Mayo is a largely rural county located on the western coast of Ireland. Its coastline is indented with cliffs and peaks while inland County Mayo is set with blanket bogs and two great lakes Lough Conn and Lough Mask.
The southern borders of Co. Mayo run into the spectacular Connemara countryside of Co. Galway, with some spectacular scenery of its own, particularly around Lough Mask, the Doolough Valley and Killary Harbour.
Also close to Galway is arguably Ireland's most famous village, Cong, where the 1950s film, The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne, was set. Mayo's county town is Castlebar, just west of which is the picturesque town of Westport. Situated on the banks of clew Bay, Westport is overlooked by the towering peak of Croagh Patrick 765m high. According to legend St Patrick banished all the snakes form Ireland from the top of this mountain and on the last Sunday of July, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick.
Another important pilgrimage in County Mayo is to Knock, where, in 1879, villagers witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Each year the Marian Shrine at Knock receives some one and a half million visitors and in 1979 was visited by the late Pope John Paul II.
In the north of Mayo, the county is sparsely populated and punctuated by blanket bog. While off the western coast on the fringes of Clew Bay is Achill Island, Ireland's largest isle, connected to the mainland by a bridge and Clare Island, once the stronghold of one of Ireland's most illustrious women, the Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley.
Along with Grace O'Malley or Granuaile, other famous names from Mayo include Michael Davitt, founder of the Land League, gaining rights for tenant farmers in Ireland.