County of the Republic of Ireland, in the province of Connacht; county town Castlebar; area 5,400 sq km/2,084 sq mi; population (2002) 117,450. Its wild Atlantic coastline is about 400 km/249 mi long. The principal towns are Ballina, Ballinrobe, and Westport, and the principal rivers are the Moy, the Robe, and the Owenmore. Loughs Conn and Mask lie within the county. Agriculture includes pig, sheep, and cattle farming, and salmon fishing (particularly in the River Moy). The soil of the central plain is fertile, and crops include potatoes and oats. An excellent marble is found in the northwest district.
Two of Ireland's national places of pilgrimage are situated in County Mayo: Croagh Patrick (765 m/2,510 ft), where St Patrick spent the 40 days of Lent in AD 441; and Knock, the site of alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary. There are several ecclesiastical remains and early fortifications. The county has a number of important archaeological sites, the most significant of which is Céide Fields, an extensive Neolithic site with evidence of field systems and dwellings, 10 sq km/4 sq mi in extent.
Topography The coastline of Mayo is much indented with bays, the chief of which are Killala Bay, Clew Bay, Westport Bay, Newport Bay, Achill Sound, and Blacksod Bay. Achill Island lies just off the coast. The interior is very flat, forming the western part of the large plain that runs across central Ireland. In the west of the county are two ranges of mountains, separated from each other at the coast by Clew Bay. The highest point in the two southern ranges (the Partry Mountains and the Mweelrea Mountains) is Mount Mweelrea (817 m/2,680 ft), and in the northern range, the Nephin Beg Mountains, Mount Nephin (807 m/2,648 ft).
Antiquities Four round towers survive. At Cong there are also remains of a splendid 12th-century abbey, founded in 1128 for the Augustinians by Turlough O'Connor, King of Ireland. The ‘Cross of Cong’, a beautifully decorated Celtic crucifix, is now in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.
History of Magh Eó (Mayo Abbey) in County Mayo in the West of Ireland
Mayo on the Move
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