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The Mullet Peninsula (Irish: Leithinis an Mhuirthead)—also known as the Mullet (an Mhuirthead) and sometimes as the Erris Peninsula—is a peninsula in the barony of Erris in County Mayo, Ireland. It consists of a large promontory connected to the mainland at Belmullet (Béal an Mhuirthead), a town of about 2,000 inhabitants, by a narrow isthmus. There are several villages on the Mullet peninsula including Aughleam, Elly, Corclough and Binghamstown. It is about 33 km long and 12 km wide at its widest parts, and about 50 metres at the narrowest part. Its northernmost point is Erris Head. The peninsula's doglegged shape forms two bays, Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay.
The Mullet Peninsula is part of the Mayo Gaeltacht, meaning that Irish is the most common language. The area has several Irish-language summer schools. The Mullet is popular with tourists who find miles upon miles of uncluttered white sandy beaches and a mild climate; chief attractions include golf, watersports, kiting, boating and fishing, particularly sea-angling.
The origin of the names Mullet and an Mhuirthead is not clear. They may have come from Irish Muileat or an Mhuileat, which has been translated as "(the) isthmus". Bernard O'Hara in Mayo: Aspects of its Heritage suggests that "A change from 'L' to 'R', which is quite common in Irish" may have resulted in a change to an Mhuireat, which in turn became an Mhuirthead. It has also been suggested that the name may be from English and refer to the fish or the star shape used in heraldry.
Antiquities and places of interest
Despite its apparent sandy 'barrenness', the Mullet Peninsula has much to offer in way of interesting historical artefacts. The parish of Kilcommon which lies to the northeast of the Mullet has more visible prehistoric monuments such as in-situ megalithic tombs.
Several islands lie off the coast of the Mullet peninsula including the Inishkea Islands, Inishglora and Duvillaun. There are lighthouses on other small islands off the coast at Blackrock and Eagle Island.
The Saint Deirbhle heritage centre based at Aughleam near the southern end of the peninsula has a collection of books and historical information on the area. The saint's old church and St. Deirbhile's Well, where it is alleged that a cure for eye problems can be acquired, is a couple of miles from the Centre.
Ocean wave energy test site
In the northwest of the Mullet peninsula a site for testing full-scale ocean wave power devices has been selected between Frenchport Pier, Annagh Head and Cross. This site will be the first time full-scale devices have been tested off the west coast of Ireland. Prototypes have been tank tested in Cork and scaled models have undergone testing near Spiddal in Galway Bay in recent years. The wave energy potential in the Atlantic Ocean between North Mayo and West Donegal is one of the best in the world for the development of this exciting new renewable energy technology. Several device types will be tested off the Mullet Peninsula.
Bus Éireann route 446 links the peninsula with Belmullet, Bangor Erris, Bellacorick, Crossmolina and Ballina. There is one service a day in each direction, including Sundays. On Friday evenings an extra journey operates from Ballina. Onward bus and rail connections are available at Ballina.
- Placenames Database of Ireland: Belmullet (archival records)
- O'Hara, Bernard. Mayo: Aspects of its Heritage. 1982. p.79