Westport, situated on the west coast at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, is a town in County Mayo. It has been awarded the coveted title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2001, 2006 and 2008. Westport derives its name from the Irish word ‘Cathair na Mart’, meaning ‘city of the market’. Designed in the 18th century by James Wyatt, it is counted amongst the few planned towns in Ireland. The layout of the town was commissioned by Lord Sligo of the stately Westport House, as a place for his workers and tenants to live.
Westport, being a heritage town, offers a magnificent blend of traditional and cosmopolitan. The miscellany that makes this picturesque town includes the stately Georgian buildings along the Carrowbeg River, old-style pub with traditional music sessions and beautiful, sandy beaches within short driving distance. During the 16th century, Westport boasted a castle, which belonged to the powerful local sea faring Ó Máille Clan. This family controlled the Clew Bay area, then known as Umaill. The town comprised a high street and alleys down to the river. Browne family christened the town Westport in the 1780s.
James Wyatt, a famous English architect, commissioned the design of the town. Lovely tree-lined boulevard and the Mall, built on the River Carrowbeg, are amongst the existing features of James Wyatt’s town plan. In 1780, James Wyatt designed a town centre in the Georgian architectural style. The architectural layout displayed the medieval principles of the urban design introduced by the Normans in the 13th century. Westport House, as this structure was termed, is proclaimed as one of the most beautiful historic homes in Ireland.
The magnificent abode is adorned with an impressive parkland setting, a lake, terraces and gardens. Westport House also imparts magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Achill, Clare Island and Ireland’s Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. The site of the house was once the foundation of one of the castles of Ní Mháille.
Nicknamed the Reek, Croagh Patrick is an important site of pilgrimage. Located at a distance of 8 kilometres from Westport, the tall mountain has an elevation of 764 metres above sea level. Since the arrival of Celtic Christianity, it has been a site of pilgrimage, during the summer solstice. Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage is organised annually in Westport on the last Sunday in July.
The prominent attractions in Westport include sea angling and fresh water angling. Sea angling grounds of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, and the inshore waters of the bay offer excellent angling opportunities. Abundance of Salmon, Sea Trout and Brown Trout in the rivers around Westport cater to the requirements of the fresh water anglers. Sea Angling Festival, an internationally acclaimed event organised annually in June, beckons sea anglers from all over the world.
Carrowbeg River, which flows through the enticing town, is also apt for fishing. Sailing and yachting are other attractions of this enthralling town. Golfers can visit the fabulous 18-hole Championship Golf Course, which offers scenic splendour and excellent golfing. The vast choice of things to do in the town also comprises horse riding, pony trekking, cycling, forest walks, clay pigeon shooting, paintballing, hill walking and scuba diving.
Westport, along with its picturesque features, creates the most stunning combination of culture, fun and adventure for the entire family.
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All Imagery Courtesy of Panoramio
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