The charming little village of Cong in Mayo is like something whipped from a fairytale.
Tucked between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, it’s not hard to see why the village of Cong is one of the more picturesque small villages in Ireland.
Steeped in history, with close ties to the Quiet Man movie, and boasting a unique character and lots of things to see and do, it’s well worth exploring.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Cong to where to eat, sleep and drink. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Cong in Mayo
As Cong is one of the most popular places to visit in Mayo, a visit is fairly straightforward. However, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Cong is a small village in County Mayo that straddles the border with Galway County. It sits on a slither of land that divides Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. The original Irish name, Cúnga Fheichín’, translates to Saint Feichin’s narrows, no doubt a nod to the 7th century monastery.
2. Historically significant
Cong is awash with ancient sites and medieval wonders. Most famous among these are probably Cong Abbey and Ashford Castle, both dating to the 12th century. There’s also the iconic Cross of Cong, a gold and silver relic that dates back to 1123.
3. Hollywood fame
In more recent times, the village has become synonymous with the 1952 Hollywood classic, ‘The Quiet Man’, starring John Wayne. Many scenes were filmed in the village, and its influence can still be felt today, with Quiet Man landmarks and attractions dotted throughout the village.
4. Village on an island
The village, home to around 900 people, is situated on a makeshift island. Surrounded by water on all sides, a number of small streams keep the village self-contained. Meanwhile, Loughs Corrib and Mask lie to the south and north.
5. Underground streams
Cong is also known for the underground streams that flow beneath the village and connect the two aforementioned loughs.
Things to do in Cong and nearby
There’s no shortage of worthwhile things to do in Cong, and you’ll easily find plenty to do on a weekend-long visit.
It’s also a fine base to see some of the best things to do in Mayo, if you want to explore the surrounds of the town. Here are our favourites.
1. The Cong Nature Trail
On a fine day, there’s no better way to take in the sights and sounds of Cong than on the Cong Nature Trail.
The walk takes you on a 2.3 km looped ramble through the stunning Cong Woods, a beautifully diverse woodland home to a wealth of species.
Along the way, you’ll take in a number of exotic and native trees, including majestic Redwoods and Giant Sequoia.
The going is pretty easy, and the walk is accessible to anyone in reasonable health. In general, the loop takes 1 hour to complete.
2. Cong Abbey
A visit to Cong Abbey is one of the more popular things to do in Cong. The remains are located in the centre of the village, a stone’s throw from the river banks and they’re easily explored on foot.
In the 7th century, Saint Feichin built a church here which was then later rebuilt by High King Turlough Mor O’Connor after fire damage in 1114.
Munster raiders destroyed it in 1137, but King Turlough restored it. In 1138, it became an Augustinian settlement.
Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, last High King, added buildings in 1198. Norman attacks and time led to ruin, restored by Benjamin Guinness in 1855 after purchasing Ashford Castle.
3. The Monk’s Fishing Hut
One of the more unique things to do in Cong in County Mayo is to see the ancient Monk’s Fishing Hut located inside Cong Woods.
You’ll find it jutting out into Lough Corrib and it’s best seen from the other side of the banks, first, before heading in for a close up nosey!
The hut is believed to have been used by monks for both fishing and contemplation. It’s connected to the land by a narrow little stone beam that you can walk across.
If you visit when it’s quiet, this is a beautiful spot to stand in silence. You’ll hear the wind whipping through the leaves of the surrounding trees as you gaze out across the lake.
4. See the famous Pat Cohan’s
If you’re wondering what to do in Cong when it’s raining, take an hour or so out and make your belly happy in the famous Pat Cohan’s Bar.
Originally a quaint grocery shop, Pat Cohan’s shot to fame after its appearance in the “The Quiet Man”.
Now fans from across the world flock to Cohan’s to get a glimpse of where the now-famous ‘Fight Scene’ too place.
Drop in for a pint or settle in for a big aul feed (it’s one of the most popular restaurants in Cong for good reason!).
Related read: See 11 of the most famous The Quiet Man filming locations
5. The statue of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara
You’ll find the statue of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara on a corner near Cong Abbey (you can’t miss it).
The town, which is now a tourist hub, was catapulted to fame thanks to John’s Ford’s 1952 blockbuster and the statue gives nod to it.
You’ll find people posing with the pair regardless of the weather. There’s a little bench near by where you can watch the world go by.
6. Walking Tour of The Quiet Man Film Locations
Although Inisfree, the village in The Quiet Man, is entirely fictional, many locations from the movie can be visited to this day.
If you fancy seeing them with a guide, while hearing stories about each location, there’s a guided tour (affiliate link) that also takes you to the Quiet Man museum.
You see the Patty Finger’s location, the Reverend Playfair’s house, Pat Cohan’s Bar and plenty more.
7. Ashford Castle
The hotel guarantees amazing service, incredible rooms packed full of character, exquisite dining experiences, and a host of activities to indulge in.
If you’re not staying in the hotel, it’s definitely worth taking a stroll through the castle grounds and estates.
Perched on the banks of Lough Corrib, with woodlands and gardens across the grounds, the surroundings are incredible.
8. Corrib Cruises
One of the more unique things to do in Cong is to explore on the water. The immense Lough Corrib is just south of Cong, a vast expanse of water, dotted with little islands.
One of the best ways to view the surroundings is to hop onto a cruise boat and enjoy a historical, floating tour.
Corrib Cruises sail daily, with a number of guided tours, hosted by knowledgeable guides who will explain the history of the stunning area. Cruises sail daily from Cong, with each tour taking an hour or so.
9. Ireland’s School of Falconry
If you’ve ever fancied trying out falconry, this is the best place to give it a go. Located on the Ashford Castle Estate, this is the oldest falconry school in the country.
Knowledgeable staff will ensure you’re well looked after, while the hawks, owls, and falcons are extremely well-trained.
Within a few minutes of arrival, you’ll have a bird of prey on your gloved arm, a truly exhilarating experience.
On your hour-long hawk walk, you’ll get to enjoy watching these majestic creatures soaring through the skies, and diving into magical woodlands, before returning to your waiting arm.
10. The Quiet Man Museum
Fans of the movie will love the Quiet Man Museum, but even if you’ve never seen the film, this is a fantastic place to visit.
Situated in an authentic 1920s, whitewashed, thatch-roof cottage, an exact replica of the ‘White O’Morn’ cottage from the movie, the museum is full of artifacts, exhibitions, and costumes from the film.
Private 90-minute tours can be arranged in advance, or simply stroll around at your own pace, taking in the sights and soaking up the charming atmosphere (get your ticket here).
11. Cong Canal
The Cong Canal is a funny one. While sections are brimming with water, there’s also a slightly eerie, yet very beautiful, dry section, as seen above.
The canal was originally designed to connect Lough Mask to Lough Corrib, via a number of locks.
The canal was first proposed in 1844, but the project was abandoned when the use of railways gained in popularity. However, remnants of the project remain, and it’s well worth taking a look at.
A number of beautiful stone bridges, aqueducts, and reinforced river banks remain close to the village. Other sections provide excellent trout fishing.
12. Pigeonhole Cave
A visit to Pigeonhole Cave is another of the more popular things to do in Cong. This is a large cave which takes the shape of a cavern around 12 feet wide.
Within, there’s a subterranean stream that flows between Lough Mask and Lough Corrib. The name comes from the simple fact that it’s a popular place for pigeons to nest, but there’s a more interesting story to be told about Pigeonhole Cave.
In Irish folklore, it’s said that a white fairy trout lives in the stream. She was once a beautiful young woman about to marry the king’s son, but he was done away with before they were wed.
Mad with grief, the woman disappeared. The story goes that she was taken by the fairies, who transformed her into a white trout. Said trout later appeared in the stream, and legend says she’s still there, waiting for her true love.
Update: The Pigeonhole Cave is now blocked off by a gate for safety reasons
13. Things to do near Cong
While there’s plenty to see in Cong in Ireland, there’s endless things to do near Cong, with many of both Mayo and Galway’s top attractions within driving distance.
Below, you’ll find a handful of places to visit with a mix of indoor, outdoor and unique attractions.
- Clifden (30-minute drive): Home to the Sky Road, Clifden Castle and more
- Connemara (35-minute drive): Home to great beaches, Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey and more
- Galway City (40-minute drive): Home to the Long Walk, the Spanish Arch, Galway City Museum and more
- Westport (45-minute drive): Home to Croagh Patrick, Westport House and lovely streets to stroll along
Where to stay in Cong
If you fancy basing yourself in the village, there’s plenty of accommodation in Cong in Ireland worth checking out.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. Ryan’s Hotel
Sitting in the heart of Cong, Ryan’s is a great place if you want to be at the centre of it all. The family run hotel offers a number of stylish, comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms, a gorgeous breakfast, an outdoor terrace, and their own bar.
2. Lydons Lodge Hotel
The small family-run Lydons Lodge Hotel is a great choice for peaceful getaway. The 10 bedrooms are all spacious, tastefully decorated, and offer all the modern amenities you could ask for. The onsite restaurant dishes up fantastic dishes, with a cosy fireplace for winter evenings.
3. Ashford Castle
If you’re looking to spoil yourself or a loved one, there’s no better place than Ashford Castle. There are 83 gorgeous rooms and suites within the castle, each brimming with character and comfortably furnished. Amazing service, incredible dining, and a host of activities on the castle grounds await.
Pubs and restaurants in Cong
If you’ve spent a day ticking off some of the many things to do in Cong in Mayo, the chances are you’ll have worked up an appetite… and a thirst!
If so, you’re in luck – there are plenty of great pubs and restaurants in Cong that are great for a post-walk bite-to-eat.
1. Pat Cohan’s Gastro Pub (The Quiet Man Bar)
This is perhaps the most well-known pub in Cong, and the backdrop to many scenes in the iconic movie, The Quiet Man.
It’s become something of a pilgrimage site for fans of the film, but it’s a fantastic pub in its own right.
They serve a decent pint of Guinness, as well as an array of local craft beers, and dish up top-class dishes.
2. Crowes Nest Bar And Bistro
Set in a wonderful stone building, the Crowes Nest is a great place for a delicious meal and a pint of the good stuff.
The crackling fireplace is a treat on cooler evenings, and regular traditional music sessions take place throughout the week.
3. Cullen’s at the Cottage
Part of the Ashford Castle estate, Cullen’s is situated in a beautiful thatched cottage, and offers a casual and relaxed dining experience.
The food is amazing and the scenery outside the windows is just as good. A selection of cocktails, wines from across the globe, and local beers keep thirst at bay.
FAQs about the best things to do in Cong in Ireland
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best things to do in Cong to where to eat.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best things to do in Cong?
If you’re wondering what to do in Cong, the Cong Nature Trail, the Ashford Castle walk, the Quiet Man Museum and Corrib Cruises are all worth doing.
Is Cong worth visiting?
Yes, even if you know nothing about the Quiet Man movie, Cong in Mayo is well worth visiting as it’s a gorgeous village to explore on foot and there are lots of lovely walking trails.
Are there many pubs, restaurants and hotels in Cong?
There are plenty of places to eat, pubs and accommodation in Cong, many of which take their name from the Quiet Man movie.