The name Achill is possibly derived from Eagle – although none have been seen here for well over a hundred years. If you’re into raptors though, you might spot the fastest animal on earth, the peregrine falcon, instructing it’s young to fly along these cliffs in the autumn.
At 42 km, the Great Western Greenway, constructed on the route of the redundant Westport to Achill railway, is the longest dedicated walking and cycling trail in Ireland. It is a magnificent way to experience this part of Mayo.
Sheep have free range on the island, easily outnumbering the permanent inhabitants.
The island's current population of just under 3,000 is about half of what it was before the Great potato famine of the mid 1800’s. A Deserted Village at the base of Slievemore Mountain has the remains of over eighty dry stone cottages that are a bleak reminder of the famine times. The houses are aligned north-south, and would have been originally thatched. An entire family together with livestock would inhabit the single, windowless, main room, utilising beds of heather and rushes.
Constructed in 1429 by the forefathers of Grace O'Malley, the legendary pirate queen who was born and buried on Clare Island, the 12 meter high Tower at Kildavnet is well worth a visit as you cycle around Achill.
How to get there - Car advised..
By Air: Flights to Ireland West Airport (Knock) from the UK
Knock Airport - about 1.5 hours from house.
Shannon Airport - about 3 hours from house.
Dublin Airport - about 4 hours from house.
By Sea: Ferry crossings from Pembroke/Fishguard to Rosslare.
Rosslare Port is about 5.5 hours from house
Dublin City Port/Holyhead has a fast crossing and is about 4 hours from house.