Rewriting history in Westport
The post prominent feature that vistors to Westport is monument in the 'Octagon', which is rather fine Georgian square.
The monument was originally put in place by Lord Sligo's agent. Obviously this bloke had one massive insecurity complex as monument is not event to Lord Sligo but to himself, in his own honour ! - talk about Lording it over the Locals.
This statue of Mr. Glendenning was in place until the 1920s when in an action similar to that seen in Iraq recently when Saddam Hussain was removed from power - the statue was toppled/
The monument remained vacant until the late 1980's when the monument was then cleaned and restored. To re-use the pace a statue of a young St. Patrick was put in place along with the tablets of St. Patrick's writings around the eight sides of the monument.
To be a Pilgrim...
Just 10kms from Westport (and you can clearly see it from the town) lies the mass of Croagh Patrick. the mountain where St Patrick reputedly spent all of one Lent on praying before driving out the snakes and converting all of Ireland into a 'Catholic Home win'.
Climbing his mountain takes a couple of hours, and is quite arduous towards the top as you have to scamble over a giant cone of rocks before arriving at the small church on the summit.
The climb is always worth it for the spectaular views - but you could join thousands of others (some barefoot) on 'reek sunday', the Last in July and on St Patricks holy day (17th march).
When you begin the climb, look out for the small well from where St Patrick baptised his first converts.
NB Things have moved on in Ireland : These days you get baptised with several pints of the Black stuff, whilst listening to U2 on your i-pod and watching a re-run of 'Father Ted' (allegedly)
PS please see my account of climbing it on Reek sunday in the travelogue
- Mountain Climbing
Westport Quay area
Clew Bay laps gently into this area of the town, and it is quite a striking and dramatic spot to be.
There is a good range of crafty-type shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs these days (including the very 'boaty' pub called 'The Towers'), so it almost rivals the town centre as a place to relax and have fun. Most of these are contained in well restored warehouses facing the Quay.
The Quay area itself includes the Clew Bay Heritage Centre, which is FREE, and contains a range of arterfacts covering the local history of the area right back to pre-historical times. It sits on the end of the Quay, which is still a semi-industrial, semi-derelict space. I guess there will be moves in future years to further 'enhance' the facilities. The one thing that can't be enhanced is the view - spectacular !
- Museum Visits
A very finely appointed town
Westport is a very fine and handsome looking Georgian small town, unusual in Ireland in actually being planned. Kenmare would be another example, down in County Kerry.
Lord Sligo, who resided in nearby Westport house wanted to provide a town for his workers, and indeed subjects.
His vision was well executed, with a 'Triangle' of smart streets to explore and a 'canalised' (is that a word) river below bridged by quaint looking constructions.
As the whole complex is built within a kind 'of bowl', the town has a remarkable sense of 'togetherness' about it. Only in more modern times has new developments on the top of the 'rim' somewhat spoilt this arrangement.
The Tourist office will gladly sell you leaflets and books to explore the place in more detail, and there are guided walks available as well (twice a week in July/ August and at other times by appointment).
I would certainly recommend a good hour to stroll about and get a good feel of the place.
No1 School Trip destination in Ireland
Whilst Westport House may bill itself as such a destination, do not be alarmed, the place is not an Irish version of Alton Towers an Irish Disneyland.
It has a couple of 'thrill' rides but these are very low key and understated. The giant slide, log flume, giant swans on the lake and indoor play with a mountain of brightly coloured balls are may keep an eight-year-old quite for a couple of hours by any teenager will inform you in no uncertain terms that this is the most boring place on the face of the planet.
I also fail to understand quite what the attraction of "One of Ireland's largest collections of farm buildings" has to offer - Ireland is such a rural country most local visitors could see this sort of stuff day in and day out.
Westport house itself, however, is well worth the 11euro 50 entry money as it is one of the finest Georgian houses you will ever see - all white walls, black and gold furniture. The setting and gardens are also quite spectacular.
My wife always mentions that she went here on a schopol trip as a little girl. After she trooped round the house which included the dining room all laid out for a meal, she presumed that they would later all sit down for a meal. Such delusiuons of granduer - I bet there were few tears on the bus home that day.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
A moving memorial to the Irish Exodus
At Murrisk, Co. Mayo, a few miles from Westport on the Clifden road stands the National Famine Memorial commissioned by Irish Government. It is named 'coffin ship' and was built by John Belan.
They were called coffin ships as many who left on them to escape the grinding poverty and famine of 1840's Ireland never made it the New Continent. Many died of disease, some a hunger and some when the whole rotten boat failed to make it across the Atlantic.
Many thousands left from Westport Harbour and along Clew bay relatives would light large bonfires to seem them off, and wish them good luck. It make you wonder - who exactly were the lucky ones ?
Westport house : other attractions
Westport house operates a 'passport' system, whereby each of it's attractions can be visted once (or sometimes two or three times) during a visit.
The House and grounds are, of course, the main attraction. You will also find a minature railway with dancing monkeys, a smallish water slide, a mini-zoo, pitch and putt, adventure playground and slippery slide.
It makes for a fair afternoon's entertainment for children aged 3-8, but I would think anyone over that age would want something witha bit more 'meat' to it. You won't find anything white-knuckle hidden in the woods here.
Westport house : The swans
The swans are in fact pedalos (cycle powered plastic rafts) which you can paddle around the lake. Although no mention of the folklaw is given on the website, I am reliably informed that the swans are supposed to bring to mind the Legend of the children of Lir from Celtic mythology. The best account I can find of the tale is from Class 3 of Scoil Mhuire Primary School, so thanks to them for the story....
Once there lived a man called Lir. He had four children their names were Fionnula, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. They were very happy till their mother died. Then Lir got married again to Eva. She was now the childrens' stepmother. Eva thought Lir loved Fionnula, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn more than he loved her. So one day Eva called for her chariot.
Eva brought the children for a swim. The children went for a swim and Eva got her wand out. She put a spell on the children and changed them into swans. She said that they would be 300 years in Lough Derravaragh, 300 years on the Sea of Moyle and 300 years in the Western Sea. Eva went home and Lir asked her where were the children. Eva told him what had happened to the children. Eva told Lir that she put a spell on the children so Lir got the wand and changed Eva into a demon of the air and he never saw Eva again. He went out to find the four children. He could not find them. He went home.
When 300 years were up Fionnula said "it¹s time to go to the Sea of Moyle". It was very cold in the Sea of Moyle. One night a bad storm came. There was thunder and lightning. They were all very sad so Fionnula put them under her wings. They were happy under her wings. 300 years were over so they went to the Western Sea. One day a bell went and the four swans became people again. They were blessed by a holy man. They were really old and died straight away.
- Family Travel
National Famine Memorial
It's quite disturbing when you look at the ship. It's a 'famine' ship and you can see a couple of skeletions! A bit spooky but it shows how bad the famine was in the western part of Ireland. Over 1 million people died and a further 1 million emigrated.
- Arts and Culture
Croagh Patrick is the Holy mountain of Ireland, situated on the south of Clew bay, near the towns of Westport and Castlebar.
If you are into walking up mountains then go for it.
A bit of history:
The national apostle, St. Patrick, is said to have spent forty days and nights on the summit of Croagh Patrick, fasting and praying for the people of Ireland around the middle of the fifth century. Since early Christian times, a national pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick has taken place on the last Sunday in July each year. So why don't you try? But make sure you wear comfortable and appropriate shoes.
- Mountain Climbing
The Surrounds of westport are amazing for Surfing and Kitesurfing. The current european surfing champion lives in westport and surfs on the beaches nearby. There's a surf school on Carrownisky beach throughout the summer where you can rent boards, get tuition etc. Once school is back though they're only there at weekends (and not in winter). Also, there's a life-guard on duty during the summer.
- Water Sports
Knockranny Spa within the Knockranny hotel is a beautiful spa on the outskirts of Westport town. It has a freshwater pool surrounded by sandstone paving and muted lighting. There are a number of rooms off the pool including a sauna, steamroom, monsoon shower, brine inhalation room, and aromatherapy room. The best thing about it is that the few times I've been there, there has either been no-one else using the facility or one/two other people.
You can pay to use the pool, or it is included within the price of one of the treatments.
- Spa and Resort
Glenanns sailing club is on an island called Collanmore off the coast of westport, and the pier where you get the boat out to it is about 5 miles from Westport town.
If you want to learn sailing for the week/weekend, I would definitely recommend this place. From about april until october they run sailing courses for all levels. All tuition, accomodation and food is included in the price and they have fantastic 'sessions' in the island pub in the evenings (until 3/4 in the mornings!) just to make it that little bit more challenging to go out in a boat the next morning. What better way to cure a hangover though than to immerse yourself in the 'refreshing' atlantic waters!
Glennans sailing club on collanmore island is one of three the glennans sailing group do. There's one in France, and one also in Baltimore, Co. Cork (larger boats/Cruisers). The Collanmore location teaches Windsurfing and sailing on lasers, picos, and catamarans etc.
- Sailing and Boating
one of the loveliest towns in Western Ireland!
It was founded in the 18th Century which you can see......the wide roads & streets, the river that was canalizised and runs along the MALL which is a wide anvenue with rows of lime trees on both sides.
There are wonderfully restored Georgian Houses, such a joy to see....
The Protestant church was built about 1880 in Late-Victorian Style and surprise, surprise....you can discover some nice Art-Nouveau influences here......
Originally Westport was developed as part of a large Estate.
At the end of the 18th Century it was very prosperous by its textile industries...
The local industry declined caused by the new ACT of UNION when cheaper products and goods from England could be imported, such a pity....
why is ONE MAN'S DEAD (always) THE OTHER MAN'S BREAD ????? SOUR & HARD......
At about 1825 the textile industry had almost completely disappeared.
Nowadays Westport is a market-town and a fishermen's town.
Don't forget: in the direct vicinity of Westport are some very nice beaches.....
SOME SCENIC DRIVES....
Must see, must see....almost everything in Ireland is a MUST SEE......natural beauty, architecture, art, handicrafts, cultural beauty .....
There I shall list some SCENIC ROUTES and the only thing you need to have is a good map!
a. Westport - Newport - Mulranny - Currane - Achill Sound - Atlantic Drive - Keel - Dugort - Westport.
b. Westport - Croagh Patrick - Murrisk - Leenane - Kylemore Abbey - Westport.
c. Westport - Tourmakeady - Lough Mask - Lough Nafooey - Clonbur - Cong - Ashford Castle - Ballintubber Abey - Westport.
d. Westport - Louisburgh - Delphi - Aasleagh Falls - Erriff Valley - Westport.
e. Westport - Newport - Furnace - Shramore - Westport.
f. Westport - Drumming - Sheeffrey - Delphi - Louisburgh - Westport.
DO ENJOY THEM.....
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