SOLAS: Stories shaped by the Atlantic – Official Opening of new Tourism Hub and Visitor Experience in Eachléim, Co. Mayo

1 May, 2024

min read

Ministers Heather Humphreys, Dara Calleary and Alan Dillon along with T.D. Michael Ring at the official opening of the SOLAS tourist hub in Mayo

An exciting new tourism hub and visitor experience was officially opened today by Minister Heather Humphreys in the Gaeltacht region of Eachléim, at the foot of the Mullet Peninsula in Northwest Mayo.  At SOLAS visitors will learn about the Mullet Peninsula and its offshore islands and hear stories of what it was like to live in a small coastal community on the edge of the Atlantic.  Visitors will be able to delve into the history and culture of the area across three themed galleries.  They will hear stories of the diaspora who moved away, but always kept Blacksod Bay in their hearts.   They will learn about life on Inishgé islands and how the islanders were resettled on the mainland after a fearsome storm took the lives of twelve of their fishermen.  They will discover what it was like to live on a lighthouse and then, as part of their visit, they will be able to visit an actual lighthouse, Blacksod Lighthouse which is a member of Great Lighthouse’s of Ireland (GLI Network).  Visitors will experience the ferociousness of the Atlantic ocean and learn about fishing and shipwrecks and the pirates that plied their trade on the wild Atlantic coast.  They will also learn about the rich and rare biodiversity on the Mullet Peninsula and the surrounding seas, and how the area is now a unique gem on the island of Ireland for bird life, sea life, flora and fauna. 

Tomás Ó Síocháin, Príomhfheidhmeannach Údarás na Gaeltachta said “It’s a testament to the community that we have such a facility here and I’d like to thank all our partners in helping deliver this project.”

SOLAS will offer a range of services for visitors including a Gaeltacht Showcase where visitors can view local makers at work and browse and buy products from the local Gaeltacht region as well as Gaeltacht regions further afield.  The Hub will also provide a tourism information service for visitors and will offer café facilities with indoor and outdoor seating. 

SOLAS was conceived by the local community who wanted to celebrate and interpret the history and culture of Blacksod and the Mullet Peninsula, and Údarás na Gaeltachta worked hand in hand with Comharchumann Deirbhile to develop the concept and funding applications for this project.  Managed by Comharchumann Forbartha Ionad Derbhile, SOLAS will be a strategic tourism facility on the Wild Atlantic way, in the heart of the North Mayo Gaeltacht.  It will be the main tourism hub on the Erris Peninsula, where visitors will find all information about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.  SOLAS has a total budget of €4 million with funding of €2.47m approved under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, €0.5m from the Gaeltacht Department and €1 m from Údarás na Gaeltachta. Blacksod Lighthouse also received support from the Commissioners of Irish Light and Mayo Co. Council.  SOLAS was recently awarded a community services programme by Pobal to recruit a manager and three staff and the overall project is also receiving support for marketing from Mayo North East LEADER and Fáilte Ireland.