Owenwee Bog Walk in Co. Mayo

This 10.5 km long circular walk is a good half days walking through the upper Owenwee Valley. On your way through the valley you will discover the blanket bog habitat and its biodiversity.

From Westport take the N59 and turn right at the Owenwee sign. Continue past the start for Brackloon walk on the right and turn left almost immediately and follow for about 1.5 km. At a T-junction keep left and park near a bridge.

The bridge over the Owenwee River is the starting point of this walk. Don’t cross the river, take the right path and continue for about 5km. Now your way winds through the valley and you will have spectacular views of Croagh Patrick. This area is called Boleybrian.

Then you enter an area of commercial woodland and go through a gate on the left. Turn left to a T-junction following the path through the other side of the valley. This land is called Barraglanna meaning the Head of the Glen. Now the way leads you through the Owenwee Bog which is still being cut by local for fuel.

Follow the main road and watch out for skylark and golden plover. In the bog you can see heathersundewbog cotton, moss and yellow flag.

At a T-junction turn left, cross the Owenwee River and you are back to the starting point.

DID YOU KNOW?

Owenwee in Irish Abhainn Bhui means the Yellow River. It is supposed that the yellow colour refers to the presence of gold in this area.

Owenwee Bog is a blanket bog. It is so called because it extends over large areas of land covering the landscape like a blanket. A bog is a layer (2 or 3 metres) of decomposing vegetation. Being waterlogged in the past, the vegetation rotted slowly and formed a layer of peat, in Ireland also called turf.

People use the turf as fuel. The turf was traditionally cut with a narrow spade, called ‘slane’, by a team of workers. The sod was cut and tossed to a spreader who loaded the sods on a barrow wheeling them to an area where they could be stacked into clamps to dry. Later the dried turf was brought home by cart or donkey and creel. Nowadays the sods are machine cut and laid out to dry on the ground in strips.

The sods into the bog and the stacks of turf make up a very distinctive landscape, while the light and the smell of turf fires glowing in the living-room inside a cottage or a pub give holidaymakers a warm unforgettable glow.

Boleybrian in Irish Buaile Brian means Brian’s Booley. At summertime cattle and sheep were and are sent for grazing in an area called booley.

In the past farmers or their children used to build shelters in order to keep themselves out of the rain looking after the stock.

In Owenwee Bog archaeologists discovered ancient fields smaller than the famous Ceide Fields in north Mayo predating the bog. Also a 150 metres long low wall was found.