The charming little village of Cong in Mayo is like something whipped from a fairytale.
Tucked between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, the village of Cong is a wonderfully olde-worlde kind of place.
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. Indeed, the village is surrounded by small streams, giving it something of an island feel.
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. There are plenty of things to do in Cong
If you’ve no interest in the Quiet Man, don’t worry – there are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Cong that make it worth a visit, from the canal walk and the beautiful streets, it’s a fine place to whittle away an afternoon.
About the village of Cong in Mayo
The village of Cong is steeped in history, with the village itself dating back to 1111, although the area has been inhabited far longer.
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.
Cong is also known for the underground streams that flow beneath the village and connect the two aforementioned loughs.
While it may be a small, almost typical village in County Mayo, Cong is known around the world by fans of the 1952 classic ‘The Quiet Man’.
With the movie filmed in the village and the nearby Ashford Castle, it’s become a hotspot for visitors looking to soak up the movie’s atmosphere. Tours, museums, and classic sets are a big draw, bringing thousands of visitors each year.
Things to do in Cong (and nearby)
There’s no shortage of amazing 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 enjoying the Cong Nature Trail. The walk takes you on a 2.3 km looped ramble through the stunning Cong forest, 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 will take around 1 hour to complete.
2. 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.
3. Cong Abbey
Cong Abbey dates back to the 12th century, and while it now lies in ruins, it remains a focal point in the village and a popular tourist attraction.
The remains are located in the centre of the village, a stone’s throw from the river banks. Some of the medieval stone walls still stand proud, displaying intricate stonework and curious carvings.
Head towards the river and you’ll find the Monk’s Fishing House, offering lovely, peaceful views over the river.
4. Corrib Cruises
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. There’s also a 2-hour island cruise on weekends between June and September.
5. 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.
6. 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. Aside from the museum, there are also Quiet Man walking tours through the village, as well as a gift shop.
7. Cong Canal
The Cong Canal was originally designed to connect Lough Mask to Lough Corrib, via a number of locks.
Proposed in 1844, the project was later abandoned due to the increasing use of railways over canals. However, remnants of the project remain, and it’s interesting to take 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.
8. Pigeonhole Cave
Located just outside of Cong, you’ll find this fairly large natural 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 legend, it’s believed 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 murdered before they were wed. Mad with grief, the woman disappeared.
It was said 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.
Where to stay in Cong
If you fancy basing yourself in the village, there’s plenty of accommodation in Cong 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. Cong Glamping
Just a mile from Cong, this is a wonderful campsite, ideal for motorhomes, single tents, and caravans alike. They offer Wi-Fi throughout the site, a fantastic BBQ area, laundry, kitchen, games, and toilets and showers. In addition, there are a number of glamping tents, fitted with double beds, electricity, and a private picnic table.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Michaeleen’s Manor B&B
Situated in a beautiful stone manor house just outside of Cong, this is a superb B&B that offers a personal touch. Each room is wonderfully cosy, with en-suite bathrooms and the usual amenities. Husband and wife team, Gerry & Margaret Collins, ensure a warm welcome and an amazing stay. And the breakfast is to die for — after all, Margaret was a chef at the renowned Ashford Castle during Ronald Reagan’s visit.
6. Danaghers Hotel Cong
For a really personal stay in Cong, Danaghers is a superb choice. While they have just 2 rooms available, both offer everything you need. There’s also a stunning restaurant and a wonderful bar, which hosts regular live music sessions where all are encouraged to join in.
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 cracking pint of Guinness, as well as an array of local craft beers, and dish up world-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.