The Blue Flag Tour, Achill Island in Co. Mayo

TOURAS NA TRA

Begin this tour in Keel village and take the road from the shop down to the beach. Keel beach or Trawmore is a 5km Blue Flag beach which ends at the base of the Minaun Cliffs. These cliffs are 466m in height and they are joined by the Cathedral Rocks.

Leaving the beach, return to the main road and turn away from Keel. Take the left turn signposted the Deserted Village and drive for about 2km, arriving at Slievemore graveyard. Park your car here and take a walk to the left of the graveyard to the site of the Deserted Village. This famous attraction is a haunting shell of what was once Achill's largest village. Returning to your car, rejoin the main road, turning left towards Dugort village. Drive through this large village which offers several historical sites and two fabulous Blue Flag beaches, Golden Strand and Dugort beach.

Leaving Dugort behind, you can take the main road to Bunnacurry or you can follow a diversion through the Valley. The Valley has several small lakes and you can also visit the Valley House, once a landlord's house and now a hostel. This was the location for the film 'Love and Rage', shot in 1997 and based on James Carney's book 'The Playboy and the Yellow Lady'.

Take another short diversion through Dooniver to Bullsmouth, from where you can see Inisbiggle island. This small island has a resident population of approximately 80 people.

Back on the main road, drive through the village of Bunnacurry. Arriving at a junction, take the left turn and continue for 1/2km. On the left side of the road you will see a tree lined gateway leading to Bunnacurry Monastery. This Franciscan monastery was built in 1854.

Turn back towards Keel again and follow the main road from Bunnacurry to Keel. You will come first to the villages of River and Dookinella. Dookinella stretches right to the end of the Minaun Cliffs and Keel beach. Continuing along the main road, you will pass Keel Lake to your right side. This lake is regularly used for watersports and some coarse fishing is possible.

Drive through Keel village and on into Pollagh, where you can take a short diversion to Purteen Harbour by turning left at the Achill Head Hotel. Purteen overlooks Keel bay and Inisgaloon, a small uninhabited island. Back on the main road, continue on to Dooagh village, once the largest village in Europe. There are several viewing points along the sea front, and there is a memorial to Don Allum (the first man to row the Atlantic in both directions) at 'The Pub', where he landed in 1987.

Leave Dooagh behind and drive the steep, spectacular route to Keem Bay. This beautiful Blue Flag beach is nestled in the shadow of Croaghaun mountain. Croaghaun is a haven for walkers and the Croaghaun Cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Europe. These are best seen by boat.

Leave Dooagh behind and drive the steep, spectacular route to Keem Bay. This beautiful Blue Flag beach is nestled in the shadow of Croaghaun mountain. Croaghaun is a haven for walkers and the Croaghaun Cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Europe. These are best seen by boat.