- For other places with the same name, see Westport
Westport is an attractive town in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, with a population of 6198 in 2016. It was originally Cathair na Mart, "town of the beef cattle", a cattle-mart and trading port in an era when it was much easier to get around by sea than overland. That settlement was swept aside in 1780 to make way for Westport House and its grounds. A new planned town was laid out along the banks of the Carrowbeg River, and has been well-preserved since that time.
The town has grown into a tourist resort - the TIC is on Bridge St. Westport is the main base for exploring southwest Mayo and the islands of Clew Bay (141 of them at the latest count). Their attractions are therefore described on this page. The area is mobbed on "Reek Sunday" at the end of July, when thousands of pilgrims ascend the mountain of Croagh Patrick.
Knock (NOC IATA) is the nearest airport but has few flights, see below for the occasional Bus 440. Consider flying into Dublin or Shannon then hiring a car, which you're going to need to tour the county.
Trains from Dublin Heuston take about 3 hr 30 min to Westport. On the morning service you usually take the train for Galway and change at Athlone, later in the day three direct trains run via Portarlington, Tullamore, Clara, Athlone, Roscommon, Castlerea, Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, Manulla Junction and Castlebar. See Irish Rail for timetables and fares.
There are also three connections per day between Westport and Ballina, changing at Manulla Junction for a journey of around an hour.
The 1 railway station is 500 m southwest of town on R330 Altamount St.
There is no direct bus from Dublin. Bus 456 runs five times a day from Galway, inland via Headford, Shrule and Ballinrobe, taking 1 hr 40 min to Westport and continuing to Castlebar. There isn't a bus station in Westport, the main bus stop is on Mill St.
- Walk in town: from the centre to the Point of the Quay is 2 km. But you need wheels for most outlying sights.
- Bus 450 follows the coast, from Dooagh near the west tip of Achill island, via Doogort and Achill Sound to the mainland, then Mulrany, Newport and Westport, then onward to Murrisk and Louisburgh; it doesn't continue to Roonagh pier. It runs M-Sa every 2-3 hours, with only three on Sunday.
- Westport Bike Hire on James St is open daily 09:00-18:00.
- Ferries to Clare Island sail from Roonagh 7 km west of Louisburgh. They sail daily year-round, and frequently in summer. The crossing takes 25 min, foot passengers only, adult return €17 return. The operators are O'Malley Ferries, and Clare Island (aka O'Grady's) Ferry who have a bus connection from Westport for their first and last sailing. You must book this the day before on +353 98 23737 or +353 87 900 4115.
- To Inishturk take the O'Malley ferry from Roonagh, a 40 min crossing, €34 adult return. They sail daily year-round.
- 1 Westport House, Quay Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Apr-Sept. This fine Georgian mansion was designed by Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century, It's set in parkland overlooking Clew Bay. It also contains a pirate-theme play park, separately ticketed. Adult House €13, theme park €25.
- Clew Bay Heritage Centre is a tiny museum on Roman Island, open Mar-Oct, in a building once used for holding live pigs before transport. The island, now a promontory of the Quay, was a busy industrial port during the boom years, but now has forlorn industrial remnants. The Point of the promontory is a good spot for seeing birdlife and otters.
- Clew Bay is a beautiful bay dotted with small islands - there are 141 named islands and outcrops, which you see more of further north towards Newport. They're drumlins, mounds of gravel deposited by glaciers. (There's a swathe of them right across Ireland where the last glaciation halted: on land, eg in County Cavan, they create a "basket-of-eggs" landscape.) Most are uninhabited, several have private dwellings; boat trips go out from Westport harbour. To view from the mainland either take the south shore road towards Louisburgh and Roonagh, or the north shore road towards Achill Island.
- 2 Murrisk is a village 8 km west of Westport. It's at the foot of the trail up Croagh Patrick, with a large car park for walkers. A spectral sculpture evokes the "famine ships" of the 1840s. The Augustinian abbey, founded 1457, is a scrappy ruin on the shore.
- 3 Croagh Patrick is a peak of 764m / 2507 ft, rising abruptly from a U-shaped glaciated valley. Croagh means "stack" and it's a place of pilgrimage, as in legend St Patrick fasted for forty days on the summit in 441 AD, and from there sent greetings to the newly appointed Pope Leo I. Certainly there's been a chapel dubbed "Teampall Phádraig" at the summit since that century; there may have been pagan rites before then. The present summit chapel was built in 1905. The path from Murrisk is a well-worn 7 km trail up steep scree, reckon 2 hr 30 min up and 90 min back. On the last Sunday in July, Reek Sunday, some 15-30,000 pilgrims climb the peak, at a genteel pace as they're led by the Archbishop of Tuam, he always knew that long crook stick would come in handy. Some pilgrims begin as far away as Balintubber Abbey, following a 30 km trail, and may come barefoot. At least they don't risk snakebite as it's from this mountain that St Patrick is supposed to have banished snakes from Ireland when they slithered across his devotions. (He picked a good country to banish them from, as post-glacial Ireland never did have snakes.) Gold was discovered in the mountain in the 1980s, in commercially workable veins, but mining was not permitted.
- 4 Louisburgh, 20 km west of Westport, has long sandy beaches and B&Bs. It's a planned town, built in 1795 by the Marquess of Sligo to house Catholics fleeing sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, and named for the Battle of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The Grace O'Malley Museum is occasionally open. Just south of the village, turn off R378 to Roonagh pier, for ferries to Clare Island and Inishturk. Or follow R335 into the hills, a scenic route to Delphi and Leenane.
- And see Leenane for the south end of the county, such as Delphi Valley. Mweelrea however is easier to reach by the coast lane south of Louisburgh.
- 5 Clare Island at the entrance to Clew Bay is some 5 km long by 3 km wide. It's inhabited and reached by ferry from Roonagh, see Get Around. The medieval tower house, now just a teetering shell, was the abode of Grace or Gráinne O'Malley (1530-1603), mythologised as a "Pirate Queen". (That just meant she was an independent landowner beyond London authority, and got around by sea - imagine the roads in Mayo in the 16th century? When she visited Queen Elizabeth I, she was richly gowned, and they conversed in Latin.) She's probably among the many O'Malleys buried at the island's abbey, St Brigid's, built 12th / 13th century. It's Cistercian and has ceiling and wall paintings. The lighthouse on the north tip of the island is now a guesthouse, and there's also a hostel, and self-catering by the landing pier.
- 6 Inishturk: beware, there are three hereabouts. This one is inhabited and is reached by ferry from Roonagh, or less often from Cleggan. There's an Napoleon-era signal tower, accommodation, and a lane which soon circles you back to your starting point. Inis Toirc means "wild boar island": Inishturk Beg is a privately-owned islet in Clew Bay, while Inishturk South is uninhabited and is just off the Galway coast near Clifden.
- 7 Caher Island near Inishturk is uninhabited and doesn't have a ferry service. Boat trips sometimes visit for the ancient monastery, and there's a pilgrimage on 15 Aug, the Feast of the Assumption.
- 8 Inishbofin Island seen to the southwest is in County Galway and is reached by ferry from Cleggan northwest of Clifden. It was historically in County Mayo, but re-assigned to Galway in the famine years the better to organise relief. A place too poor to be in Mayo, imagine.
- W Cinema is in town centre off James St.
- Golf: Westport Golf Club is 2 km northwest of town along Golf Course Rd past Westport House. White tees 6773 yards, par 73, visitor round €35.
- Westport Leisure Park is off James St in town centre. There's a pool, gym and fitness classes, and you can pay-as-you-go without membership.
- Boat trips: Westport Cruises sail around the islets of Clew Bay.
- Fishing: several boat operators on the Quay run sea-angling trips.
- Great Western Greenway is a cycling and walking route, 42 km from Westport to Newport, Mulranny and Achill Island. A preliminary leg, "Westport Town Greenway", starts at The Quay and loops south edge of town to N5 Castlebar Rd. A short on-road leg traverses a housing estate then you pick up the definitive trail, an easy 11 km to Newport along the trackbed of the old Great Western Railway. There's a separate section around Castlebar to the east, but this is mostly on public roads.
- Horse-riding: Carrowholly Stables, northwest of town beyond the golf course, offers treks and lessons.
- Summer SUP do stand-up paddle boarding, with lessons and kit hire. They're on the coast at Oldhead near Louisburg and open daily.
- The Wild Atlantic Way is a long-distance motoring and cycling route along the western seaboard. The local section is self-evident: southbound from Achill Island round the shores of Clew Bay to Newport and Westport, then to Louisburgh, Roonagh for the islands if time allows, south to Cloonamanagh, then back-track to re-join the Delphi Valley road to Killary Fjord and Leenane.
- Féile Chois Cuain is a trad music festival held on the early May public holiday in Louisburgh. The next event is 29 Apr - 2 May 2022, tbc.
- Westport Horse & Pony Show is held at Drumindoo Stud, 1 km east of town along N5. It's usually the first weekend in June with the next on 4-5 June 2022, tbc.
- Sea Angling Festival is in late June, fishing from boats or shore. The next event is 25-27 June 2021, with the shore-angling competition on W 23 June.
- Seafood Festival is nowadays in September, with the next on 4 Sept 2021.
- Westival is an arts, music and literature festival in October. The next is 20-25 Oct 2021.
- Bike hire: Paddy & Nelly Bike Hire offers regular and electric bike hire around Westport and for the wider Western Greenway.
- Westpoint Shopping Centre is on Altamount St opposite the railway station, with a Tesco open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 10:00-21:00.
- Farmers Market is off James St, Westport Th 08:30-13:00 and Market Square in Louisburgh F 09:00-15:00.
- Curry's Cottage is a bakery and tea-shop on James St, open Tu-Sa 09:00-18:00.
- The Clock Tavern, High St, ☏ . M-F 18:00-23:00, Sa Su 14:00-23:00. Central pub has decent meals and live music most F-Su nights.
- La Bella Vita, High St, ☏ . Tu-Su 17:00-22:00. A little gem of an Italian bistro in town centre.
- The Helm, The Quay, ☏ . Food daily 08:00-10:30, 12:00-17:00, 18:00-21:30. Friendly bar and restaurant on The Quay, also has rooms. B&B double €90.
- Towers, The Quay F28 V650, ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:30. The Tower is the turret of the former coastguard station. Good pub grub, eat indoors or out.
- Cronin's Sheebeen, Rosbeg F28 VK70, ☏ . W-Su 17:00-00:00. Thatched pub and restaurant on waterside south of the harbour, does good seafood.
- The Creel Restaurant, The Quay, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Cafe-restaurant with daily specials and home-cooked desserts & cakes. The Seafood Chowder is a good pick; limited vegetarian choices.
- See Sleep for Castlecourt Hotel.
- JJ O'Malleys at the top of Bridge St is a trad pub with restaurant.
- Matt Malloy's, Bridge St, ☏ . Gets really busy for the nightly trad music sessions, get there early. Owned by Matt Molloy of the Chieftains.
- Others in town centre are Jester Bar, Henehan's, The Old Grain Store, Walsh's, Blouser's and An File.
- Brewery: Mescan Brewery was set up by discontented veterinary surgeons, what's the collective noun for that? "A spaying of - "? They offer tours, if you can find them up the back lane west side of Croagh Patrick, at Kilsallagh F28 FW70.
- Distillery: Lough Mask Distillery produces gin, vodka and whiskey; tours are available. It's south of Tourmakeady along R300 the west lakeshore road.
- Westport House Camping & Caravan Park is within the grounds of Westport House. Open Apr-Aug, assistance dogs only July-Aug. Tent / tourer pitch €30.
- 1 Glenderan B&B, Ardmore, Rosbeg F28 D236 (3 km southwest of town), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Smart B&B open May-Sept. No pets. B&B double €60.
- Ardmore Country House Hotel is in Rosbeg near Glenderan B&B.
- 2 Westport Woods Hotel, Quay Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Pleasant location, friendly, but the place is run down and service is demoralised. B&B double €100.
- 3 Westport Coast Hotel, The Quay F28 X8H2, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Pleasant hotel on quayside, great views from top floor restaurant. They also have self-catering apartments. B&B double €150.
- 4 Hotel Westport, Newport Rd F28 E438, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Good mid-range hotel a short walk to centre, with pool & leisure centre. Wheelchair friendly. B&B double €120.
- 5 Castlecourt Hotel, Castlebar St F28 X8F2, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Upscale hotel near town centre, with 140 bedrooms, spa, pool and leisure centre. Gets great reviews for comfort and service. B&B double €160.
- 6 Wyatt Hotel, The Octagon, ☏ . Great value charming little hotel in town centre. Free parking, wifi, four rooms are dog-friendly. B&B double €100.
- 7 Clew Bay Hotel, James St, ☏ . Good friendly little central hotel. No parking, use public parking for €3 a day. B&B double €90.
- McCarthy's Lodge is above the bar at the foot of Quay St. Some pub noise but it's clean and comfy.
- 8 Old Mill Hostel, Barracks Yard, James St F28 VX58, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Pleasant hostel in converted mill in town centre, clean and welcoming. Large mixed dorms, smaller male and female dorms and private rooms. Free Wi-Fi. Dorm €20.
- 9 Knockranny House Hotel, Knockranny F28 X340, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Relaxing efficient hotel east side of centre. With pool, spa and good restaurant. B&B double €150.
- 10 Westport Country Lodge, Aughagower F28 P642 (Off R330 five km east of town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Smart hotel in 36 acres of mature landscape. B&B double €110.
As of Feb 2021, Westport has 5G from Eir and Three. Vodafone has a 4G signal in town centre but poor coverage further out.
- Newport 11 km north has a fine Georgian mansion. Head that way to reach Achill Island and the coast further north.
- Castlebar the county town has a couple of abbeys.
- Leenane is where the scenery changes as you pass the fjord into Connemara.