Castlebar Tourist Attractions
Castlebar (Caislean an Barraigh, "Barry's Castle"), county town of Mayo county, lies in the northwest of Ireland, at the junction of the N5 and the N60.In 1798 a French and Irish force landed at Castlebar and routed a British unit - an engagement known as the "Castlebar Races."The central feature of this little market town, which also has some light industry, is The Mall, lined with lime trees. There is a small local airport.
3mi/5km northeast of Castlebar on the N5 lies Turlough, with a well-preserved round tower (National Monument), unusually short and squat, in the churchyard. Adjoining it is a ruined 17th C. church.
Beyond Turloogh, on the road from Castlebar to Foxford, Straid has the ruins of an abbey church containing fine sculpture and tombstones.
From Castlebar through Mayo the N60 continues to Claremorris from which the N17 leads northeast to Knock, a place of pilgrimage which attracts a million visitors every year.To guarantee them a comfortable journey an airport suitable for jumbo jets was constructed here in 1986. The new church (1984) which dominates the village can accommodate 6,000 people.
National Marian Shrine
The fame of Knock goes back to 1879 when 15 local people claim to have seen the Madonna, accompanied by St Joseph and St John the Evangelist, behind the old parish church. The appearance is said to have lasted two hours. Over life-size figures on the site of the miracle commemorate the event. The Pope considered Knock important enough to pay a visit in 1979.
Knock Folk Museum
Near the new village church, a folk museum was opened which documents life in the country in the 19th C. The principal attraction is the "museum in a museum" - a completely built thatched-roof cottage.
The R323 runs east from Knock to Ballyhaunis, in which can be seen remains of an Augustinian priory; the church has been restored.The loughs south of Castlebar - Lough Mallard, Castlebar Lough and Islanddeady Lough - are a fisherman's paradise.
Ballinrobe (Baile an Rodhba, "Town of the Robe River) lies in the west of Ireland at the point where the N84 crosses the River Robe. To the west of the town is Lough Mask (good fishing), and beyond this the chain of the Partry Mountains, rising to their highest point in Benwee (2,206ft/672m). Ballinrobe is popular both as an angling center and a base from which to explore the surrounding area.
Lough Mask (Lough Carra)
The road from Ballinrobe to Ballintubber (T40) winds along a narrow strip of land between the much-indented shores of Lough Mask and Lough Carra, which are linked by an underground stream. On an islet in the green waters of Lough Carra is a cairn marking the grave of the writer George Moore (1852-1933).
9mi/15km north of Ballinrobe, on a by-road to the right of the N84, is Ballintubber or Ballintober Abbey (National Monument), an Augustinian house founded in 1216. Since then - in spite of the devastation wrought by Cromwell's troops in 1653 - it has continued in use as a place of worship down to the present day. The church is cruciform in plan. In a chapel on the south side of the choir is an elaborate altar-tomb with a row of finely carved figures on the pediment. The church and cloister were excellently restored in 1963-66.The abbey lay on the pilgrim road to Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, which can be glimpsed in the distance through the arches of the cloister.
In Lough Mask, separated from the park of Lough Mask House by a narrow strip of water, lies the islet of Inishmaine, on which are the ruins of a small Augustinian friary (13th C., National Monument). The cruciform church has good carvings of animals and foliage.