Around forty miles north of Castlebar, and five miles outside of Ballycastle, is the most extensive Stone Age archaeological site in the world. For thousands of years, Céide Fields hid a complex arrangement of houses, megalithic tombs and field boundary markers built and arranged from about half a million tonnes of stone. The ancient settlement was thought to be founded sometime around 3000 BC and was re-discovered by a local man gathering peat for fuel, in the 1930s. Forty years later, his son, who had studied archaeology, investigated further and the truly remarkable find was uncovered. There is now a visitor centre on site that provides guided tours.
Just ten miles from Castlebar, in the town of Westport, is the eighteenth century Westport House. The home was built by the Browne Family on the remains of Grace O'Malley's sixteenth century castle, overlooking Clew Bay, Achill island and Croagh Patrick. Being direct descendants of the Pirate Queen, the Brownes have built a Pirate Adventure Park to celebrate Grace O'Malley's time as head of the clan and ruler of the seas. The Adventure Park includes a Pirates Plunge Flume Ride, swinging Pirate Ship, indoor play area for younger children and many more rides and attractions.
Due to the popularity of the Knock Marian Shrine after the vision seen by so many in 1879, the village of Knock – just twenty miles outside of Castlebar – is also home to the Knock Museum, right across from the Basilica itself. The museum tells the story of the witnesses who first saw the apparition, the miracles and cure of hundreds of crippled pilgrims that followed, the investigations by the Catholic Church, right up to the centennial visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 that established the shrine as a basilica.
Belleek Castle Museum:
Belleek Castle is found near Ballina, about thirty miles north of Castlebar, and a well-known destination for restaurant dining and accommodation. However, it also houses the Marshall Doran Collection, a unique exhibition of fossils, antiques, and medieval arms and armour displayed amongst the opulent surroundings of the castle's dining rooms, staterooms and Banquet Hall. The history of the castle and its compelling story are also explored on the tour. The castle also nestles in two hundred acres of beautiful woods, right near the River Moy which is world famous for its salmon fishing.
Just outside of Cong village, on the Galway/Mayo border about 25 miles from Castlebar, the woods that mark the boundary of Ashford Castle's lands begin. First built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman Burke family, the castle was eventually besieged and captured by Sir Richard Bingham in 1589. Sir Richard added further fortifications. Changing hands many more times over the centuries, including owners such as the Brownes and the Guinnesses, the castle is now a popular hotel and restaurant, though much of the building has been restored to its former glory. The grounds – 140 acres of woodlands, streams and golf course – is also open to the public.