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Aran Inspired

County Mayo Beaches

Residents and visitors to County Mayo enjoy the beauty of 13 beautiful Blue Flag Beaches. This designation means that the beaches meet extremely high standards for water quality, cleanliness, on site facilities, lifeguards and more. These standards reach far beyond the basic bathing standards set by the EU. Keep in mind that Blue Flag designation is reserved for bathing beaches only. This means that other beaches, which you may want to visit to observe wildlife or are not suitable geographically for swimming, are not unclean because they are not designated as Blue Flag. Thirteen of County Mayo’s beaches are Blue Flag designated, the fourteenth — Carrowniskey Beach, is used almost exclusively for surfing.

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Church Island

 Church Island, also known as Shrine Island, is located in the northwest portion of Lough Carra. According to local folklore, it was initially used as a burial place for kings. Archeological data indicates that human life existed here as long ago as 3000 B.C.

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Clare Island

Clare Island sits at the mouth of Clew Bay, which is dotted with small islands –365 of them. Clare is the largest, and home to about 150 people who enjoy beautiful views of Connemara and Achill Island across the bay. The pirate queen, Granuaile, also known as Grace O’Malley, is buried here in a Cistercian Abbey that dates back to the 12th century. One of her 15th century towers still stands in the harbor. The Clare Island of today represents a haven for those looking for peaceful, untouched beaches and landscape. It can be reached by ferry from Roonagh Pier, near Louisburgh.

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Castle Archdale Islands

In the northeastern part of Lower Lough Erne, just off the coast of Archdale Country Park sit a group of tiny islands. They are actually the tops of small hills, or drumlins, created during the formation of Lough Erne. The islands are a beautiful sight, especially in autumn when the rare spindle trees appear with dark red leaves and bright pink fruits, accented by the golden aspens. Garden warblers make their homes here, rare birds nesting within the dense foliage. The most common trees in the park are the oak and ash, and they stand out from the surrounding forests, which contain an abundance of conifers. These islands once had a rich agricultural potential, but are now long deserted, as evidenced by old irrigation ditches and the ruins of what were once farmhouses.

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Devenish Island Monastery

Devenish Island encompasses an area of roughly 70 acres and is located in the southern part of Lower Lough Erne. It contains one of the finest surviving examples of the medieval round tower in all of Ireland. In addition, there are ruins of a monastic settlement, including two churches, the monastery and an oratory, all in close proximity on the southern end of the island. The Devenish Island monastic community was founded in the 6th century by Saint Molaise, who was described as a man who lived an extraordinary life that was touched repeatedly by the supernatural. Legends say that once, when a snowstorm struck while he was in the midst of an important journey, no snow accumulated on his tent as it had on those of his fellow travelers.

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Great Blasket Island

Great Blasket Island is the largest of a remote group of rugged and isolated islands off the coast of mainland County Kerry. Today, visitors reach the island by ferry. It is considered the westernmost point of the continent of Europe, and scientists believe that, millions of years ago, the island was actually attached to the mainland. It is famous as the home of a group of writers, who produced some classic pieces of literature in the 1920s and 1930s, written in the Irish language and expressive of a distinctly Irish outlook on life.

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Skellig Michael and the Beehive Huts

Twelve kilometers off the coast of County Kerry and part of the Ring of Kerry, Skellig Michael is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and rises dramatically to an altitude of 700 feet above the sea. It is an impressive site that features beehive monastic cells, also called dochans (pronounced "duckawns"), perched above nearly vertical cliffs. The beehive huts were home to the Augustinian Order of monks lived between to the 6th to 13th centuries. Skellig comes from the Irish word Sceilg, which means "rock in the ocean". Skellig Michael, or Greater Skellig, is the larger of two Skellig islands.

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The Blasket Islands

The Blasket Islands are a small archipelago of seven islands off the western tip of Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland in County Kerry. They range in size from the single acre covering Beginish (Beiginis) to the thousand-plus acres of the Great Blasket (An Blascaod Mór).

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