Heritage

The Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina

Nestled along the banks of the River Moy in County Mayo, the Jackie Clarke Collection is the most important collection of Irish historical material in public hands. Comprising over 100,000 items spanning 400 years, it includes items associated with some of the most influential figures of Ireland’s history including, Wolfe Tone, Michael Collins, Dr. Douglas Hyde, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa. Take a journey through time like you have never experienced before. This exceptional collection of material holds the key to Ireland’s past and is an essential stop for anyone with an interest in Ireland’s story throughout the ages.

Its magnificently renovated and refurbished building is home to rare books, proclamations, newspapers, autographs, letters, posters, political cartoons, photographs, maps, hunger strike material and personal items from the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

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Rosserk Abbey, Ballina

Located along the River Moy, Rosserk Abbey is a compact friary of the Third Order Franciscans, founded around 1440 by a member of the Joyce family. It is just 4km from Killala, County Mayo.

The friary has been in ruins since the Suppression of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII, around 1540, but remains well preserved. Visitors can view the finely carved west doorway, single-aisle church and unique double piscina.

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Moyne Abbey, Killala, Mayo

In 1460, Moyne Abbey was established in County Mayo, just 3.5km from Killala. The founder of the Observantine Franciscan monastery was likely McWilliams Bourke or a member of the Barrett family. The impressive ruin includes a cruciform church, chapel, tower and cloisters. Visitors can also explore the sacristy, chapter house, kitchen and refectory, under which a stream flows. The abbey was burned by Sir Richard Bingham in 1590, but it’s believed friars continued to reside there until about 1800.

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Hennigan’s Heritage Centre

The wonderful Hennigan’s Heritage Centre is situated in unspoilt countryside near Swinford, Mayo.

It is located overlooking Creagaballa Lake, 6.5km from the workhouse at Swinford where thousands of people from the region died during the 19th century due to starvation, and 20km from The Museum of Country Life, Turlough.

Hennigan’s Centre is a really authentic and fascinating, interactive initiative in County Mayo.

The purpose of Hennigan’s Heritage Centre is to preserve and showcase the heritage of life in Mayo, from farming, to the house and home, to jobs and work, to the celebration of life and death. At the heart of the heritage centre lies beautifully preserved thatched cottage built in the 1870’s where the Hennigan family lived until 1970. The proprietor, Tom Hennigan, realising his small farm was no longer viable, decided to open the centre as a house and farm, to show the public how his family survived there – Tom himself, a wonderful storyteller, was born in and grew up in this house.

As a result of Tom’s initiative, adults and children alike have a unique opportunity to see and hear how this family survived on less than ten acres of poorish land for nearly 200 years, and to learn about historical sites and their influence on our culture.

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National Museum Of Ireland – Country Life, Mayo

Explore four floors of award-winning exhibition galleries, a historic country house and formal gardens at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar. Set in the spectacular grounds of Turlough Park House, this museum is located just five minutes’ drive from Castlebar and is the only branch of National Museum of Ireland outside Dublin.

The museum is home to Ireland’s National Folk life Collection and charts the day-to-day lives of our rural ancestors from the 1850s to the 1950s. Exhibitions explore topics such as traditional crafts and skills, life in the home, farming and fishing, life in the community and festivals and customs.

Visitors can see how ordinary people lived during an extraordinary century of change, rebellion, revolution and revival. Interactive audio and visual displays, objects, rare archive photography and film footage combine to make the past present.

Free Admission to all our museums

Opening hours

Tuesday - Saturday: 10am-5pm

Sunday - Monday: 1pm-5pm

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Belleek Woods, Ballina, Mayo

Explore the enchanted Belleek Woods: Walk or cycle through the tranquil Belleek Woods which features some fantastic trails – a perfect place to embrace our heritage in Mayo North.

There are many historical features from bygone days to unearth including a hermitage site and the Knox-Gore Monument also known as “The Horse’s Grave”.

Check out too the ominous concrete boat the SS Creteboom and explore its fascinating history, and see an extraordinary wall built during the famine in Ireland.

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SS Crete Boom, Ballina

An unusual feature lies derelict on a sandbank between Ballina Quay and Belleek Woods – that of the ‘SS Crete Boom’, an old concrete ship in Ballina lying on the River Moy. For the people of the town, familiarity has dulled the sense of wonder, and only the oldest amongst the town’s residents can remember back to before it arrived. Few can remember the actual year of her arrival, but many can remember swimming and diving off the hulk in the good old days of yesteryear.

Over the years, several theories have advanced concerning the origins of the Creteboom, and its former uses. Some say it was built as a decoy to fool the bomber-crews of the German Airforce. Others say it was used to train naval cadets in WW1, or that she was employed to bring ammunition from England to France during the same period.

None of these stories have any basis in fact, but the history of this venerable old maritime relic is fascinating nonetheless.

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Foxford Woollen Mills

Weave an unforgettable experience at Foxford Woollen Mills: Take a short drive to the town of Foxford and the Foxford Woollen Mills. Originally founded by an Irish Sister of Charity in 1892, the fledgling woollen and textiles business overcame many challenges down through the years in order to survive. 

Enjoy an interactive journey through a turbulent and fascinating history, finishing with a tour of the working mill where master craftspeople are at work on some of the world’s finest weaves using techniques and traditions passed down through generations to create contemporary blankets, garments and products that are sought after worldwide.

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Céide Fields, Mayo

The Céide Fields in North Mayo will certainly give you a unique experience. For this is not just another archaeological monument or visitor centre. Here you can indulge yourself in a vast prehistoric landscape, a natural wild ecology of blanket bog, dramatic cliffs and coastline, and a much acclaimed building, which has received Ireland’s most prestigious architectural award.

The Céide Fields are the oldest known field systems in the world, over five and a half millennia old. It is a unique Neolithic landscape of world importance, which has changed our perception of our Stone Age ancestors. The remains of stone field walls, houses and megalithic tombs are preserved beneath a blanket of peat over several square miles. They tell a story of the everyday lives of a farming people, their organized society, their highly developed spiritual beliefs, and their struggle against a changing environment beyond their control.

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The Michael Davitt Museum, Straide, Mayo

The Michael Davitt Museum is located in the picturesque and historic village of Straide in Co Mayo on the N58 route between Ballyvary and Foxford.

The museum is housed in the magnificently restored pre-Penal Church that was used prior to the enactment of the 1690’s Penal laws which were more commonly known as popery laws.

The Visitor Centre includes the beautiful surrounding grounds of Straide Abbey, which together with parking and picnic area provides an ideal destination for one of the great family days out in Mayo..

Michael Davitt was christened in 1846 during the time of the Great Famine in the Penal Church in Straide. 

The church is adjacent to the 13th Century remains of Straide Abbey. Founded in 1245 Straide Abbey has a magnificent medieval high alter. Michael Davitt is buried in the cloister area of the Abbey. Anne Deane President of the Ladies Land League is buried in the Abbey.

Opening Hours

Tuesday – Saturday 10.30am – 5.30pm

Closed Sunday 

Entrance fee:  Adults €5 Children €3

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North Mayo Family Heritage Centre, Enniscoe House

Located on the Enniscrone country estate, this is dedicated to promoting the rich heritage of the region. The centre is one of North Mayo’s main attractions, incorporating a museum displaying an impressive array of local farm and household artefacts. 

If you have come to Mayo looking for your family history, here you’ll find a family history research centre, designated by the Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF), offering a service to people tracing their North Mayo roots.

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