For me, climbing Mweelrea would mark my successful summit of the highest peaks in all four provinces of Ireland. Not exactly an amazing achievement by any standard but as an Irish hill walker it was something I wanted to tick off the list. On my Himalayan trip last year I met a lady called Elaine from County Mayo, the county where Mweelrea is. We agreed that we would organise a weekend to meet in Mayo and climb Mweelrea. I travelled over to Mayo with my wife Fionnuala on the day before the hike and stayed in a hotel in the small village of Louisburg, about 20 minutes from the mountain. There we met Elaine and her husband Dan who were staying in the same hotel. We had a quick drink and planned the arrangements for the next day.

When we awoke shortly after 7 the next morning the weather outside was absolutely horrendous. Gale force wind and heavy rain was beating against the windows of the hotel. At that stage the hike appeared to be in question. I was, however, still confident that there was a window of calm weather coming in the next few hours, so we got ready to go anyway and went to a small cafe where we had a full Irish breakfast each; the perfect breakfast before a good hike. Thankfully by the time we had finished breakfast the forecasted weather window had arrived so we set off for the mountain.

We had decided to climb Mweelrea from the west as this appeared to be the most direct route to the summit. It began with a short lane with some space at the bottom to park the car. At the top of the lane we passed through a gate into open grassland. Due to the huge volume of rain the day before and throughout the night the ground was absolutely saturated. This was the case for almost the entire route but thankfully we had all come prepared with waterproof boots and gaiters. There is no beaten track or recognisable path along the route. Instead we made our way across the open boggy ground until we reached a river which we then followed. There were some beautiful views on the way up looking west toward the Atlantic. The ascent was gradual to begin with then became steeper as we approached the ridge. Once on the ridge we turned right and followed this all the way to the summit. The ground in places was very slippy due to mud. We were just beginning to get into the cloud at this point so at times we were able to see the view from the summit and the very dangerous drops to the south east. We enjoyed a few minutes on the summit to snap some photos. The wind was light so conditions were not unpleasant.

Looking west toward the Atlantic.
My wife and I with Elaine and Dan.
The summit ridge.
Looking south east from the summit ridge.
 The route down was just a reverse of the route up aside from the fact that we followed the river on the opposite side. The ground was a little more firm on this side. My wife did however fall victim to the slippy conditions and took a tumble. Thankfully she was uninjured although completely covered in mud so it proved to be quite humorous. The weather began to improve more and we started to get some sunshine just as we were on the lower slopes of the mountain. Upon reaching the car everyone was glad to get their heavy walking boots off.
My wife and I on the summit.
The route.
 Elaine’s parents live a couple of hours north of Mweelrea. This is where we would be spending the night. There we enjoyed some fantastic food and hospitality. A hot shower was a welcome treat after the days hike. The next morning we enjoyed another full Irish breakfast before starting on our long journey north east back to Belfast.
Check out my tips and safety information for the hills here