Mayo win top spot in 2017 Pride of Place Awards

Mayo takes top spot in villages less than 300 people category

Attymass in County Mayo have just won the 2017 IPB Pride of Place Award in association with Co-operation Ireland. The Parish won the National Award for Category 1 which is at a villages with a population of less than 300. The prestigious competition acknowledge the achievements and the invaluable work undertaken by volunteers and those involved in local community development.

In their remarks at the final the judges said:

“This amazing small rural community immediately impressed the judges with a fantastic welcome in a wonderful centre that is essential to the life of the community. The judges regarded the presentation on the day as one of the best they had ever witnessed. The sense of pride demonstrated in every aspect of community life - history, heritage, culture, international connections, excellent high quality amenities emanating from the extraordinary efforts of the community left the judges very clear that this community had indeed Pride in their Place.”

Attymass in North Mayo is situated just 7 miles outside of Ballina and was nominated by Mayo County Council to represent the County in the prestigious national competition. The parish is a rural parish nestled between the majestic Ox Mountains and the world famous Salmon Laden River Moy it is an unique hidden gem and is home to the internationally famous Fr Peyton Centre as well as a number of historic sites dating back to 600BC.

Tony Hennigan from Mayo Manchester commented "It great to see the Parish win this prestigious award in recognition of all the hard work that each and every member of the community at home and abroad put into their home town. I was lucky enough to have been invited to the presentation to the judges during the summer. It was no surprise to me that they beat off competition from all over Ireland to walk away with the award. The whole of the Parish had spent countless hours in preparing for the event and the parish glistened in the summer sunshine. We have been working with the Parish since 2012 to develop its Tourism strategy by helping it organise an annual festival to celebrate its unique landscape and its award winning musicians singers and dancers as part of the annual Mayo Manchester Tradfest which takes place every year at the beginning of August. It is great to see it winning the award which I am sure will put it firmly on the tourism map."

Attymass Parish in North Mayo is a small rural Parish just 7 miles outside of Ballina in North Mayo close to the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast of Ireland. The Parish is nestled between the salmon laden River Moy and the majestic Ox Mountains, it is also overlooked by Nephin and is home to an abundance of lakes and rivers which is why it is known as the 'Kilarney of the West'.

Here are the top ten things for a visitor to explore on their visit to Attymass:

1. Take a Spiritual Retreat
The area is home to a number of spiritual venues including the internationally famous 'Fr Peyton Centre'. The world famous 'Fr Patrick Peyton' was born in Attymass. He was known throughout the world as 'The Rosary Priest' who coined the famous saying "The Family that prays together, stays together". Fr Peyton preached to millions in the USA and the center is his lasting legacy, visitors can enjoy a free illustrated multi media talk about his life, or visit the shop and restaurant. Next door to the Fr Peyton Centre is St Joseph's Parish Church which was built in 1835, make sure you go inside to enjoy a quiet prayer and a look at its fantastic giant stain glass windows were are dedicated to different families in the parish. Just outside the church is Our Lady's Grotto, St Feichins Well is also in the parish about 2 miles from the church (ask at the Fr Peyton Centre for directions), St Patrick is believed to have crossed the River Moy below Bonnifinglas graveyard and a plaque in the cemetery marks the spot and explains the history around it.

2. Fish in the River Moy
The Salmon laden River Moy which is known as the best river in Europe to catch Wild Salmon flows through the parish, local licences are available in Carrowkerribla on the Church Road. There is also good fishing to be had in the four large lakes in the parish.

3. Listen to a Trad Concert and Seisiun with Bofield Ceili Band
During the summer months in July and August the award winning Bofield Ceili Band stage a night of Irish Music, Song, Dance and Story telling in the Fr Peyton Centre. The evening begins with a formal concert by the musicians and dancers in the band, which after a break for some lovely home cooked scones and tea is followed by an open Seisiun where the audience is invited to get up and perform. Do not be surprised to see visitors from all over the world at this very popular night of entertainment.

4. Go for a Looped Walk
There is a newly opened looped walk in the parish which guides visitors around its lush landscape with some fantastic views over Ballymore Lake, maps of the walk are available from the Father Peyton Centre. For more experience walkers 'The Foxford Way' which goes along the Ox Mountains passes through the parish, but make sure you come well prepared for this walk which is only suitable for experienced walkers with the correct equipment and maps.

5. Enjoy a Fun Run/Cycle/Swim or Canoe
The quiet roads around the parish which vary in gradient are ideal for novice runners or more experienced athletes, watch out for the annual fun run during the Attymass Gathering. Cyclists are welcome in the parish, just make sure you have your hi-viability vest or coat and helmet on, lights should be on as well especially in the early evening. With an abundance of Lakes in the village its an ideal spot to canoe or swim.

6. Meet new friends in the Parish Community Centre
The newly refurbished and extended Attymass Community Centre is a hive of activities from Mother and Toddler sessions to Karate classes and everything in between. Do not miss the Annual Attymass Gathering Concert which is held in the centre and features performers from the parish and Mayo Manchester.

7. Treat yourself to an Afternoon Tea
Do you love home cooked food?, then book an Afternoon Tea at the Fr Peyton Centre which is open Monday to Friday and Sunday afternoon, or just pop in for a cup of Tea and see if you can resist their Apple Pie and Ice Cream.

8. Have a cold pint of Guinness in An Sionnancah Rua (The Red Fox) Public House
Fancy a cold pint of Guinness in a cosy Country Pub with a roaring turf fire and a warm Irish welcome for visitors? then pop into
An Sionnach Rua and get a pint of the black stuff poured the slow way by Gerry. Don't worry if you do not like Guinness, other drinks are available. The traditional Irish pub has the best wi-fi signal in Mayo so if you need to catch up with your friends on facebook this is another good reason to visit, but make sure you don't spend too long on the phone, put it away and have a chat to the locals. The venue has its own pool table and sponsors the Fianna Phadraig Pipe Band who have it as their base for the Mayo Manchester Tradfest, watch out for their late night music sessions - they are legendary.

9. Look up at the stars
On a clear night, it is well worth wrapping up and staying up light to sit out and gaze at the Night Sky of this unpolluted area, the stars are fantastic and countless, there is no need for a telescope here, the stars are that close you feel you could almost touch them.

10. Explore the Wild Life and Heritage
The unspoiled landscape is home to a whole variety of birds and animals, just walk along its lanes or enjoy a canoe or boat ride along one of its tree surrounded lakes early in the morning or at sunset to enjoy it at its best. Watch out for Sue the talking Donkey, but don't worry she just likes to say hello. The area is home to a vast amount of historical sites and artifacts dating back to 500 BC. From the 13th Century Kildermot Abbey to Celtic Wedge Graves and a 14 foot Ogham Stones along with its own famine graveyard, Lime Kilns and a unique Giant Rocking Stone Boulder, the area is a heritage gem. Make sure you visit Bonnifinglas award winning graveyard which is also the place where St Patrick crossed the River Moy on what is known locally as St Patrick's stepping stones. The Parish was put on the world's tourism map when one of its original famine houses was taken down and rebuilt as the centre piece of the International Hunger Memorial in New York's Battery Park. A stone from Hudson Bay was brought back to Attymass and mounted in Carrowdoogan to mark the site of the original house. To find out more about the history of Attymass read the book 'History of Attymass' by Bridie Padden which is available in Ballina Library.

Sponsored by IPB Insurance, the Pride of Place competition was initiated 15 years ago through a Co-operation Ireland programme to acknowledge the invaluable work undertaken by communities and groups across the island of Ireland. It has grown into the largest competition recognising community development achievements.

The winners were presented with their awards by Minister Joe McHugh TD, Government Chief Whip & Minister of State for Gaeilge, An Ghaeltacht and the Islands, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Gerry McMonagle, Dr Christopher Moran, Chairman Co-operation Ireland, Michael McGreal, Vice Chair IPB Insurance and Tom Dowling, Chairperson, Pride of Place Committee.

For further information about the Parish and the event visit