This year’s “See the World” series is getting close to the finish line. Guest authors have shared favorite cities around the world from Bermuda to Nashville and many destinations in between. Last week we visited Vienna, Austria, and Utrecht, Netherlands the week before. If you’ve missed any of the cities, you can find them here! This week we are heading to Westport, County Mayo, Ireland with one of the foremost experts in family travel to Ireland, Jody of Ireland Family Vacations! Come see her favorite family friendly things to do in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland.
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About two hours north of the invisible line between Dublin and Galway, the town of Westport in County Mayo is often overlooked by tourists. But it only takes a single visit to fall in love with this town along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Uncover the Legend of Ireland’s Pirate Queen
During a time when clan rule passed between fathers and sons, Grace O’Malley’s leadership of men on both land and sea is legendary. A fierce warrior, dread pirate, and brilliant military strategist, Granuaile survived the dungeon of Dublin Castle, attacks by the English Army, and even sailed to England to meet Queen Elizabeth I face-to-face (a dangerous prospect when one is charged with treason)! Many of the Pirate Queen’s castles still stand in the inlets and islands around Clew Bay, each with a tale for the visitor willing to search it out.
Explore Westport House
Westport House has seen many expansions and improvements since it was first built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke–who just happened to be one of the Pirate Queen’s great-great-granddaughters! In fact, one of Grace O’Malley’s many castles can still be discovered in the dungeons below Westport House!
This house remained in the Browne family until recently and over 30 rooms are open to visitors- and just as they have appeared through the history of the house. The grounds of Westport House include a Pirate Adventure Park, Birds of Prey centre, and Adventure Activities including archery and orienteering.
Climb Croagh Patrick (or not!)
In 441 AD St. Patrick is said to have climbed this mountain and fasted for forty days. While today’s climbers are greeted by a modern chapel at the summit, the hike to the top can be strenuous and is not for everyone. If you choose to ascend the Holy Mountain do rent walking sticks from the visitor centre and plan at least 3 hours for your climb.
Cycle the Great Western Greenway
Stretching 43 km from Achill Island to Westport, the Great Western Greenway is a perfect activity on a fine Irish day. You can choose to ride the entire route, or just a small portion of it. A rail-to-trail initiative, the greenway offers riders a (mostly) easy ride across through some of Ireland’s most beautiful natural landscapes. I recommend Clew Bay Bike Hire for your cycle rental. They can even arrange a cycle and kayak experience!
Immerse Yourself in Irish Music
The town of Westport boasts 52 pub licenses- for a town of 5000 people that’s quite a number! But it means you will likely find live music every night of the week.
The pub, or Public House, is a place where all are welcome, so bring the kids, order some drinks, maybe a bit of dinner, and immerse yourself in Irish pub culture.
I hope this wee glimpse of Westport has you considering a detour from the tourist trail when you plan your Ireland vacation!
Jody Halsted has been traveling across Ireland for over a decade with her own children, discovering the most family friendly sites and activities on the tourist trail and off. Dedicated to Ireland family travel, her website Ireland Family Vacations, provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation.
For families looking for a perfectly tailored Ireland vacation, Jody offers Ireland vacation coaching, working with your family to help you choose the perfect lodging, destinations, and activities to fit your budget, interests, and expectations.