Louisburgh, in the townland of Clooncarrabaun (Gaelic 'Cluain Cearbán'), was originally a planned town, constructed in 1795 by the 3rd Earl of Altamount, John Denis Browne of Westport. Browne - later 1st Marquess of Sligo - built the town to house Catholic refugees fleeing sectarian conflict in the north of Ireland. He named the town in memory of his Uncle – Captain Henry Browne – who fought in the 1758 battle of Louisburg, on the British side against the French. After the British victory his uncle became a captain in the newly formed Louisburgh regiment.
Visit Louisburgh for our annual celebration of traditional Irish music and song.
Louisburgh Feile Chois Cuain - April/May
Louisburgh is the focal point of an area some 450 square miles in extent, stretching from Killary Fjord to the South, to the Owenree River to the North, and from the coast to the Erriff valley watershed in the East. All of this landscape is designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Mayo County Development Plan, and calls have been made for its designation as a 'Special Amenity Area'.
It contains 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 clapperbridge (stone bridge with 37 arches) at Killeen, and numerous other monuments, especially around Killadoon (Cill an Dúin, "church of the fort"). In Killeen graveyard, there is a large standing stone, christianised during the 7th century with a Maltese Cross, enclosed by a double circle. There is also an early Christian slab, inscribed with a main cross at the centre surrounded by four smaller crosses. This type of cross is known as the Cross of the Thieves.
Open blanket bog drapes this majestic mountainous landscape fringed by the Atlantic coast and Clare Island, standing fortress-like to the West. Climbing Mweelrea (Connaught's highest mountain) on a summer's afternoon to be presented with the panorama of the Twelve Bens to the South, the Sheefry Mountains to the East and Croagh Patrick to the North - one might be in Nepal or Tibet! Sea mist clings to the valley walls while Killary runs horizontally like a blue dagger through a vertical landscape. You are advised to buy the half-inch maps of the area - tourist offices, newsagents, etc. (sheets 10 & 11)
Mayo's coastline accounts for 16.8% of the total Irish coast, 16% of Ireland's sandy beaches, and many of Ireland's Blue Flag beaches. Three of these beaches are located in the Louisburgh area... Carramore, Old Head, and Bertra, while beaches at Killadoon have been rated as the best in Europe, i.e. Tallabawn (Silver Strand) and Dooaghtry.
Croagh Patrick is practically staring in your window, and up to 500 people climb all or part of it daily during the summer months. "Reek Sunday" (the last Sunday in July) sees more than 25,000 making the climb.
It should be stressed that this is a dangerous climb as the mountain is often shrouded in mist, and should only be attempted on clear days. Climbers should stay together, and ensure someone is aware of their whereabouts and expected time of arrival back. A breathtaking panoramic view of Clew Bay studded with its 365 islets is experienced on the descent - rewarding after such a strenuous climb!
For scenic drives travel south to Connemara via Doolough and Leenane, north to Achill via Westport and Newport, or to Ballycastle and the Ceide Fields via Castlebar and Pontoon, or east to Tourmakeady and Lough Nafooey via Westport/Tourmakeady and Leenane, or if you fancy leaving the car out the road at Roonagh pier, go west to Clare Island or lnishturk. Knock Shrine outside Charlestown is another important religious site in the area, associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Four of the West's most important developing fisheries are located in the area, Bunowen, Carrowniskey, Delphi and Erriff with deep-sea fishing available from Roonagh, Old Head and Westport.
A visit to the Tourist Office will benefit you in many ways, so do call and you will find a willing and trained staff to help you with your queries.