The attractive town of Louisburgh, or Kilgeever as it used to be known, is built on the Bunowen River, in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. Constructed in 1795 by the 3rd Earl of Altamount (later 1st Marquess of Sligo), John Denis Browne of Westport, to house Catholic refugees escaping sectarian conflict in the north of Ireland. Browne named the town in memory of his Uncle - Captain Henry Browne - who fought in the 1758 battle of Louisburg, on the British side against the French. Louisburg was a French named fortress on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Louisburgh is a beautiful small town and retains many 18th century features in style and scale. Louisburgh has lots of character and the surrounding townlands are packed full of history and charm. It is an area of immense natural beauty with Croagh Patrick to the east, the Atlantic to the west, the Sheaffrey and Mweelrea Mountains to the south and Clew Bay to the north.
Located as it is on the Atlantic coast, Louisburgh is famous for its wide range of unspoilt beaches, famed for their clean bathing waters and untainted sandy coves. Beaches in the Louisburgh area include Carramore, Old Head and Bertra, while beaches in nearby Killadoon have been rated as the best in Europe, i.e. Tallabawn (Silver Strand) and Dooaghtry.
Every year, on the May Bank Holiday Weekend, the town hosts a traditional music festival - Louisburgh Feile Chois Cuain - attracting a large number of music enthusiasts from many parts of Ireland and abroad. Deireadh seachtaine ceoil, amhránaiochta agus spleodar.
The town of Westport is approx 14 miles north of Louisburgh while Leenane is approx 20 miles to the south of Louisburgh. Nearby Roonagh Pier, approx 6 km from the town, is the departure point for ferries to Clare Island and Inishturk. Other beautiful scenic drives include going south to Connemara via Doolough and Leenane, north to Achill via Westport and Newport, or to Ballycastle and the Ceide Fields via Castlebar and Pontoon, or east to Tourmakeady and Lough Nafooey via Westport/Tourmakeady and Leenane.
Louisburgh is the central point of a land mass of approx 450 square miles in expanse, stretching from Killary Fjord in the south, to the Owenree River in the north, and from the coast to the Erriff valley watershed in the east. This landscape is designated, in the Mayo County Development Plan, as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and calls have been made for its designation as a 'Special Amenity Area'.
Open blanket bog drapes this magnificent mountainous landscape hemmed by the Atlantic coast and Clare Island. Enjoy a summer afternoon climb on Mweelrea (Connaught's highest mountain) to ascend to the panorama of the Twelve Bens to the south, the Sheefry Mountains to the east and Croagh Patrick to the north. A short drive from Louisburgh is the famous Killary Fjord, a 9 mile long inlet which boasts some of the finest scenery in the west of Ireland.
If your passion is walking, climbing or just generally 'rambling', then Louisburgh is the perfect destination for you! There are numerous very interesting walks to discover in and around Louisburgh, with magnificent scenery thrown in for good measure.
Croagh Patrick is almost on your doorstep when you visit Louisburgh, and several hundred people climb it daily during the summer months. On the last Sunday in July ("Reek Sunday") upwards of 25,000 pilgrims make the ascent. Croagh Patrick is very often shrouded in mist, making it a dangerous climb, and should only be attempted on clear days. In the interests of safety, climbers should stay together and arrange that someone is aware of their whereabouts and expected time of arrival back. A rewarding panoramic view of Clew Bay dotted with its 365 islands makes the experience worthwhile after such a strenuous climb!
Louisburgh has a rich archaeological heritage with over 700 known archaeological monuments, and 20 areas of scientific interest. There are court-tombs at Furmoyle and Aillemore, a megalithic wedge-tomb at Srahwee, abbeys at Kilgeever and Murrisk, a clapperbridge (stone bridge with 37 arches) at Killeen, and numerous other monuments, especially around Killadoon.
The fisherman will be spoilt for choice in Louisburgh with an excellent opportunity for shore fishing stretching from Clew Bay to Killary Harbour. Deep sea angling trips can also be arranged locally for individuals or groups.