Annagh (Achill’s Secret Beach)

On the north side of Achill Island, nestled in the shadow of Croaghaun mountain (668m) and accessible only on foot or by boat, is Annagh. This local beauty spot is protected on three sides by steep cliffs, while the fourth side looks out onto Blacksod Bay.

The freshwater lake at Annagh is Lough Nakeeroge East which, at just 16m above sea level, is the lowest corrie lake in Ireland. The strand at Annagh is mainly rocky, but a grey sandy beach is exposed at low tide at the eastern end of the strand. Also at this end of the bay is a megalithic tomb, evidence of former habitation in this, one of the most remote parts of Achill Island. At the western end of Annagh is the remains of a booley village, including one remaining circular – or ‘beehive’ – stone building.

Annagh is sometimes also referred to as ‘The Back of Beyond’ after an article of the same title by T. Barry in the Capuchin Annual (1973). It is a location rich in folklore and is the setting for many ghoulish stories involving ghosts and apparitions. Certainly those of a more superstitious disposition should avoid camping overnight in Annagh, as more than one such party has reported ghostly encounters. Among these stories is one involving a group of girls staying overnight in one of the booley huts in Annagh. During the night their dog was thrown in on top of them by an unknown figure. In folklore, the appearance or sighting of a figure is often a sign of impending death, and many of the stories of sightings at Annagh have this tragic outcome for the participants.

Check out Outsider magazine’s ‘Hidden Hikes’ guide to Annagh: Hidden Hikes – Annagh Bay, Achill Island. There is also an accompanying video available on facebook: Video of Annagh Hike.

Hike to Annagh as part of our lockdown ‘Let’s Bring Achill to You’ series