History Of Achill

Achill Island in County Mayo is the largest island off the coast of Ireland, and is situated off the west coast. It has a population of 2,700 people and has an area of 148km2 (57 sq miles).

Achill is attached to the mainland by Michael Davitt Bridge, between the villages of Achill Sound and Polranny. A bridge was first completed here in 1887, and replaced by the current structure in 1949.
Despite some unsympathetic development, the island retains its striking natural beauty. The cliffs of Croaghaun on the western end of the island are the third highest sea cliffs in Europe but are inaccessible by road, so bring your hiking boots and prepare yourself for a real treat. Near the westernmost point of Achill, Achill Head, is Keem Bay, a majestic place and home to a splendid cast of sea life including basking shark, seals, dolphins and sunfish. Keel Beach is popular with tourists and locals, from a pleasant stroll along the beach to wind and sea swept activities; there is always something to do or see.

South of Keem beach is Moytoge Head, which with its rounded appearance drops dramatically down to the ocean. An old British observation post, built during World War I to prevent the Germans from landing arms for the Irish Republican Army, is still standing on Moytoge. During the Second World War this post was rebuilt by the Irish Defence Forces as a Look out Post for the Coast Watching Service wing of the Defence Forces. It operated from 1939 to 1945.

The Atlantic Drive along the south/west of the island has some dramatically beautiful views and again is a must see on your list of things to do here on Achill.

The mountain Slievemore dominates the island and stands at 672m above sea level, and on a clear sunny day makes for a great hike as the view from the top is breathtaking.

On the slopes of Slievemore, there is an abandoned village, known locally as the “Deserted Village” and is traditionally thought to be a remnant village from An Gorta Mór, otherwise known as The Great Hunger of 1845-1849.

Just west of the deserted village is an old Martello tower, again built by the British to warn of any possible French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. The area also boasts an approximately 5000-year old Neolithic tomb which is easily reached by foot from the Pure Magic lodge, as is the deserted village. Achillbeg (Acaill Beag, Little Achill) is a small island just off Achill’s southern tip. Its inhabitants were resettled on Achill in the 1960’s.

There are several little villages on Achill, such as Dooniver and Askill that boast picturesque scenery, most of which can be reached via bicycle which is popular; though perhaps when it is not so windy!