Westport (Irish: Cathair na Mart, literally 'the city of the Beef') is a town in County Mayo in the Republic of 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).
Scene: View of Croagh Patrick and Rosbeg
Date: 1910 (estimate)
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Read about Westport below
Westport (Irish: Cathair na Mart, literally 'the city of the Beef') is a town in County Mayo in the Republic of 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 subjects to live. Among the most picturesque features of the town is its tree-lined, flower decorated, promenade (The Mall) and little stone bridges along 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 through the year
Several festivals are held in and around Westport each year. The Westport Horse & Pony Show is held on the first weekend in June. The Sea Angling Festival is held annually in the third or fourth week in June. This is internationally acclaimed and in existence for over 42 years, attracting sea anglers from all over the world. The annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage is held annually on the last Sunday in July. The Arts Festival is held in the second two weeks of September. This is a festival of arts, music and literature. The Westport Seafood Festival is held on the October Bank Holiday weekend. The Westport Wellness Week Festival is also now growing in popularity and is held in the last week of February.
Westport has one newspaper based in the town, the Mayo News, founded in 1892. It is the place to find what is happening in Westport and the surrounding region. The free weekly Mayo Echo is also available throughout the town.
Westport is a major tourist draw with visitors coming for several reasons. The most important is the magnificent scenery of the area, and the proximity to Connemara, Achill, Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick. Westport is well known for sea-angling and freshwater fishing is popular on nearby Loughs Mask and Carra and on the Eriff river. Westport House and Children's Animal and Bird Park is a particular draw for families, many of whom stay at the caravan and camping park which belongs to Westport House. Westport has an 18-hole golf course, popular with visitors. A nearby 9-hole course has an attached guest accommodation.
Westport is twinned with the town of Plougastel Daoulas in the département of Finistère in western Brittany. Schoolchildren from the two towns regularly exchange visits. Westport is also partnered with the town of Aror in Kenya, and the people of Westport have often contributed to improving the infrastructure of Aror.
The two main churches are Holy Trinity Church (Church of Ireland), and Saint Mary's Church (Roman Catholic). Holy Trinity Church is small but an architectural gem, and provides magnificent acoustics for concerts. The local Roman Catholic Church and Church of Ireland enjoy excellent relations in Westport. Some years ago, local Catholics helped the dwindling Anglican congregation to restore Holy Trinity Church. More recently, in 2004, St. Marys was closed due to subsidence and Catholics held most of their services in Holy Trinity on the invitation of their Protestant friends.
There are no other churches in Westport. Westport has no synagogue or mosque. There used to be a Methodist church on the Mall, but it has not been used for some years. It was renovated a few years ago and is currently a restaurant.
Religious genealogical records for the 19th century for the Westport area (Church of Ireland, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Civil, Gravestone Inscriptions, etc.) are held at the South Mayo Family Research Centre in Ballinrobe.
The town is the terminus of a 250 km railway route from the capital, Dublin, which serves the town and surrounding area. This railway also serves the county town, Castlebar, about 18 km east-north-east of Westport. The line originally ran through to Westport Quay. This line was lifted overnight in 1977 by CIE. In order to pacify local concern, the bulk of the trackbed of this extension was converted to a public walkway, still open today. There was also a branch to Achill branching off after the station. This closed in 1937.
The N5 national primary route also connects the town to Castlebar, as well as connecting to the N4 near Longford that leads onward to Dublin. The other major road passing through Westport is the N59 secondary route, which rambles around the West of Ireland both to the north and south of the town.
The regional airports are Ireland West Airport Knock, 60 km (36 miles) away with several flights a day to the United Kingdom and shortly to the US, and Galway Airport, with daily flights to the United Kingdom.
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.
Major John MacBride
A monument stands on the Mall in memory of Major John MacBride. Born locally in 1865, he joined the Boer army which fought the British in the Second Boer War, rising to the rank of major. He was executed in 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising. He was the father of Sean MacBride, the Nobel peace laureate.
Westport has a small adjoining port, the Quay, once busy, no longer used for commercial shipping, but a suburb notable for its many warehouse conversions. A small ferry leaves from the Quay in the summer months bound for Clare Island. The quay is also known for its restaurants and pubs. It also includes the famous 'point' pitch, training ground of Westport United. A small museum, celebrating the history of Westport and maritime history of Clew Bay, is open to the public here, the Clew Bay Heritage Centre.
Sport in Westport
The Westport United football club was founded in 1911. Westport United won the FAI Junior Cup in 2005 in front of 2,000 supporters in Kilkenny and play their home matches in the Sports Park; matches are advertised on the local press. The club colours are red and black.