The Mweelrea (pronounced 'MEEL-ray') mountain group is located in southern Mayo. It consists of five peaks at least 790m with 40-800 metres of prominence, and contains the highest point in County Mayo and the Connaught Province. The region has a few mountain groups, and the views from the summit of the Mweelreas are splendid. Hills and mountains look to be randomly strewn about, poking up hundreds of metres from a flat plain in some areas, and making for some striking landscapes. The views from the tops here afford the Atlantic Ocean, the Ben Gorms, Twelve Bens, Maumturks and Sheeffry Hills. The peaks of the Mweelreas are (altitude, prominence)
Ben Lugmore East Top (790m, 30m)
Ben Lugmore (803m, 155m)
Ben Lugmore West Top (790m, 40m)
Ben Bury (795m, 60m)
Mweelrea (814m, 800m)
Although tourists swarm the area in the summer, the hiking areas allow a complete feeling of isolation and have no trails, and allow one to believe they have the whole range to themselves. In fact, I was out on the longest day of sunshine of the year, and only saw one other group all day.
These summits also allow for a reprieve from the heathery and boggy peaks of the south and east. Rocks and grass rule the day here.
Most will approach from Galway. Simply take the N59 north through Oughterard to Maam Cross, then take R336 north to Leenane. Go around the bay using the R335, snake around Killary Harbour, go past Delphi and park at a small lot off of Lough Doo. If the lot is full (>4 cars), there are a few lay-bys up the road.
None. Pack it in, pack it out.
When To Climb
This are can be climbed year-round, but best would be a nice clear summer's day. You will probably encounter clouds at some point, but there are some cliffs that would be easy to walk off of, so foggy weather is not ideal.
Not really necessary, and I'm not sure if it's allowed or not. The Delphi Adventure centre, a couple of miles south of Lough Doo on the R335 has cheap beds if you like to hostel.
This site probably has the best conditions for the Mweelrea mountains.
But, the weather in western Ireland changes constantly. Always pack for wet weather and temperature fluctuations up to 15 centigrade. It's usually windy as well.
Because the Mweelreas are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and other peaks, this is one of the few places in Ireland that does not offer cellular phone coverage. This is even more reason to make sure you have a compass and OSI 37 map (and know how to use them). The clouds can sweep in with little warning and disorient any hiker.