Westport House

A Visit to Westport House

If you’re a fan of pirates and tales of swashbuckling adventures, you will have no doubt heard of fearsome Irish pirate queen Grace O’Malley AKA Granuaile. You can imagine my excitement so when I learned her ancestral home was in Clew Bay in County Mayo and that she had links to Westport House. We were in the area and it went straight to the top of my must-see list!

Grace O'Malley Statue
A statue of the fearsome pirate queen Grace O’Malley also known as Gráinne Mhaol or Granuaile

Where is Westport House?

Westport House is just outside the town of Westport in Co Mayo. It’s right at the mouth of the Carrowbeg River which opens out onto Clew Bay. It’s apparently where the best oysters in Ireland come from. I don’t like oysters so I can’t confirm that. You can get to Westport by taking the N5 from Castlebar or the N84 from Galway. It’s not too far from Ireland West Knock Airport. The Wild Atlantic Way goes right through Westport. We visited after spending some time at the National Museum of Ireland: Country Life near Castlebar.

What is Westport House about?

The current Westport House is a palladian mansion finished in around 1731 and was the family seat of the Marquess of Sligo. The house was built on the site of the O’Malley castle and Maud Bourke who was the great-great-granddaughter of Grace O’Malley was one of its first occupants.

The estate is pretty big with accommodation and various things to do. As well as the house, there’s also an adventure park which has recently moved away from mechanical and fairground rides to more nature based activities!

Westport Adventure
The new Westport Adventure is now open and we’re really excited to visiting again to try it out!

What’s in Westport House?

We’d a great time exploring Westport House, seeing how the grander half lived back in the old days. There’s some interesting stories about the famine and the Browne family who lived in the house throughout the years. The history is really brought to life and you can either take a guided tour or explore on your own. You really get a comprehensive understanding of the cultural and historical significance of the estate.

The house contains opulent rooms, antique furniture and a variety of period décor that reflect its long history. There’s lots of rooms laid out as they had looked during the peak of Westport House. You can visit the bedrooms, the dining rooms, the library, even the wine cellar and dungeon! We enjoyed looking around and getting to know about how the house operated in the past. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey or Bridgerton, you’ll love it.

Dining Room in Westport House
The Dining Room in Westport House gives you an idea of how the grander half lived!

The estate features extensive gardens and grounds, including landscaped gardens, wooded areas, and walking trails. The gardens are a blend of formal and informal designs, providing a picturesque setting for nice leisurely strolls.

The estate is also home to Westport Adventure, a new adventure park which opened for 2024. It has a zipline, aerial trekking, a climbing wall, Ireland’s biggest net park and loads more. They’ve really put the effort in to move away from the mechanical rides that were there before and it’s a huge improvement in my opinion.

If you’re looking to extend their visit, Westport House has accommodation options too including a caravan and camping park. Staying on the estate lets you fully immerse themselves in the amazing setting of the estate. There’s also glamping pods and the Hotel Westport which also has a spa. The hotel is also home to Gracy’s Pizzeria, Bar & Bistro where I’m told the food is really top notch.

The Verdict on Westport House

We really enjoyed our visit to Westport House. It was great to not only be able to learn about the history of the house and the estate but to see it as well. It was great seeing the connection that Westport House has to Grace O’Malley and it’s not hard to see how Clew Bay gave rise to one of the world’s most infamous pirates!

A visit to Westport House is well worth it, whether it’s history or adventure or whether you’re young or old.

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