A colourful rural coastal area, Belderrig sits close to the Atlantic Ocean along the route from Ballycastle to Belmullet. The cliffs here, known as the Belderrig Cliffs are spectacular and the scenery makes it a special spot.
From here, views as far as Porturlin and Portacloy to the North West and the Stags of Broadhaven are more evidence of the carving force of the wild Atlantic waves, where a group of five rocky islands lie a hundred meters above sea level. Sligo’s coastline and the cliffs in Donegal can be seen on a clear day.
Belderrig has seems barely touched by the modern world. Here, in the sparsely populated means that traffic congestion is mainly related to flocks of sheep taking to the roadside to forage and the night-time is still and very dark without town lights. Nature lovers will relish the relaxing strolls to the bay and watching the waves crash against the cliffs. Shore or rock fishing is an option for the hardy who are not worried about getting wet.
For archaeologists, Belderrig offers a rich history dating back 100 million years. Stone-Age farmers lived in Belderrig and plough marks from that time were discovered here beneath the bog in the 1930s, by local schoolmaster, Patrick Caulfield, while cutting turf in the bog. His son, archaeologist, Professor Seamus Caulfield, discovered remnants of crops, houses and tombs, and the whole story is captured in the interpretative centre at ‘Céide Fields’. This unique landscape lay hidden for many centuries. Belderrig’s landscape was celebrated by Seamus Heaney in a poem, entitled ‘Belderg’, which was enclosed with a letter of appreciation for Patrick Caulfield after the poet visited his house in 1974:
When he stripped off blanket bog
The soft-piles centuries
Fell open like a glib:
There were the first plough-marks,
The stone age fields, the tomb
Corbelled, turfed and chambered,
Floored with dry turf-coomb.
A landscape fossilized,
Its stone wall patterings
Repeated before our eyes
In the stone walls of Mayo
Before I turn to go
Looking out over the cliffs at the crashing surf and the unspoiled land, you could, in your mind’s eye almost imagine the ancient farmers tending to their animals and crops and cooking in Fulacht Fiadhs, or fire pits some 5,000 years ago. The same sounds of ocean beating against the rocks and animals grazing nearby might have taken their attention just as it will yours in this remote and beautiful part of North Mayo.