Our Fly The Flag Destination Guide To the best of Ballina, Co Mayo…and some surrounding areas …
Celebrate an Irish summer with our Fly The Flag Destination Guides featuring travel tips, restaurant recommendations, luxurious hotel stays and a focus on Irish shops and produce. If you are planning an Irish getaway – scroll and save for your next trip …
WHERE TO STAY
Ashford Castle, Cong
Best For: A luxury escape. If it’s seclusion, relaxation, and extra luxury you are looking for this summer then Ashford Castle has it covered. Voted the most romantic hotel in Europe, it has multiple offers for two – one of them being a two-night package with Champagne to start the celebrations, a romance filled five-course dinner on one of the evenings in the George V dining room, a cupid-inspired archery class on one day and full Irish breakfast daily. Not to mention a rose petal room turndown and a complimentary round of golf on their nine-hole course. Starting from €2,615; www.ashfordcastle.com.
The Ice House, The Quay Lane, Ballina
Best For: Some riverside relaxing. A “Summer Stay and Eat” package – with two nights’ stay and one dinner at the Ice House Hotel – is an experience worth taking. Priced from €290 per night, this offer includes two nights’ accommodation, dinner on one evening in 54° 9° Restaurant and a cooked-to-order breakfast each morning. Enjoy the beautiful river views through floor to ceiling windows and their stylish and spacious rooms; www.icehousehotel.ie.
Belleek Castle, Ballina
Best For: A romantic getaway. Built on an Abbey dating from Medieval times, this 1820s neo-gothic Castle is warm and friendly with open log fires and plenty of antiques from fossils to weapons and armoury to spark curiosity. Facilities include the award-winning Library Restaurant, the Spanish Armada Bar and Jack Fenn’s, a popular brunch spot. All this can be enjoyed on a one-night “Belleek Castle Experience.” Guests can also take in the sprawling grounds on the banks of the river Moy and walk the Fairy Trail that loops through the largest woodland in Mayo. This is perfect for working up an appetite before a three-course dinner in the Library Restaurant, where the team has developed a new food philosophy, the spirit of which is to search for more “depth of flavour”, via classic and imaginative cooking techniques. Relax in front of the castle’s open log fires before retiring to bed – many rooms have four-poster beds with overhead canopies. From €350 per night, this getaway also includes two glasses of prosecco on arrival with chocolates in your room and a fabulous breakfast the next morning; www.belleekcastle.com.
Mount Falcon, Ballina
Best For: Ultimate relaxation. The two night relax and unwind summer special is a stay designed for treating yourself. Stay in a beautiful superior room at Mount Falcon and start your day with a delicious full Irish breakfast in Mount Falcon’s award-winning restaurant. Explore the 100 acres of mature parkland, meandering woodland and riverside walks throughout the day. A complimentary facial is included in this package too – perfect for unwinding on arrival. With access to the woodland view swimming pool, thermal suite and the bonus of a late check out, you can settle into a weekend at Mount Falcon with ease. The two night “Relax and Unwind” summer special starts at €750 and carries on into September; www.bookings.mountfalcon.com.
WHERE TO SHOP
Paula Flynn of TheShopkeepers.com and THE GLOSS collated a fabulously diverse and exciting list of independent retailers around Ireland for The Best Shops Ireland and we couldn’t resist featuring some of them in our Irish Destination Guides for the summer. Look no further, here is where to shop in Co Mayo.
Click here to see where to shop in Westport, Co Mayo.
WHERE TO EAT
Top tips and hidden gems as recommended by our Food Editor Ciara McQuillan …
Foxford Cafe, Foxford
If you are staying in Ballina, Foxford café is seriously worth a visit – a mere eleven minute drive away. Especially if you are already visiting the Woollen Mill. The café offers hot and cold dishes with a seasonal salad selection all made in the Foxford kitchen with ingredients that are locally sourced. For those of us with a sweet tooth, there are delicious breads, scones, cakes and desserts made on-site daily. All available to takeaway or to sit-in inside their beautifully blue interior. With many Foxford items available to purchase – this is a place to visit when in the area. www.foxford.com
Poacher Restaurant, First floor, 4 Market Square
Poacher restaurant in the heart of Ballina boasts a modern dining experience in a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. All made with Irish sourced ingredients the expansive menu covers Irish dining with a modern twist. For starters, the soy and ginger marinated tuna tartare strikes an appetising chord, as does the chestnut wood-smoked and crispy fried mayo corn fed hen egg and the braised Ballaghaderreen Pork neck and kimchi croquette. A main of pan fried wild Atlantic hake always hits the spot as would a fresh yoghurt, lemon and ground elder baked manor farm chicken breast. Or opt for something from the vegan and vegetarian menu like an aubergine and lentil Moussaka. www.thepoacher.ie
The Ice House Restaurant, The Quay
Boasting stunning views of the River Moy, this is the perfect place to get comfortable and enjoy a great atmosphere. With a lunch menu ready to whet any appetite, it includes dishes like Wild Atlantic seafood chowder and crispy calamari and tempura haddock fillet. For dinner, restaurant 54° 9° features delicious options like burrata cheese and parma ham for starters or epic pan-fried seabass fillets served with mango salsa for a main course. It is a beautiful venue with a great menu to boot. www.icehousehotel.ie
The Old Salt Café, Gannons Parking, Irishtown
The Old Salt in Irishtown is a charming coffee stand worth the visit – and a seriously good flat white! Solely serving coffee, they have it down to a fine art. It is THE place to get your coffee fix when in the Foxford area. www.theoldsaltcafe.business.site
WHERE TO VISIT
Ballina Arts Centre, Ballina Civic Offices, Arran Place
The development of Ballina Arts Centre offers supports to visual artists by the provision of a visual arts space and a growing programme of artists’ workshop and masterclasses, presenting a programme of workshops, talks, seminars around the exhibitions. There are three exhibitions running until the end of August – one of them being ‘And they she all lived happily ever after…’ by Úna Morris. Her work on show is an initial exploration of some of the complexities of traditional fairytales from a feminist point of view. Her work varies in scales from tiny handmade objects referencing childhood, loss and legacy to large scale monochromatic paper and tape drawings. Open from Tuesday to Thursday from 11am to 4pm (closed from 1pm to 2pm) and Saturday 26 of August from 12am to 5pm. www.ballinaartscentre.com
Belleek Woods, Ballina
This is a peaceful woodland stretching for six miles and is therefore one of the largest urban forests in Europe. Featuring a number of trails that weave through the woodland, it is the perfect spot for walking, running and cycling. The wood features a hermitage site a Knox-Gore monument also known as “The Horse’s Grave” which is a concrete boat lain breached at Belleek Woods for decades and a wall built during the famine. There is a lot of native wildlife – along the many pathways you can discover many wild fauna from bluebells to wild garlic. Also nestled in the woodlands is Belleek Castle. www.belleekforestpark.ie
The Quiet Man Museum, Cong
For any Quiet Man Enthusiasts, The Quiet Man Museum is a must. The museum is an exact replica of the White O’Morn cottage in the movie. The museum hosts walking tours of The Quiet Man film locations and consists of a short, easy stroll around Cong village showing off many of the key scene locations. The Quiet Man B&B is located just one mile from Cong Village and is home to one of the largest collections of Quiet Man memorabilia ever assembled. If you are a fan – get going! www.quietmanmuseum.com
Mulranny beach is a sandy beach located southwest of Mulranny village – it is 25 minutes from Westport. The beach consists of a long expansive stretch of sand which is backed by pebbles and boulders. From the beach there are glorious views across the sheltered waters of Clew Bay and the mountains beyond. This is a wonderful spot for swimming, walking, windsurfing and kayaking or simply taking in the views, and enjoying some mindfulness with a coffee in hand from The Goat Café nearby; directions to the café here. Fabulous views with breath taking coffee or the other way around – you know what we mean. www.discoverireland.ie