Walk 41: Westport Town Centre: Never expected to see an Elephant in Ireland

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 4 miles (6.44km)

Time to walk: There’s no time limit put on this walk as it’s very much stop & look, visit one of numerous pubs / cafes &, if it’s sunny, sit by the sea

Difficulty: Easy & all on hard surfaces

Parking: Park on street, or in one of the public car parks. Beware though, Westport is a real traffic bottle-neck so nipping backwards & forwards over the roads can be tricky

Public toilets: Pubs / cafes etc or public ones at the waterfront

Map of the route: 

map

Westport is the third largest town in Mayo & has been voted ‘the best place to live in Ireland’

Located in the West of Ireland, the earliest settled habitation in the area was approximately 5000 years ago. In the 16th century Westport, or Cathair na Mart as it is known in the Irish language, was an important stronghold for the O’Malley Clan. An infamous Pirate Queen called Grace O’Malley held control of the fortress in Westport as well as many other sites along the shores of Clew Bay

It’s dominated by Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick, which we’ll see later

Today’s town is beautiful, lively, colourful & fun with plenty to see & do so…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts at the very top of the High Street which is one of the highest points in the town & gives an excellent view to the mountains in the distance…

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The street on the left’s a fine example of how colourful this town is…

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2. Head down the High Street…

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…passing an attractive old water pump with a very new addition!

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3. Nearing the town centre three roads converge at a very busy junction & the bars & restaurants / cafes are numerous along each…

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…including the fabulous ‘Sage’. If ever you’re in Westport you have to grab a table here – probably one of the best dining experiences we’ve had & so reasonable. Tip – go for the early-bird at 6pm. It’s the same menu as normal but 3 courses for 22 Euros – fantastic value!

Duck

Sweet

4. County Mayo was in sporting finals when we were there & flags showing support were everywhere…

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…& eventually we arrive at the clock square…

You can see the traffic

You can see the traffic

Beautiful square

Beautiful square

5. Turn immediately right down Mill Street (which heads towards where the old Mill once was!)

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There’s more local businesses along this street such as butchers & B&B’s including ‘The Elephant’ where we stayed…

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DSC014236. Pass by the uninviting bus station & turn left towards Fair Green – look out for the drinking fountain…

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On the left’s the local Garda…

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7. Dr Johnston’s Fountain is an impressive structure…

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After it head for the river crossing South Mall & then the bridge into North Mall…

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It’s a beautiful part of the town…

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..with some eclectic shops

Interesting!

Interesting!

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8. This is the Carrowbeg River, well known for its brown trout. We’re going to head up North Mall & back down South Mall. There’s some fine Georgian properties along here including the old Bank…

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…along with flowers everywhere!

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9. At the end of this section of North Mall’s a fine establishment…John J O’Grady’s…

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But no time to stop…straight over into the next stretch of North Mall – the second bridge is here which leads into Bridge Steet which we’ll have a look at in a bit

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10. Continue along this next stretch towards the final bridge…

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This one crosses James Street & is probably the prettiest, although it’s hard to decide…

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11. Now here’s the boring bit…we’re going to cross this bridge & have a short stroll back in the other direction along South Mall…

We told you the traffic was bad!

We told you the traffic was bad!

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12. So what can we find along here? The large building above looks interesting so let’s cross over carefully & have a look…

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This is St Mary’s Church & it’s well worth a look inside…

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13. Done? And feeling brave? Then there’s an interesting statue over the road…

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This is Sean Mac Giolla Bride – have a look at the link

14. We told you we’d be heading up Bridge Street so turn right here – Oi! What’s it with the rain?

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The pub / restaurant on the right (The West) is worth a visit if you want cheap, honest, good Irish pub food – the roast beef with mash was pdg!

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15. Come on you haven’t got time to eat & drink, Bridge Street’s probably got the largest numbers of shops & bars so you’re going to be jumping across the street to explore them all – let’s go!

More traffic!

More traffic!

Bars

Books

And bars

And bars

And maybe an unusual one or two…

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16. We have £ shops in England. Let’s hope the exchange rate’s good!

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It’s bar time now & two of the best..The Porterhouse

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…& the (best) great Matt Malloy’s

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So…who is this Matt Molloy?

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Matt Molloy, born 12 January 1947, is an Irish musician, from a region known for producing talented flautists. As a child, he began playing the flute & won the All-Ireland Flute Championship at only nineteen years old. Considered as one of the most brilliant Irish musicians, his style adapts piping techniques to the flute & has influenced many contemporary Irish flute players

During the 1970s, Molloy was a member of The Bothy Band & its successor, the re-founded Planxty.

He joined the famous The Chieftains in 1979, replacing Michael Tubridy. Over the course of his career, Molloy has worked with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Paul Brady, Tommy Peoples, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin & Dónal Lunny

You’re guaranteed to get some good craic here every night of the week!

FRom the barrels below t’was a good night last night…

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17. Cross over the road if you fancy something sweeter…

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…before we’re back at the clock!

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On the corner’s a great shop – Thomas Moran’s. Go inside & indulge…

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18. Enough of all these bargains – let’s turn right down the wonderfully named ‘Shop Street’ to The Octagon which is the centre of Westport…

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Standing against the monument this is one of our favourite memories of our Ireland trip as it just had so many fantastic buildings, colours & flowers around it – fabulous!

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19. On the right’s the town hall & theatre

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Cross the road & walk round The Octagon…it’s a beautiful & very colourful place

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Looks like the old Town Hall

Looks like the old Town Hall

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The above hotel must be a Northampton Football Club fan – look at the name of its bar…

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The owners are full of the Irish wit!

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20. Head up the side of The Cobblers Bar & take a sharp right turn at McCarthy’s Bar…

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We couldn't see any information regards this statue

We couldn’t see any information regards this statue

Loved seeing a McCarthy’s Bar as it reminds us of one of the funniest books we’ve ever read (see this link)…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/McCarthys-Bar-Journey-Discovery-Ireland/dp/0340766050
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The book makes us laugh because he’s in search of the best Singapore Noodles ever,  which is also a personal quest!

21. Instead of passing the Bar turn right down Church Street…

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This is the main entrance into the grounds containing one of the town’s main attractions, Westport House…

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Westport House was the ancestral seat of the Marquesses of Sligo up until July 2014. It was built by the Browne family in the 18th Century near the site of an O’Malley castle. The architects were Richard Cassels & later James Wyatt. Later the quadrangle was filled in with a grand staircase

We didn’t have time to visit, so here’s a picture from the web

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Colonel John Browne who built the original Westport House married Gráinne O’Malley’s great, great granddaughter, Maude Burke. He was a Roman Catholic who fought on the Jacobite side in the War of the Two Kings. His descendants, however, converted to the established Church of Ireland

After the death of The 11th Marquess of Sligo in July 2014, the house passed to his five daughters, in accordance with private legislation passed by the Seanad in 1993

22. Anyway what’s more important in this household is there’s a mini train & the rule in this household is mini trains must be ridden (not really!)

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Come on…back up the hill

Come on…back up the hill

23. Before we head up Quay Street take a look back down to The Octagon – it’s a fab view

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Now it’s time, as Quay Street suggests, to go & explore Westport’s Quay so best foot forward up the hill…

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24. There’s the first view of the Bay…

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Pass the hotel &, over the road’s a kind of grotto but we couldn’t find more information about it

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25. The road now bends towards the quay…

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If you fancy walking down to the end you can, but today it was a little bit blowy & showery…

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26. So turn left along the row of shops, hotels etc…

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So let’s have a look where we are…

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27. If you’re finding this walk a bit too much you can always grab a bike…

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…but only if you can dislodge the screws. Not managed it? Then let’s have a look along the front…

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28. Know what? The shops, galleries etc along here were quite disappointing. Maybe though because we had a camera & were looking at how we could get some good pictures of Crough Patrick

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29. Now then…the pub over the road was closed, but we spied they had broken tables & chairs in the garden overlooking the estuary & Crough Patrick so what did we do…yes stand on a table to get a good picci

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It’s a shame this pub’s closed as it’s a great place to sit & watch the world go by

30. Hey ho…continue to follow the road round the bay

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Must be a recent closure

Must be a recent closure

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31. There’s plenty of well looked-after properties along here…

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Ever had the impression you’re being watched though!

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32. It was at this point that a motorbike rally came round the corner – there must have been over 100 & it went on for 10 minutes!

Click on the link below to see – it’s a bit dark though

33. As the road bends right turn left into the school yard, looking for the footpath sign showing the way back to the town centre…

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We’re now on the Westport Greenway (also known as the Old Railway Line)

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34. It’s a flat & very pleasant way to get back to the town & there’s lots of information boards about birds etc en route…

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Plus a fabulous Insect Hotel

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35. We had to quicken the pace as another shower was coming through

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The path now runs through a cutting…

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.after which we take a left up the smaller path to reach the top of the High Street where we began this walk

So that’s our first proper walk of the Ireland 2015 trip. Westport & County Mayo are both a fantastic part of the world

Now…it must be Guinness Time!

Go Walk!