By Liz Linehan
Last Updated: 12:57PM BST 28 May 2009
The air is mild, the rain soft, and the pubs and the people as warm and welcoming as you will find anywhere in the world – and they have an unrivalled capacity for the “craic”. A short break in County Mayo is a perfect antidote to the draining stresses of urban life.
During the Great Famine, more people emigrated from Mayo, in the far west of Ireland, than from any other county. On a stormy day, of which there are plenty, this sobering historical fact is understandable. It is the most desolate of landscapes, with mile after mile of boggy, tussocky ground, mis-shapen hills, and meandering coastline. But, when the weather fronts that power in from the Atlantic take pause and the sun struggles through, the county is transformed.
Mayo is still wild but dramatically beautiful, too. You’ll be enchanted by its myriad rainbows, deserted beaches, white-capped seascape, isolated farms, empty roads, tiny harbours and pitch-black loughs.
Plane. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies from London Luton, Liverpool, East Midlands and Bristol to Ireland West Airport Knock from £80. Hire cars are available from http://www.novacarhire.com
The four-star Mount Falcon Country House Hotel and Spa in Ballina (00353 96 74472, http://www.mountfalcon.com), and enjoy baronial chic in a romantic setting on the River Moy. The house was commissioned in 1872 by Utred Knox for his new bride, Nina Knox-Gore, a woman so “special that she deserved to live in a castle”. From the Thirties onwards, it developed a reputation as one of the best shooting and fishing lodges in Ireland, and was a favourite venue of celebrities including Vivien Leigh and Peter Sellers. Recently refurbished, it is attracting new fans such as Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo. Two nights’ accommodation in a superior room with full Irish breakfast, and with one table d’hôte evening meal, costs from 159 euros per person sharing. For B & Bs, hostels, guesthouses, and more hotels, see http://www.mayo-bnb.com
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