Dive into a town that is filled
With history & culture
dive into a town that is filled
with history & culture
WESTPORT History & Culture
Westport is renowned for not only its colourful, vibrant and picturesque views, but also for its historical culture that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Westport is designated as a heritage town and is unusual in that it is one of only a few planned towns in Ireland. In the Georgian-style town centre, designed by William Leeson in 1780, stone bridges link the tree-lined promenade on the banks of the Carrowbeg River. Many would describe this boulevard as one of the town’s most defining features.
Westport originates and gets its name, in Irish, from a 16th-century castle – Cathair na Mart (meaning “the stone fort of the beeves” or “the city of the fairs”) – and surrounding settlement, belonging to the powerful local seafaring Ó Máille clan, who controlled the Clew Bay area, then known as Umaill. This castle forms the foundations of Westport House, and a portion of it is still visible in the Dungeons area there. The most famous of the O’Malleys was Granuaile, chieftain of the clan and 16th-century pirate queen of Connacht, and ancestor of the Brownes of Westport House.
The original village of Cathair na Mart existed somewhere around what is now the front (east) lawn of Westport House. It had a high street, alleys down to the river and a population of around 700. A small port also existed at the mouth of the Carrowbeg river. Roads lead from the village to the west (West Road), the south (Sandy Hill Road) and the east (Old Paddock Road). The town was moved to its present site in the 1780s by the Browne family of Westport House to make way for their gardens and was renamed Westport.
Westport House and Pirate Adventure Park has welcomed over 5 million visitors with its range of heritage, family-fun, camping and adventure activity offerings. It truly offers something for everyone in the family – from grand-parents, to mum & dad, teens, young ones and even toddlers.
18th Century Westport House is privately owned and operated by Jeremy Browne (The 11th Marquess of Sligo) and his family, who are direct descendants of Grace O’ Malley, the famous 16th Century Pirate Queen of Connaught. From small beginnings of 2,700 visitors in 1960, it has become one of Ireland’s best loved attractions and was recently voted one of the Best Family Visitor Attractions in Ireland by Primary Times Magazine.
The jewel in the crown of the West, you cannot visit Mayo without stopping in.
Croagh Patrick, which overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland.
The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Its religious significance dates back to the time of the pagans, when people are thought to have gathered here to celebrate the beginning of harvest season.
Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation. The Black Bell of Saint Patrick was a highly venerated relic on Croagh Patrick for many years.
Clew Bay Heritage Centre
The Clew Bay Heritage Centre at the Quay pieces together the picture of Westport past and present, drawing fascinating connections with the Browne family of Westport House – depicting the story of Westport come to life through historical record.
Situated in a 19th Century building on the Quad, the Clew Bay Heritage Centre traces the history of Westport and the Clew Bay Area from pre-Christian times to the present.
Artefacts, documents and photographs connected with the general Westport area provide a basis for the presentation of local history, customs and traditions.
Kylemore Abbey (Irish: Mainistir na Coille Móire) is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I. The current Mother Abbess of the Benedictine Community is Mary Margaret Funk.
The Estate includes large walled Victorian Gardens. Since the 1970s these have been open for public tours and ‘nature’ walks. The Benedictine community has restored the Abbey’s gardens and Cathedral with donations and local artisans in order to be a self-sustaining estate.