Westport House in Westport, County Mayo, is a great example for an Irish
big house, and is not to be missed when visiting the West.
The big house is set in an adventure park which attracts huge visitor
numbers every year. As well as a visit to the house, you can partake in various activities
such as pitch and putt, boat rides, slides, zip wire and more.
house itself has around thirty rooms open to the public which are
furnished in period style and populated by wax figurines. It is
fascinating to see the wealth and style the aristocratic owners of big
houses lived in. There is a large collection of valuable paintings displayed throughout the house.
To entertain the youngest there is a series of
distorting mirrors and the basement features a dungeon with the model of
a skeleton in chains- a fascinating sight for kids of course.
Westport House is very well signposted. Make your way to Westport and simply look out for signs.
The house itself features a Victorian kitchen turned into a coffee shop.
There are public toilets. The house is not wheelchair accessible, and
buggies have to be parked at the entrance. The park has a lot of
facilities such as a restaurant, pub, and even a campsite.
If you don't want to take in the adventure park, the house visit can be
paid for seperately and came in at 12 Euros per adult in 2013.
Otherwise, if you are buying a full day pass, the house visit will be
included alongside all the activities in the park. If you are a fan of adventure parks, consider the membership option that gives year round access.
Historic Westport House is beautifully looked after by the owners and
is an Irish heritage site really worth seeing. The house is unique in that its upkeep has been
largely financed by the owning family themselves by running the estate as a successful business since the 1960ies.
dungeon, funny mirrors and some other features might not please the
castle enthusiast- they are a matter of taste. But leaving that aside,
the house is a cultural heritage gem and a must for enthusists of historic houses.
The house is owned by the aristocratic Browne family who still live on
site, but not in the big house itself. They are involved in the running
of the adventure park and campsite.
Here is a unique piece of Irish history associated with Westport House: the Browne family are descended
from Grace O'Malley (1530-1603), the famous West of Ireland pirate
queen, respected arch enemy of Queen Elizabeth I.
great-granddaughter Maud Burke married into the Browne family. The Browne family have
commissioned a statue of the priate queen in the park. There is an
exhibition in her honour in the basement of the house where the original
16th century foundations are still in place.
the existing mansion which goes back to the early 18th century, two
previous unfortified houses had been built on the site.
Sculpture of Grace O'Malley, the celebrated priate queen.
If you don't like the hustle and bustle of the adventure park (we
don't), just buy a ticket to the house and nothing else. There is a
coffee shop at the house where you can stop for a snack.
Be prepared for a ten minute walk from the car park to the ticket office, and from there to the house.
If you are bringing a baby, a baby carrier is a good thing to bring as the house can not be accessed with a buggy.
If you want to see another stunning big house of the same era and you
are heading for Dublin, Strokestown Park House is a 1.5 hour drive from
here along the N5 Dublin road.
Places to visit nearby:Check out the heritage village of Aghagower 8 km from Westport which features an impressive early Christian monastic site.
The town of Westport is a lovely
place to explore. The town is full of quaint shops and has lovely cafes
and restaurants to stop for food.If you are lucky you might even catch Matt Molloy playing a tune in his pub up town.
If you drive from Westport to Louisburgh, there are a few stunning beaches on the way, most notably Bertra beach.If you are in the area for more than a day, consider climbing the holy mountain of the West- Croagh Patrick.
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Copyright 2014 by Colm Sweeney and Susanna Lambeck www.enjoy-irish-culture.com