Mayo

This part of Ireland is so steeped in Irish history you could spend years exploring so to give yourself the best chance of seeing everything and having a relaxing base to call your own why not rent a self catering cottage in Mayo. The natural and unspoilt environment of fabulous landscaping has existed as it is now for over 5,000 years - for example, Ceidi Fields with its visitors' centre, is an area of extensive Stone Age farmland stretching over 24 square miles. There are lakes - Lough Conn, Cullin, Curra and Mash, quartzite peaks along its Atlantic coast, sandy beaches and rugged cliffs.

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The Mayo landscape can be considered to be divided into two different terrains -bogs in the north and mountains in the south. Pilgrimages are important for the Knock Marian Shrine and Pilgrimage Centre, where the Virgin Mary appeared in the mid-19th century. Croagh Patrick, the mountain where St. Patrick prayed and fasted for forty days, is a place of pilgrimage on the last Sunday in July, many making the climb with bare feet. At the foot of the mountain is the National Famine Memorial. Check out the story of Grace O'Malley, also known as the Pirate Queen of Mayo, at the Granville Centre. Ballina, in the Moy Valley, is the largest city in Mayo, and the neighbourhood is home to all the usual outdoor sports.