An Epic Island Retreat in County Mayo, Ireland

Watching the sun set over the Atlantic ocean with my hubby and the strong scent of a working farm was a dream come true after a pretty crappy start to the weekend. I’m a strong believer in “everything happens for a reason” and we were so lucky to be hosted by Belmullet glamping site last weekend after a very last-minute trip cancellation to Morocco. Grab a cuppa and read on to learn more about our (almost) private island retreat in beautiful County Mayo (and in my humble opinion the most underrated county in all of Ireland!). Enjoy!

Why County Mayo and Claggan Island? 

First, the backstory..

In short, about 2 hours before my flight to Morocco last week the whole trip was canceled. I’ll get into that more in a different post, but to put it plainly I was absolutely devastated. After planning for months for this trip (and buying basically a whole new wardrobe) I had to quickly come to terms with the fact that not only was I not going to Morocco, but my entire week-long vacation (in the sun!) was called off. 

Here’s where determination and a lot of luck pays off

I was determined not to let all of my vacation days go to waste so I finally got up the guts to write a glamping site I had been eyeing for months on end in County Mayo to see if they had any availability for the weekend. Lo and behold – Irish charm won yet again and not only was there availability, but they were willing to host us on a blogger trip! I cried a few tears of joy, quickly packed our bags with much warmer clothes than my bag full of Moroccan clothes, booked a car, dropped the pup for a puppy sleepover, and we were off! 

So… why Claggan Island and County Mayo?

I’ll be honest with you.. almost all of our trips are planned via Instagram. So, when I came across this Instagram photo a few months ago I KNEW we had to make our way to County Mayo.

We are proud to present the PHOTO OF THE DAY by: ☘ @brubio1111 🍀 Congratulations!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Location: 📌  Downpatrick Head, Co. Mayo ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Please show your support to our featured artist and visit their awesome gallery for more great shots!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Photo selected by: @milly_kelleher ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank You all so much for following @loves_ireland and tagging #loves_ireland. Your support is highly appreciated!! ~ Admins Profile: @loves_ireland team Founder @siachori C.C.: @coogs72 @digilou48 @glarch ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #ireland #inspireland_ #insta_ireland #instaireland #icu_ireland #ireland_gram #thisisireland #discoverireland #visitireland #igersireland #ig_ireland #loveireland #eire #tourismireland #wanderireland #pocketireland #irishpassion #irish #wildatlanticway #irishcoast #mayo

A post shared by @loves_ireland on Dec 14, 2016 at 3:20am PST

Since we love glamping, we started the search and fell in love with the working farm/glamping site/and coastguard station on Claggan Island. Perfectly located in northwest Mayo, Claggan Island is a great spot to explore the rest of this beautiful county from Achill Island (blog post on this gem coming soon!) to Downpatrick Head and everything in between. 

How was glamping on our (almost) private island?

……………………………………………………………………………………… (Blog silence)

That’s my way of saying no words can describe how awesome this experience was. I’ll try my best by giving my top 5 favorite things about Claggan Island and the Belmullet Glamping Site. 

1. The spacious and comfortable pods

I’ve stayed in some other glamping sites before (see glamping in Scotland and West Cork), but these pods were the best we have come across! With an amazingly comfy bed, our own private toilet, a table to do some work (although I ended up blogging in bed), a comfy couch to read a few pages on (where I subsequently fell asleep), tons of light from the multiple windows, and one of the best heaters I have seen in Ireland you can’t get much better than this in the glamping world. 

2. The epic views

You know those places you see on Pinterest/AirBnB and other photography centric sites where the accommodation has an unbelievable view and you think to yourself “Man, I wish I could afford a place like that!”? No? Just me? Oh… well I’m still going to tell you about how you can experience that for less! For a small price per night (less than 100 euro/night!) you can enjoy one of those unbelievable views from the comfort of your pod’s picnic table, the couch, on a walk around the property, or really anywhere on this gorgeous sliver of paradise. 

3. Life on a working farm

I grew up in a REALLY small town. That faint sweet smell of old manure wafting through the air brings back a ton of memories from my childhood. While exploring Claggan Island we were greeted every once in a while not only by that smell, but also by chickens, adult cows, AND the most adorable baby cows I have ever seen. In fact, just 30 minutes before arriving Laurence, the owner of the farm, helped deliver a calf! If only we could have seen that.. maybe next time!

4. Farm fresh eggs and breakfast tea

Have you ever had farm fresh eggs? If you haven’t, put it on your bucket list! They will be the best tasting eggs you have ever has the pleasure of eating, I promise! As part of your stay on Claggan Island you have full access to a little house with a full kitchen, table, and a fire place. On our second morning we walked over to the house make some tea and were greeted with farm fresh eggs! We quickly whipped out the fying pan to make eggs and toast and chowed down on one of the best breakfasts we’ve had in a long time. I guess you could say we’re a pretty easy pair to please. 

5. Our (almost) own private island!

I never thought I’d be able to stay on a private island, but luck would have it that our stay on Claggan Island felt like our own private island retreat! Since there are only two pods you will feel as if you have the entire island to yourself. The amazing Howard family also live on the island and are some of the kindest people we have ever met. Upon arrival Laurence and his adorable son (he has 3 kids under the age of 5!) showed us around and told us the history of the farm, the island, and the glamping site. My favorite part of chatting with him was learning about how much he truly loved Ireland, Mayo, and his farm. The joy he exuded was contagious and left us in a great mood for the rest of the weekend. The Irish really are the nicest people in the world. 


Getting here

Pro Tip: When you’re renting your car get full coverage insurance. Ireland is not an easy country to drive in and while expensive, you’ll be so thankful that you have it. 

Claggan Island is about a 4 hour drive (without stops!) from Dublin. It ended up taking us most of the day since we stopped for lunch, swung by Downpatrick Head, and stopped at other various spots along the way (the drive was gorgeous!). Laurence will give you directions on how to get to the island before arriving. You will have to drive over some sand dunes (don’t worry there are tracks), but highly highly suggest if you are renting a car to make sure you have full coverage insurance so they don’t ding you for any sand/damage/etc. to the undercarriage of the car. You can also park your car on the other side of the island and then trek for about 30 minutes over to the island across the dunes if you would rather. 

What to bring

Bring everything you would normally to an accommodation with two quick caveats:

  1. While there is a toilet and small sink in your pod, the shower is located in the little house with the kitchen. There are two showers (both of which are nice and warm!), but if you are a germaphobe like myself it’s suggested to bring shower shoes. I ended up showering without them since the shower was really clean. Also, be sure to bring your own shower towel! 
  2. There aren’t a lot of food options around the area. Plus, if you want to relax you’ll probably want to just enjoy watching the sunset and cozying up in your pod. Bring some snacks and food to cook in the kitchen. We made grilled cheese and soup for dinner one night and it was so nice to sip on a beer while eating our sandwiches and enjoying the sunset. 

Hopefully by this point we’ve convinced you that a glamping stay on Claggan Island is the perfect island retreat in Ireland! More to come later on what to do nearby the island to further convince you. Stay tuned and…

Happy Trekking!

– Boots not Roots

Huge thanks to the Howard Family to allow us to experience life on Claggan Island and Belmullet Coast Guard Station. As always, all of our opinions and subsequent gushing are our own. 

Oregon Girl Around the World