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Downpatrick Head

Sitting out in the wild Atlantic Ocean, Downpatrick Head is an area of unrivalled coastal beauty and historical importance…
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County Mayo
Amazing landscapes
1hr 15mins from Ireland West Airport

Downpatrick Head, County Mayo

Mighty Downpatrick Head

Just a few kilometres north of Ballycastle village, County Mayo, is the windswept outcrop of Downpatrick Head. This is the perfect place to park up and stretch your legs with an invigorating coastal walk and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean as your companion.

Downpatrick Head, County Mayo

L-R: Dún Briste sea stack and scenes from Downpatrick Head

St Patrick's legacy 

The name Downpatrick is derived from a time when St Patrick himself founded a church here. At this small peninsula, you can see the ruins of the church building, a stone cross and holy well here today. This was once a popular pilgrim destination, and today the crowds still gather here on the last Sunday of July – known as Garland Sunday – to hear mass at this sacred site.

Fast-forward through the centuries and Downpatrick Head became a lookout post during World War II. You can still see the stone building there today, and the stone aerial marker, ÉIRE 64, to let pilots know that they were flying over Ireland.

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Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

Explore St Patrick's country

Walk in St Patrick's footsteps across the island of Ireland, and see where this beloved saint left his mark.

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The broken fort

The St Patrick connections don’t end there though. Gazing out to sea, you’ll no doubt spot the small collection of islands called the Stags of Broadhaven, but you’ll also see a lone sea-stack standing close to the edge of the cliffs. This sea-stack is called Dún Briste, which means "broken fort".

Local legend says that when a pagan chieftain refused to convert to Christianity, St Patrick struck the ground with his crozier, splitting a chunk of the headland off into the ocean, with the chieftain on top! The sea stack is beautiful to behold because you can see the layers upon layers of multi-coloured rock strata.

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Dún Briste, County Mayo

Megalithic mind frame

Another intrigue of the area is Poll Na Seantainne: This is a spectacular blowhole that plummets down to the tempestuous ocean below.

While in the area make sure to take the short drive out to visit the Céide Fields Visitor Centre in Ballycastle. The Céide Fields is the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world. The remains of ancient stone walls, settlements and megalithic tombs have been preserved here thanks to a protective bog environment. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed!

Downpatrick Head highlights

Don't miss these things to see and do

Attraction

Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park

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Attraction

Céide Fields Visitor Centre & Site

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Attraction

Westport House

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Attraction

Granuaile Visitor Centre

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Attraction

Cronin's Sheebeen

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Accommodation

Belleek Park, Caravan and Camping Park

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Accommodation

Knockranny House Hotel & Spa

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Accommodation

The Ice House Hotel

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Attraction

Doolough Valley

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Attraction

The Spa at Mount Falcon Estate

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Attraction

Moyne Abbey

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