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Golden Strand

Golden Strand

Golden Strand beach is located on the north side of Achill Island.  It looks out onto Blacksod Bay and the Mullet Peninsula.

The name ‘Golden Strand’ which is also known as Barnyaguppal Strand is derived from the Gaelic ‘Trá Bhearna na gCapall’ meaning the strand of the gap of the horses.  It refers to the time when horses were used to carry seaweed from the shore which was then used as fertiliser on fields.


On the western seaboard, low and flat windswept sand plains known as Machair are found. Machair consists of a mixture of sands derived from the shells of animals which lived on the offshore platform and from glacial tills.

Machair beaches are often found between outcrops or in small bays between headlands.  The upper limit of the beach is usually marked by a pebble or cobble ridge behind which there are dunes. Behind the dunes is usually a gently sloping plain whose degree of flatness is a reflection of age.  The level of the machair plain is controlled by the underlying water table.  This is the reason that many machair areas are flooded during winter.  Machair is a completely vegetation covered coastal plain, lyme and marram grass being the most common varieties found.



This machair site occurs on two plains separated by an escarpment (steep slope). The sward includes species such as Common Bird’s – foot Trefoil, Lady’s Bedstraw, various small Sedges and Sand Sedge.

Foot Trefoil Ladys Bedstraw

Common Bird's Foot Trefoil              Lady's Bedstaw


Behind the machair plain are two small lakes. Lough Doo is bordered at the western end by a freshwater marsh with Fool’s Watercress and Lesser Spearwort present. Lough Nambrack to the south is partially fringed by Common Reed with occasional Bur-Reed and Bulrush. It also has a marsh rich with water mint, Marsh Marigold and Marsh Cinquefois. A number of rare species of moss and liverwort are found around both lakes including Petalwort. This rare species is accorded special protection status by the E.U.

With the range and diversity of mosses and liverworts found on this site, Achill Island is one of the foremost areas in Ireland which carries international importance for these plants.

Seal Caves

In the 19th Century, Achill Island was noted for the large number of seals found around it’s coast. The seal caves at Dugort were home to a particularly large colony. Towards the latter half of the century, their numbers began to drop significantly. Their decline was most likely due to the large number of hunters that came to the island to hunt seals for sport during the late 19th Century. Today, seals can occasionally be seen in the waters around the island.

Bird Life

Waders such as the Snipe, Lapwing and Oystercatcher are frequently spotted in this area.




The Gull family is well represented with the Common Gull, Kittiwake, Blackheaded Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull all visitors to the beach.


Lesser Black Backed Gull      

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Terns are also sighted with the Arctic Tern, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern being the most commonly noted.

Cormorants and Shags have also been spotted.


Arctic Tern‎Arctic Tern
 Sandwich Tern‎Sandwich Tern



Golden Strand Beach Legend Map (Document)

Golden Strand Beach Legend Map
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Mayo Beaches

Environment Section
Second Floor
Mayo County Council
The Mall
Co Mayo
Phone: (094) 9024444
Open: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Cycle Routes - Achill

Cycle Routes in Achill taking in Dugort, Golden Strand, Keem and Dooega Beach.

Cycle Routes - Achill-read the full story.

Posted: 07/03/2013

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