A Taste of Mayo
Georgina Campbell visits one of the
country’s most bountiful larders – Mayo –
and shines a spotlight on its best foodie spots
A very special place for anglers, walkers and anyone with a natural empathy for big scenery and untamed wildness, Mayo really is magnificent. A highlight of the Wild Atlantic Way (www.failteireland.ie/wildatlanticway) west coast driving route, its character is defined by a rugged island-studded coastline, vast empty spaces, fish-filled rivers and towering mountains, notably the iconic Croagh Patrick, standing guard over Clew Bay and the handsome town of Westport.
And Mayo has great food and hospitality too, making it the perfect destination for food lovers who also enjoy the outdoors. But Mayo’s biggest USP – and a marketing stroke of genius – is the 42km Great Western Greenway (www.greenway.ie) walking and cycling route, between Westport and Achill Island, and its younger sister, the Gourmet Greenway (www.mulrannyparkhotel.ie/gourmet-greenway-getaway), a unique food trail along the route, created by Mulranny Park Hotel and local food producers to showcase the area’s artisan foods. All this makes Mayo a must-visit destination for food lovers.
(www.bervieachill.com) A special hideaway since 1932, John and Elizabeth Barretts’ beachside haven welcomes non-residents for afternoon tea, also dinner when there is room.
Belleek Castle Hotel
(www.belleekcastle.com) Amidst ancient woodland beside the River Moy, Paul Doran’s castle featuring sixteenth century armoury and huge open fires now makes a quirky small hotel, serving excellent food.
Stella Maris Country House Hotel
(www.stellamarisireland.com) Originally a coastguard regional headquarters, Terence McSweeney and Frances Kelly’s very special small hotel welcomes with a warm and stylish interior, majestic sea views and local food.
Clare Island Lighthouse
An island lighthouse off Ireland’s rugged west coast must offer the ultimate escape.
(www.newporthouse.ie) For the most discerning, Kieran Thompson’s beautiful riverside house will be the ultimate place to stay on the Gourmet Greenway: superb wine list and excellent, understated cooking.
Crossmolina, near Ballina
(www.enniscoe.com) Converted outbuildings at Susan Kellett’s charming Georgian mansion overlooking Lough Conn offer a genealogy centre, small agricultural museum with working blacksmith, and restored walled gardens (with tea rooms).
(www.ardmorecountryhouse.com) Secluded in neat gardens above Westport Harbour, Pat and Noreen Hoban’s small hotel features local fish and shellfish on evening menus – and probably at breakfast too.
(www.ballywarrenhouse.com) Diane and David Skelton’s welcoming country house near Ashford Castle offers very comfy rooms and five-course dinners, by arrangement, in the lovely garden room.
The Wild Atlantic Way, Co Mayo