Explore Mayo & Galway – 1 Day Itinerary on the Wild Atlantic Way

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Apart from a brief summer job at the holy Marian shrine of Knock one summer at college, I didn’t know a lot about County Mayo before planning this itinerary.

I was lucky enough to have friends and family near Galway City and Clifden, so spending time in both was something I knew I wanted to do on this part of my Wild Atlantic Way adventures.

The exciting part about this one day itinerary was that I would get to see so many new-to-me locations, including two Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Points, Keem Bay and Killary Harbour.

The church at Kylemore Abbey
Photo by Patrick Hughes: Neo-Gothic church at Kylemore Abbey


Mayo – Galway Itinerary (One Day)

In this itinerary, I leave the gorgeous Keem Bay and Achill Island behind and head for the next ‘significant discovery point’ on my Wild Atlantic Way trip, Killary Harbour. I make brief stops at Newport, Co. Mayo; Erriff River; the wrong bit of Killary Harbour before finding the right spot! Then it’s on to Kylemore Abbey for a visit to the gorgeous Castle and Church and grounds.

Newport, Co. Mayo

When I start exploring in my campervan, it’s likely that I will stop for a photo opportunity more than once before I reach my destination! It wasn’t too far from the bridge across to the mainland from Achill Island until I reached Newport, a pretty river town straddled by an arched bridge.

There was enough of a break in the weather for some small boats to be out braving the Black Oak River running through the town. There’s ample parking for cars or motorhomes on the quieter side of the bridge, leaving space for photographers to get their shot.

The town was busy on this weekday stop and is a great wee spot to stop for a cup of coffee or stock up on provisions. The houses are colourful and even more so when you drive through the streets.

I had a distance to go to reach Killary Harbour, so back into the motorhome I went.

Erriff River

Despite my firm intention to keep on driving, another bridge caught my eye. This time it was crossing the Erriff River, a place I admit I don’t know at all.

The vista was just gorgeous as the early summer heat started to break through the clouds. I have learned that this area is great for fishing and a number of well-trodden hikes take off from nearby.

I was just happy to take in the scene for today.

NOT Killary Harbour Viewpoint

Google Maps is usually my friend, but not on this itinerary! Killary Harbour is a fjord of 14kms and of course there is a coastline on both the North and South coasts of the harbour. Google brought me 14km along the North side. I wasn’t the only one who drove the wrong way! However, I did end up at a lovely little fishing pier on the harbour.

As I was trying to make a *ewe* turn (lol at my own dad joke!), I did meet this very charming ewe who was happily at rest on the side of the road.

Of course, this is still Killary Harbour, just not the side of it appointed by the Wild Atlantic Way organisers as the principal viewpoint.

Having realised my error, it was back into the campervan and onwards through Leenaun, Co. Galway towards the Harbour Viewpoint.

Killary Harbour (the real viewpoint)

Journey times in Ireland can be quite long when you are driving a big motorhome along a single carriageway. It was much later than hoped by the time I pulled in at the ‘real’ viewpoint! However, the long route was easily forgotten when the view is as sensational as this one. This picture looks down the fjord and towards its opening into the Atlantic Ocean.

I have written a whole article about Killary Harbour, including accommodation, hiking options and excursions.

Kylemore Abbey

Just 11 miles away from Killary Harbour lies Kylemore Abbey, a stunning 19th Century Castle, Victorian Walled Garden and neo-Gothic mini-cathedral that are nestled on a 1,000 acre estate in Connemara, Co. Galway.

The view across the water is sensational on its own, but it is the attention to detail in the interior of the Castle and the fascinating history that draws the visitor in. The long history of the place intertwines wealth, nobility and a Benedictine order of nuns in a way that begs exploration. I’ve written a much longer article about Kylemore Abbey right here and it has some useful links and gorgeous photographs that bring you a little more detail about this popular tourist site.

Find the accompanying video for this article below:

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I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.