We visited Westport for the Granuile/Grace O'Malley festival weekend in September this year. After a drive through the majestic Connemara landscape, we arrived to find the festival was just starting. I have some rather confused memories of Westport House being a place where lots of fun things happen, so we drove through the town to find it. At the bottom of the hill leading from Westport town is Westport Harbour, and as the baby was still asleep in the car we decided to stop here for a coffee.
Westport Harbour is a pleasant strip of family-friendly shops and restaurants with ample parking and a large grassy area for kids to explore. We stopped in a pub at the end of the strip which has a large walled picnic area and separate play-park. This allowed us to sit and have a drink whilst the baby got to stretch his legs. We continued on foot towards the end of the harbour and local museum. Unfortunately the signposted museum was closed on the weekend that we came, but we were rewarded by another green area and some stunning views of the Atlantic and Clew Bay.
We returned to our car and drove into Westport House. On our way up the drive we passed several activity sites for kids and adults. On arrival in the house itself, we could find no information on these, nor did the staff volunteer any details. I believe it is a separate enterprise to the house, but in any case, some additional signposted are warranted. Westport House has a flight of stairs leading to the main entrance, meaning that we could not bring the pushchair, and while the collections looked very interesting, we weren't confident that they we robust enough for our son's enthusiastic inspections. So we decided not to pay the entrance fee and to return to the festival.
On driving into Westport, we easily found parking on this busy festival day, and after some light refreshments and a quick nappy change, went to explore the town. The town is readily served by general and tourist shops, including some rather unique woollen crafts. The festival was completely free and as we arrived an acrobatic act was just finishing. There was also music and face painting, so the makings of a thoroughly enjoyable day out. We walked down towards the library in search of more baby friendly green space, and after checking in the leisure centre, found a large, enclosed play-park. My son enjoyed himself here, playing on all the equipment and interacting all the other kids. Everyone was friendly and as helpful as possible.
On reflection, Westport provides an excellent day out for the family, and some thoughtful touches have made it stand out in some areas. It would perhaps be better served by some signposted or displayed information, but if you have the time, finding all it has to offer becomes part of the fun.
Westport is a great little town in the west of Ireland, but it is just miles away from some of the best countryside in Ireland. Travelling west from the town, one passes some of the most beautiful landscape in the country. A road trip around the wonderfully rugged Mayo coastline is an experience never forgotten. A quick stop in the Céide fields is a must - this is a prehistoric settlement which predates the pyramids. Peruse the visitors' centre at your leisure, before driving on through a breathtaking coastal road, passing through rural villages full of charm, and pubs. A must for any real nature enthusiast.
This is one of the nicest small towns you could visit. I suppose I'm spoiled because I have a brother-in-law and his family living there. I love going down to it, the town itself still hasn't lost its quaint appeal the shops are not too new looking and you can still buy sausages and have a drink at the same time. Although every time I venture there the traffic does seem to grow but that's what tourism does for you. You can still get wonderful fresh fish (caught that morning) served with chips and a smile, or something more up-market if you like. The shoppings not bad either because the exchange rate at the minute is brilliant. 30p to the pound I believe is what they are allowing. Not bad.