Sites With Mike: Westport, Ireland

GARDINER MITCHELL

Michael Gannon, Contributor

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Westport is a town located in Mayo, a county in northwestern Ireland. It is a small town that has retained much of it’s rugged beauty throughout the years. According to Destination Westport, the town of Westport originated in the sixteenth century, and received its name from a nearby castle called Cathair na Mart, which translates to English as “The stone fort of the Beeves”. Westport has a lot of exciting things to see and do, including, among other things, the Great Western Greenway, Westport House and Croagh Patrick.  

The Great Western Greenway was once a railroad, but now it is a 42 kilometer path used by hikers and bikers alike to admire and enjoy Ireland’s countryside. Little of this path crosses any road, rather, it passes almost entirely through woods, coastline, and bogs. Travelling on this rugged trail will give one the feeling of being a part of old Ireland, and being completely isolated from the distractions of the modern world. There are a number of restaurants and pubs nearby, so it is a convenient spot to explore as well.

In addition to breathtaking landscapes, Ireland is also home to historical homes, such as Westport House. According to the tourist website for the Westport House, the origin of Westport House can be traced back to the sixteenth century. During this time, Westport House was one of several estates home to Grace O’Malley, the Queen of Connaught, who was also noted for being a pirate. Today, Westport house has been converted into a tourist attraction. Tourists can see 300 years worth of Irish history housed here, as well as visit other attractions located there, such as the pirate adventure park. The park is pirate themed because of Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen who once resided there, and has a host of fun rides and boats, a zip wire, and one can even practice their archery skills at this theme park.  

According to Teach na Miasa, Croagh Patrick is a very popular destination located about five miles from Westport. Croagh Patrick is considered Ireland’s holiest mountain. In A.D. 441, Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, fasted on the summit of the mountain for 40 days to honour God. As a result, Croagh Patrick has been a greatly venerated pilgrimage site for Catholics, but the religious significance of Croagh Patrick goes back long before the days of Saint Patrick. In fact, the history and religious significance of Croagh Patrick goes back over five thousand years, to the stone age. This mountain was considered sacred by the pagan Irish, who would gather here to celebrate the harvest. Today, the mountain is still considered holy and is frequented by pilgrims. Every year, Croagh Patrick attracts about one million visitors overall. Croagh Patrick is often visited not just by pilgrims, but also hikers, nature lovers, and archaeologists. Atop the mountain is a chapel where the travelers conclude their pilgrimage, and mass is celebrated.

Whether one travels to Westport to escape from the modern world and enjoy the beauty and serenity of rugged Ireland, visit holy sites, or see a prestigious estate filled with history, Westport is a town sure to touch the hearts of those who visit it. Westport has for a long time been a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. There are numerous sites to see and things to do in Westport, and one is guaranteed to have a good time there.    

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