace, to even a storage area. Its design traces back to the visionary William Halfpenny, mentored by the esteemed Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. Though the house resonates with Palladian elegance complete with its classical motifs, it intriguingly also holds a 17th-century fortified essence. This dual design character was instrumental when it sheltered the Connaught Rangers and Roscommon Militia in the 19th century.

A notable element is the expansive Long Gallery, seamlessly spanning the ground floor, distinguished by its Carréaux d’Octagnes patterned stonework. While symmetrically designed on a U-shaped layout across its four levels, it's believed the original vision for King House was a rectangular structure, an idea never realized.

The house shelters a variety of distinct features, including an extensive vaulted basement, an anomaly in its time. A catastrophic fire in 1788 moved the King family to Rockingham, another majestic estate.

As the 19th century rolled in, the house transformed into a military stronghold post its purchase by the War Office. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, it was christened the Dockery Barracks and later saw occupancy by the Third Infantry Battalion.

The latter part of the 20th century wasn't kind to King House. In 1960, it changed hands and saw a decline in its structural integrity. By the 1970s, it was on the brink of demolition. However, in a fortunate turn of events, the Roscommon County Council acquired it in 1987, initiating a four-year meticulous renovation. Today, it stands as a testament to its Georgian roots, housing the Boyle Civic Arts Collection, the museum for the Connaught Rangers Association, and the Boyle Town Library, welcoming visitors to immerse in its rich history. A comprehensive guidebook is available for those keen to delve deeper.

Hennigan’s Heritage Centre, Swinford

Nestled amidst the pristine landscapes of County Mayo, the Hennigan's Heritage Centre offers breathtaking views of Creagaballa Lake. Just a short 6.5km journey from Swinford's historic workhouse and a mere 20km from the renowned Museum of Country Life in Turlough, this center stands as a testament to the region's rich history.

Discover the resilience of a family that thrived on a modest ten-acre plot for almost two centuries at the Hennigan's Centre. It's not just a place; it's a journey through time. Dive deep into the tales of historical sites and their profound impact on our culture.

From relics of the prehistoric era to stories of 19th-century land estates and tenants, the displays here weave a narrative that spans generations. And as you step into the present, the center's versatility shines through. Whether you're planning a wedding, a meeting, or a conference, the welcoming hall, cozy reception room, and charming cottage are at your disposal.

And before you leave, don't miss out on the Parish Community Display. It's a glimpse into the heart and soul of the community.

Finding us is easy! We're just about 8 km (5 m) from Swinford. Simply take the N26 - Swinford-to-Ballina Road until you reach the Moy River bridge. Keep an eye out for our sign, and you'll be guided straight to our doors. We can't wait to share our stories with you!

Foxford Woolen Mills

The Foxford Woollen Mills Visitor Centre in the heart of County Mayo!

FOXFORD was founded in 1892 by an Irish nun named Mother Agnes Morrogh-Bernard. Mother Agnes came to the town with the hope of bringing ‘Brighter Homes, Better Work and Greater Happiness’ to the locality, and her vision of possibility, tenacity, and bravery weaves an intriguing tale through the decades that followed.

Established to serve the village of Foxford over a century ago, our mill sits on the banks of the River Moy in rural County Mayo, Ireland. In collaboration with our community and creative partners, we have been manufacturing the finest wool throws and blankets for over 130 years, as well as sourcing the highest quality bed linen, homeware and clothing from suppliers and designers we are proud to support.

The FOXFORD story is timeless, rooted in our history yet looking to our future.

They welcome groups and individuals to learn from our experienced guides about a century of innovation, forward-thinking, manufacturing and craftsmanship. 

Monday to Thursday – 10.30am and 11.30am
Duration 20 minutes - Free
Booking Required
Enquiries to tours@foxford.com or call 094 9256104 or log onto www.foxford.com

Dine at the Olde Mill Restaurant: Nestled on the first floor, this cozy spot offers a warm and inviting ambiance. Whether you're in the mood for a simple cup of tea, a light snack, or a hearty meal, they've got you covered. With seating for up to 110 guests, there's always a spot for you and your loved ones. 

Discover Treasures at the Mill Shop: On the ground floor, you'll find a treasure trove of Irish-made giftware. From the iconic Foxford rugs and cozy blankets to the traditional tweeds, there's something for everyone. 

Admire Craftsmanship at the Jewellery Workshop: Up on the first floor, witness the magic of Claire and Michael as they handcraft exquisite pieces of gold and silver jewellery. Whether you have a specific design in mind or want to choose from our collection, there's a piece waiting just for you.

Explore the Exhibition Centre: Located right next to the Tourist Information Office, this space celebrates art in all its forms. From paintings and sculptures to photography and pottery, we host 10-12 exhibitions annually, each telling a unique story. 

Location Matters: If you're journeying between Galway and Sligo, make a pit stop at our Visitor Centre. Conveniently located, Foxford Woolen Mills offers easy parking and all amenities under one roof. Here's a quick distance guide for you: 

Knock: 29km
Westport: 42km
Galway: 100km
Sligo: 74km
Dublin: 140km

Castlerea Railway Museum

Situated in Castlerea, County Roscommon, the Castlerea Railway Museum is a treasure trove for railway enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The museum is more than just a collection of artifacts; it's a testament to the rich railway legacy of Ireland and the dedication of those who keep its memory alive.

Upon entering the museum, you're greeted by the magnificent presence of the locomotive A55. This diesel electric, crafted by the esteemed Metropolitan Vickers of Manchester, hails from 1955. Though no longer in active service, it found a new home in Castlerea after being purchased from Iarnród Éireann. The locomotive now stands as the museum's central attraction, with an entire exhibit constructed around it.

But the A55 is just the beginning. As you delve deeper into the museum, you'll discover an extensive and varied collection of railway memorabilia. From old train tickets and uniforms to vintage signage and equipment, each artifact tells a unique story of the bygone era of Irish railways.


What makes Castlerea Railway Museum even more special is its ranking among Ireland's repositories of railway heritage. Only the renowned Ulster Folk and Transport Museum boasts a more extensive collection, making Castlerea's offering particularly significant.


Visitors interested in embarking on this nostalgic journey through Ireland's railway history are kindly reminded that visits are by appointment only. However, once inside, a warm and inviting atmosphere awaits, making it a must-visit for anyone with an appreciation for Ireland's rich railway heritage.

Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head, located just a few miles north of Ballycastle village in County Mayo, offers one of the most striking views on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. Rising roughly 40 meters from the sea, this location is not only a haven for birdwatchers but also provides breathtaking views of the Atlantic, the Staggs of Broadhaven to the west, and high cliffs along the mainland. The highlight is "Dún Briste" (the Broken Fort), an impressive sea-stack that separated from the mainland in 1393. Rich in folklore, Downpatrick Head also houses a statue of Saint Patrick, who is said to have established a church here. Local legend tells that when he drove the snakes out of Ireland, this was the point from which they plunged into the sea.

Nearby, the Céide Fields offer another dip into ancient history. Located near Ballycastle, these fields are the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, offering glimpses of field systems, enclosures, and tombs that are over 5,500 years old. What sets the Céide Fields apart is their extraordinary preservation, with ancient stone walls and settlements protected over the millennia by layers of peat bog. This site provides invaluable insights into the organization of early society in Ireland, reflecting the mastery of farming by our ancestors.

For those wanting a deeper understanding, a visitor center at the Céide Fields offers detailed insights into the site's significance. Through exhibits, audiovisual presentations, and guided tours, visitors can learn about the archaeological findings and the importance of bogs in Ireland.

A visit to Downpatrick Head and Céide Fields is more than just a journey across the Irish landscape; it's a leap back in time. This region offers a harmonious blend of raw natural beauty, intriguing ancient history, and enduring legends, making it an essential destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Athenry Castle

Standing tall and mighty over the Clareen River, Athenry Castle is not just a relic of the past but a testament to Ireland's rich history. This robust three-storey hall-keep, dating back to the mid-thirteenth century, has weathered the tests of time, wars, and changing dynasties, to tell a tale of power, defense, and architectural splendor.

From a distance, its grandeur is evident - the castle's solid stone walls and towering structure speak of an era when fortresses were the heart and soul of towns. Stepping inside, one is instantly transported to the medieval world. The vast basement, magnificent Great Hall, and attic take one through the layers of history. An added modern touch is the audio-visual room on the third floor, where visitors can immerse themselves in a 20-minute film that recounts the castle’s storied past, giving depth and context to the walls and chambers they stand in.

A key highlight of the castle is the entrance to the Great Hall, which showcases intricate carvings - a testament to the craftsmanship of the era. These carvings, complete with captivating floral motifs, are reflective of the renowned School of the West style. This distinct style, unique to Irish castles, is a visual treat for art and history enthusiasts alike.

The castle's battlements, preserved from the original 13th-century structure, offer a strategic vantage point. Their deep cruciform arrow loops, designed to protect defenders from adversaries, give an authentic feel of the battles and sieges the castle might have witnessed.

Athenry Castle isn't just about bricks and mortar; it’s about the atmosphere. A visit here is to journey back in time and feel the pulsating power of a medieval stronghold. As the jewel in the crown of one of Ireland's best-conserved medieval towns, the castle offers a holistic experience of an era gone by. For those keen to relive history, to feel the essence of power, artistry, and defense, Athenry Castle is the perfect destination.

© images courtesy of Athenry Castle staff