Posts tagged with: 'Roonagh'

Hiking Inisturk – The Most Beautiful of Mayo Islands

When I think of wonderful little Inisturk, I’m reminded of the sweet opening verse from Nancy Spain, the popular ballad most famously sung by Christy Moore, “Of all the stars that ever shone, Not one does twinkle like your pale blue eyes. Like golden corn at harvest time, your hair. Sailing in my boat the wind gently blows and fills my sail. Your sweet-scented breath is everywhere”. On the boat out from Roonagh to go hiking Inisturk, I can’t stop muttering it to myself.

Lying 15 km off Mayo’s wild west coast, Inisturk is the county’s most beautiful and striking island. From its little sheltered harbour on the east side, the island rises to a maximum height of some 190m in the middle before reaching its zenith at wonderful western sea cliffs.

hiking Inisturk

From the Signal Tower towards Achill Island.

While the marked walking trail up from the harbour turns left after the lake and swings back down by the surprising GAA pitch etched into the rocky landscape, we turn right. Up the small steep hill we wander, to the ruined Napoleonic Tower on top. The views from this early 19th Century signal tower are to die for. The great thing about Inisturk (Inishturk) is that it is at the centre of the string of fabulous islands and magnificent mainland coastline that marks out Mayo’s coastline from other parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.

From up at the ruined tower, you can look out at (N to S) Achill, Corraun, Clare Island, Nephin Beg mountains, Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick, Caher Island, the Sheeffry mountains, Mweelrea, Killary Harbour, Benchoona, Tully mountain, Inishbofin and Inishark. Arguably the finest view in Ireland.

If there is a heaven, then this is it.

We descend from this summit westwards, with the beautiful cliffs at the end of the island as our target. Bring your binoculars, as the views of all kinds of seabird, from Fulmar and Puffin to Razorbill, Guillemot and Peregrine Falcon are wonderful.

Continuing along the coast, then turning inland, we follow a long stone wall before re-joining the trail we had earlier quit. From the pitch, we visit the tiny natural cove at Port an Dún and its virtually no-longer-distinguishable caiseal remains, before rambling along the narrow road back to the Community Club. Dinner and a beverage are enjoyed, while we discuss one of the great Mayo experiences that is hiking Inisturk.

hiking inisturk 2

Looking back towards Croagh Patrick

Inisturk (Inishturk) boasts three B&Bs, which can be found on the local tourism website.

Hiking Inisturk

13 km; 5 hours with plenty of stops for birdwatching and taking it all in. Paradise!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Clare Island

The old lighthouse at its northern tip was our target during a day trip over to Clare Island in late summer.

A beautiful day welcomed us to the pier at Roonagh, itself a lovely spot. Had we been a little earlier arriving, with some time to spare, we could have walked the low stony coastline southward from the pier’s carpark, down to the first strand reached, to look out for the seals that often lounge on the partly submerged rocks just off.

But today, our thoughts were on the offshore island lying 5 km to the northwest, guarding the entrance to Clew Bay to its east. Clare Island protects the inner bay, like a large humpbacked sentinel. Its highest point, Knockmore, rises 462 m above the foam below. The island measures around 7 km west to east and a maximum of 4 km north to south.

Our walk took us from the harbour along narrow tarmac roads and gravel tracks up to the lighthouse, perched precariously above impressive cliffs. We lounged around for a while on the very lovely machair grass, taking in some sun and appreciating the views north towards Achill, Corraun and Mulranny.

Clare Island

Clare Island lighthouse

We did not have time on this occasion to head westwards towards the end of the island, its Napoleonic tower and Knockmore. I know from previous visits what a great walk that is.

On our return leg, we tried and failed to locate the fulachta fia marked on a roadside signpost. By the lovely beach, we enjoyed ice creams and beer. I was disappointed, however, to see invasive Gunnera tinctoria that had been treated by spraying. I had believed the efforts to remove Clare Island Gunnera were by the more environmentally sensitive cutting and injecting method, rather than the somewhat more indiscriminate spraying.

Back by the harbour, we visited Gráinne Mhaol’s still reasonably intact tower house. The return ferry trip was just as enjoyable as the earlier crossing.

Clare Island guided walking holidays

“Take Island Away” !

P.S. We were amused by this sign and trust the islanders don’t really feel this way about their lovely home !

Clare Island Info

Roonagh pier is 29 km west of Westport, through Louisburgh.

Discover more about Clare Island in County Mayo.

View the ferry timetable.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment