Louisburgh – charming gateway to the Atlantic coast
Louisburgh is 21km (13 miles) west of Westport on the Louisburgh Road (R335). Built on the Bunowen River in 1795 by Lord Altamount of Westport House to house Catholic refugees escaping sectarian conflict in northern areas of Ireland, it retains many 18th century features in style and scale. Louisburgh is a beautiful small town with lots of character and the surrounding area is packed full of history and charm. It is an area of immense natural beauty with Croagh Patrick to the east, the Atlantic to the west, the Sheeffry Hills and Mweelrea to the south and Clew Bay to the north.
The Granuaile Centre commemorates Grace O’Malley (1530-1600), commonly known as Granuaile (Grainne Mhaol in Irish Gaelic), who was chieftain of the O’Malley clan in the 16th century. Known as the Pirate Queen, she ruled Clew Bay and the mainland and islands of western County Mayo. The fascinating multimedia presentation in the centre tells the story of her legendary exploits at sea and on land. It is open from June to September daily from 10am to 6pm or by appointment for groups by calling +353 98 66341.
This magnificent mountain landscape is draped with open blanket bog. To the west is the wild Atlantic coast, where Clare Island looms like a sentinel. To the south are majestic Mweelrea (Connaught’s highest mountain) and the Sheeffry Hills. Croagh Patrick beckons from the east. A short drive from Louisburgh is the famous Killary Harbour, a 16km (10 mile) long fjord that boasts some of the finest scenery in the west of Ireland.
Located as it is on the Atlantic coast, Louisburgh is famous for its award-winning beaches. Blue Flag beaches close to Louisburgh include Carramore, Old Head and Bertra. To the west and south of Louisburgh, on the road that is the continuation of the town’s main street, are several Green Coast beaches, including Cross beach, Carrowniskey beach, White Strand and Silver Strand.
Louisburgh has a rich archaeological heritage with over 700 known archaeological monuments, and 20 areas of scientific interest. There are court-tombs at Furmoyle and Aillemore, a megalithic wedge-tomb at Srahwee, abbeys at Kilgeever and Murrisk, a clapper bridge (stone bridge with 37 arches) at Killeen, and numerous other monuments, especially around Killadoon.
Traditional Music Festival
Every year, on the May Bank Holiday Weekend, the town hosts a traditional music festival, the Feile Chois Chuain, attracting a large number of Irish music enthusiasts from many parts of Ireland and abroad.
Louisburgh on the map
Pic: Kat Hamilton/Creative Commons