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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Mayo County > Westport
Westport (Irish: Cathair na Mart, meaning ‘Stone fort of the Beeves’) is a town in County Mayo in Ireland. It is situated on the west coast of Ireland, at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. Westport has a gracious town centre in the Georgian architectural style, as one of the few planned towns in the country (by James Wyatt in 1780). The planning of the town was commissioned by Lord Sligo of the stately home, Westport House, as a place for his workers and tenants to live. Among the picturesque features of the town are its tree-lined, flower decorated, promenade (The Mall) and several stone bridges over the river Carrow Beg.

The famous pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick, known locally as "the Reek" lies some 10km west of the town near the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. The mountain presents a striking backdrop to the town. The church on the summit can just be made out with the naked eye from Westport.

Westport is unusual in Ireland in that it is a planned town. The original village of Cathair na Mart was moved to its present site in the 1780s by the Browne family. The town was laid out by James Wyatt, a famous English architect. He also completed Westport House,the stately home of the Marquess of Sligo and designed the dining room. Westport House had originally been built by Richard Cassels, the German architect, in the 1730s, on the original O' Malley Castle. The dungeons of the O' Malley castle still remain. The most notable feature of James Wyatt's plan is the lovely tree-lined boulevard, the Mall, built on the River Carrowbeg.

Designed by the famous architects Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century, Westport House is considered one of Ireland's most beautiful historic homes open to the public. Westport House is situated in an impressive parkland setting with a lake, terraces, gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Achill, Clare Island and Ireland's Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. It was built and is still privately owned by the Browne family, who are direct descendants of the 16th century Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley.

During the 16th century, Grace O'Malley or Granuaile was a famous Pirate Queen of Connaught. After her death, a report stated that for forty years she was the stay of all rebellions in the West. She was chief of the O'Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo. Grace O’Malley had several castles in the west of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was actually built. There is still an area of her original castle in the basement of the House (the Dungeons), which is on view to visitors.

There is a Bronze statue of Grace O’Malley by the artist Michael Cooper situated on the grounds of Westport House.

The original House was built by Colonel John Browne, a Jacobite, who was at the Siege of Limerick, and his wife Maude Bourke. Maude Bourke was Grace O’ Malley’s great-great granddaughter. The House then did not have the lake or a dam and the tide rose and fell against the walls.

Today Westport House is one of Ireland's premier visitor attractions, having welcomed over 4 million visitors since opening its doors to the public in 1960. The historic home and its original contents are on full show combined with a Pirate Adventure Park which includes a Pirate Ship thrill ride and Ireland's first log flume ride - The 'Pirate's Plunge', among many other attractions.

The Gaelic football club, Westport United football (soccer) club and the Rugby club have a venerable tradition in both county and national competition. Surfing is said by many to be the fastest growing sport on the west coast and Westport is perfectly poised as a setting-off point for surfers nationwide. Adventure sports are moving ahead from hill walking and mountain hiking to a range of water-based sports and indeed mountain running. The Gael Force West event in Autumn 2006 and 2007 signified a topographical recognition of Westport as an idyllic location for adventure sports. Sea Angling has always proven a popular fairweather activity. Deep-sea fishing and shore angling in Clew Bay is seen more as a day out than a sport as such, however there are angling competitions and festivals during the summer months.
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In: Mayo
People: 5,140
Speak: English, Irish
Type: Market Town
GPS: -9.5333, 53.8