According to Wholevehicles, Irish Westport is located in County Mayo and is considered the main tourist Mecca not only of this, but, perhaps, of the entire province of Connaught. With a population of just over 5,000 people, this town is located in such a beautiful area that it can rightfully be called the pearl of western Ireland. The beaches near Westport are eye-catching with piercing blue waters, the scenery is breathtaking, and the pubs and restaurants amaze even those who have long given up on the cuisine of the British Isles.
The great W. Thackeray visited Westport in 1842 and wrote the following about this visit: “The most beautiful view I have ever seen in the world. To see a place so beautiful and so different from other beauties becomes an event of a person’s whole life. If it were on the Mediterranean or the Baltic, English travelers would flock here by the hundreds, so why not go to Ireland for that!”
Westport is a fertile place to commune with nature. The surrounding area has a lot to offer to lovers of fresh salty air and the pure untouched beauty of the sea, valleys and mountains.
In 2012, Westport was named the best city to live in Ireland. And also – “the most cramped big city” and “the most comfortable big city.”
How to get to Westport
The nearest airport, Knock, which accepts local flights, is 60 km from Westport. A bus runs from Galway to the city three times a day (travel time is about 2.5 hours).
Until the 16th century, it was just a small village, where no more than a few hundred people lived permanently. But then, with the laying of a stone castle, the village began to grow and already in the 1780s. received a new name and city status. The Englishman James Wyatt worked on its architectural appearance, and Westport became one of the few Irish cities with a clear, rather than chaotic layout.
Natives of Westport are nicknamed “covies”. A few decades ago, they even had their own dialect, which was completely incomprehensible to other residents of the country.
Entertainment and attractions in Westport
The characteristic sights of Westport are the central octagonal square (“Octagon”), the linden-lined embankment of the Carrowbeg River, the Georgian buildings in the old center and a beautiful view of Clew Bay. In addition, the green mall boulevard with several stone bridges and nice restaurants. And yet – the serene beauty of landscapes with green meadows and a view of Sligo in the background.
One of the city’s most impressive buildings is Westport House, the estate of the Marquis of Sligo. Its construction on the site of the former castle began in 1730. and completed by Wyatt. He also became the author of the interior of the dining room. The estate stands in the middle of a park with a lake, terraces, gardens and views of the harbor and the Atlantic. Today, as many centuries before, the estate is privately owned by the Brownie family, direct descendants of the medieval female pirate Grace O’Malley. And in honor of the glorious pirate past, an adventure park of the corresponding theme was opened on the territory of Westport House.
Grace O’Malley left a rather noticeable mark in the history of the region; she is sometimes referred to as the Sea Queen of Connaught. The brave pirate has become a symbol of independent Ireland and appears under various names in many folklore stories and songs. A bronze statue of O’Malley is installed on the territory of the castle, and a rather extensive exposition is open on the estate itself, telling about her life.
Of the more or less impressive buildings in the city, one can single out the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity – a severe Gothic building made of dark stone with a high sharp bell tower. The Roman Catholic Church of the Virgin Mary is not at all like her. But in general, Westport is not an “architectural” city. It is much more interesting here to come on Thursday morning to the market, which opens on Octagonal Square, around the monument of St. Patrick, and stare / buy excellent farm products. And in the evening it is worthy to spend time in a pub with music.
3 things to do in Westport:
- Visit the branch of the National Museum of Ireland – the only one outside of Dublin.
- Stop by Matt Molloy’s bar, world famous (according to the Irish) for the traditional live music played here.
- Climb Mount St. Patrick, which is 8 km from Westport, and see the chapel at the top. If you do this on the last Sunday in July, you will be accompanied by about 25,000 pilgrims, many of whom will be barefoot.
Many of the city’s finest restaurants are concentrated in Quay, a former trading port area now suburban area where many warehouse buildings remain. There is also a small museum of the history of the city and navigation in the Clue Bay. And in Thurlow Park, near Castlebar, the National Museum of Ireland and Rural Life is located in a Gothic Victorian building of the 19th century. It has a large collection of household items dating back to 1950, as well as modern exhibition spaces with interactive expositions and video equipment. The mansion itself, which occupies the museum, also deserves every attention, as well as the beautiful park around. A drawing room and a library on the ground floor with antique furniture from the early 20th century are open to the public.
When planning a trip around the area, you can first opt for Kylemore Abbey. The castle was built as a heartfelt gift in 1867 and has a romantic and tragic history. The abbey chapel was built in the Gothic style and exactly copies the cathedral in Norwich (England). In 1920, the only congregation of Benedictine nuns in Ireland was located here. Today, the convent has 1,000 acres of beautiful parkland with a Victorian garden where the nuns grew flowers, herbs and vegetables, natural gifts that are still used in the kitchen of the Benedictine cafe. There is also a tea house on the territory of the abbey, which offers stunning views of the Connemara National Park.
And if you move from Westport inland, to the east, then after about 50 km of the way you will find yourself in the town of Knock, famous throughout Ireland. It is a place of pilgrimage and worship for hundreds of Catholics, with up to half a million visitors annually. According to history, in August 1879, 15 villagers of various sexes and ages witnessed a miracle at the parish church: the Mother of God appeared to them with John the Baptist and St. Joseph. This story made such a strong impression on the whole country that even Queen Victoria requested a report on it from official sources. A museum has been opened in Nok, where you can find out in detail what exactly happened on that memorable evening, and get acquainted with documentary evidence. Of course, it is worth visiting the basilica itself, where the statues are installed.
If you focus on the main wealth of these places – natural beauties, then you should go to Achill Island, covered with moorlands, mountains and swamps. The road here runs along the picturesque beaches on one side and the foothills on the other, and in Kiel there is a beautiful beach 3 km long, surrounded by cliffs of a fantasy and memorable shape. In addition, on the island you can see many archaeological sites that have been preserved from the Neolithic period to the late Middle Ages. The most famous of the ancient settlements of Akilla is an abandoned village at the foot of Mount Slievemore. This ancient settlement was abandoned in 1855, but the ruins of about 80 stone houses remained here.
But even in the absence of the desire to get out somewhere for the whole day, Westport is a fertile place to communicate with nature. The surrounding area has a lot to offer to lovers of fresh salty air and the pure untouched beauty of the sea, valleys and mountains. Just a few kilometers away is the holy mountain of St. Patrick for every Irishman. The small wild islands of Clue Bay can be reached very quickly by ferry from the city. Around the city there are a lot of traditional villages, old and not very old. One of the best beaches in Ireland, Bertra is perfect for windsurfing, kite surfing, swimming and bird watching, while at Old Head Beach you can admire beautiful rock pools that are exposed at low tide.
In addition, Westport is the start of the Great Western Greenway, a 42 km long hiking and biking trail that runs through Newport and Mulrannie along Clew Bay to Achill. It is the longest off-road cycle route in Ireland, opened in 2010.
Every year, Westport hosts a number of exciting events. In the spring it is a festival of traditional Irish music and St. Patrick’s Day. In summer, the June Pony and Horse Show, the Sea Fishing Festival, the Music and Food Festival, and the Folk and Bluegrass Festival. In October – festivals of painting and seafood. And in December, a big fair opens here.