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Beaches - Betra


Welcome to Bertra, one of the Blue flag Beaches along the County Mayo coastline. This popular beach is located 12 kilometres (7 miles) west of Westport.

Bird Life

Some of the more common birds that can be seen at the beach include:

Cormorants (Broigheall)
Shags (Seaga)

Waders:

Snipe (Naoscach)
 Lapwing (Pilibin)
Oystercatcher (Roilleach)

Terns:

Common Tern (Geabhrog)
Artic Tern (Geabhrog artach)
Sandwich Tern (Geabhrog dhuscothach)

Gulls:

Common Gull (Faoilean Ban)
Kittiwake ( Saidhbhear)
Blackheaded Gull (Faoilean ceanndubh)
Great Black-backed Gull ( Droimneach mor)
Lesser Black backed Gull (Droimneach beag)
Herring Gull ( Faoilean scadam)

Area of Scientific Interest

Clew Bay Drumlin Field

Clew Bay is an area of international scientific importance due to its geomorphical significance as one of the few DROWNED DRUMLIN landscapes in the world. Drumlins are low, elongated hills composed of glacially deposited materials and usually occur in fields or “swarms”. Their shape indicates the direction of ice flow with the steeper, blunt end facing the direction from which the ice came. The Clew Bay field was submerged when the ice caps melted, causing the sea level to rise. The westernmost drumlins have been almost completely eroded by the force of the Atlantic waves. The outer drumlin islands have steep seaward facing cliffs of boulder clay but much of the eroded material has been redeposited in the form of shingle spits, tombolos and forelands. Some of these spits link the western islands to create a distinctive coastal pattern and protect the inner drumlin islands from the Atlantic waves.

Murrisk Friary

Thady, chief of the O’ Malley’s donated land to the Augustinian friars in 1457 for a friary and church at Murrisk. The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century saw the dissolution of the monasteries in Ireland. The siege of Kinsale in 1601  ended what was left of the old Irish Order and the Garvey family were given possession of Murrisk and the church lands of Oughaval and Gloshpatrick devolved  on the Protestant archbishop of Tuam. The catholic religion was not allowed in Public but the friars remained in the locality and ministered to the people. A chalice was donated to Murrisk by Theobald, First Viscount Mayo and son of Grainne Uaile in 1635, another by Friar John DeBurgo in 1648.

Croagh Patrick

This mountain, towering 2510 feet above the shore of Clew Bay is the site of pilgrimage for many who come to pay homage to their patron saint. Legend has it that St. Patrick spent the entire Lent of the year 441, in prayer and fasting on the mountain. In emulation, for countless years, thousands of pilgrims have climbed these slopes, often in bare feet. The annual pilgrimage takes place on the last Sunday in July. From the top of this mountain, St. Patrick is supposed to have rid Ireland of snakes and all venomous creatures.

Sand Dunes

Sand carried inland by onshore winds is deposited in streamline form around some obstacle. Plants then colonise these small mounds of sand. As sand deposition proceeds, their foliage creates even more deposition and the root network binds the sand into low embryo dunes. As these dunes grow in height they coalesce parallel to the shoreline. In turn they are colonised and stabilised by other establishing plants and the dunes continue to grow.

Dune Erosion

Almost all dunes are subject to erosion, most commonly caused by “blow outs”. This happens when the wind gains access to sand beneath the vegetation at the crest and rapidly erodes the surface causing a depression. As the wind is channelled into it, the depression grows until its width reduces the channelling effect of the wind, leaving low-lying rolling dune pasture called Machair.

 Frontal erosion occurs when the entire seaward face of the dune system is cut down by storm waves. This can be recognised by a steep slope of loose sand and slipping clumps of crestal vegetation. Human activity also has a large part to play in dune erosion. The removal of sand and shingle can eave large areas of dune open to wind erosion. Cutting dune vegetation or over-grazing the area by cattle or horses is another damaging activity. Recreation at beaches can also damage dunes. Vehicle movements can damage the turf carpet and the creation of paths through the dunes exposes bare sand where blow-outs can occur.