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Why an Ireland Travel Plan Should Include Westport

Even in February, Westport was lovely from mountains to bay.

Westport, Ireland was lovely, even during February.

Ireland has countless cute towns, so the fact that Westport in County Mayo was voted the best place to live in the entire country in 2012 holds major clout. Besides being deliciously livable, Westport is also an excellent place to visit, given its wide variety of historic, natural, and doggone charming attractions.
Biking with baby on the Great Western Greenway of Westport, Ireland.

Biking with baby on the Great Western Greenway in Westport.

To begin to understand why people adore Westport, one must first look at the geography. Westport is nestled between mountains and an ocean inlet, providing fabulous scenery. The town itself is delightful, and a 42-kilometer bike path called the Great Western Greenway snakes through the town and over the rolling green hills.

Westport House has a wonderful entryway.

Westport House has a glorious entryway.

One of the most surprising yet fulfilling tourist attractions in Westport is Westport House: a historic mansion plus… wait for it… a pirate-themed amusement park. As we were touring the grounds, I had to ask our guide: “WHY this combination?”

Westport House, like all of Westport, has fun for kids and adults alike.

Westport House, like all of Westport, has fun for kids and adults alike.

The answer, which our guide kindly explained, is ingenious. Historic mansions are expensive to keep up, and it’s difficult to attract enough visitors to cover costs. For this reason, the owners of Westport House decided to save it by building the Pirate Adventure park on its grounds, thus turning it into an exciting family destination!

The grand dining room of Westport House.

The grand dining room of Westport House.

Why the pirate theme? I love this answer. Westport House was built in 1730 by the Browne family, who are direct descendants of the 16th century pirate queen, Grainne O’Malley! I had never heard of the dread Ms. O’Malley, but I’m now eager to learn more. I’m also now highly eager to come back to Westport House and go on the Pirates’ Plunge Flume Ride! (Sorry I couldn’t get photos of the amusement part — it was closed for winter since we visited in February.)

A statue of the 16th-century Pirate Queen Gráinne O'Malley.

A statue of the 16th-century Pirate Queen Gráinne O’Malley.

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of beautiful architecture, so let us pause the words for a moment to savor more photos of Westport House.

Wow... Westport House knows how to do pretty rooms.

Wow… Westport House knows how to do pretty rooms.

Our baby was entranced by the colors of Westport House.

Our baby was entranced by the colors of Westport House.

This feminine room was one of my favorites.

This feminine room was one of my favorites.

Love this sky ceiling at Westport House.

Love this sky ceiling at Westport House.

Does your dining room look like this? Hehe.

Does your dining room look like this? Oh my.

The chandeliers in the house are lovely.

This house excels at chandeliers.

So what about the best place to stay in Westport? We LOVED our time at Knockranny House Hotel (click for availability and rates), which perches on a serene hill above the town. Doesn’t it look magical in this photo?

Everything about Knockranny House Hotel is splendid.

Everything about Knockranny House Hotel is splendid.

Knockranny House Hotel is known for its incredible food, impeccable service, and luxurious amenities. I wish I could show you a photo of the grand indoor swimming pool and spa, but I couldn’t bring my camera in there for fear of getting it splashed. Instead, I will attempt to convey how much we enjoyed our time at the hotel with Devi’s smile during our multi-part, scrumptious breakfast.

The food and service at Knockranny House Hotel made us so happy!

The food and service at Knockranny House Hotel made us so happy!

The energy Knockranny House exudes is like a strong, warm embrace. The hotel is large, with plush, soft carpets, dark wood, and jewel-toned decor. It feels both luxurious and welcoming. We could have happily stayed there for weeks!

The inviting main lobby of Knockranny House Hotel.

The inviting main lobby of Knockranny House Hotel.

What really blew us away, however, was our hotel room. There is no picture of the bedroom of our suite, because it was literally too big to fit in my camera frame, boasting two large beds, comfortable chairs, a flat-screen TV, and on and on. I will, however, show you the bathroom for our hotel room in the photo below. Can you believe the size??? The toilet is on the left out of the frame, and the shower is right in front of it. Zowie!

Our hotel room was gorgeous... and look how big the bathroom is!

Our hotel room was gorgeous… and look how big the bathroom is!

Sure, Knockranny House Hotel has won oodles of awards — from Best Four Star Hotel in Ireland, to AA Hotel of the Year, to Best Hotel Restaurant in Ireland — but there is one more award I would like to bestow: Best Dainty Toast Holder. Look at this photo below and tell me: who would not be enraptured by this silvery piece of brilliance? 100% of our toasts remained crisp during breakfast.

Have you ever seen a toast holder like this?

Have you ever seen a toast holder like this?

Here’s another must-do attraction of Westport, Ireland: the 42-kilometer Great Western Greenway bike path goes right through town! Colin, Devi, and I rented a bike with a cute baby trailer from the kind folks at Clew Bay Bike Hire, and took to the hills on our new wheels. Let it be noted that bicycling in Ireland in winter (February, in our case) is a lot more comfortable with gloves and a jacket, so if Colin looks a little icy in the photo below, you’ll realize what we forgot to bring.

We were really impressed by the bike path in Westport.

We were really impressed by the bike path in Westport, though we should have brought gloves!

Let us return to the title of this article: Why Westport is a great addition to an Ireland road trip like ours. It’s not just that Westport is livable and has fabulous things to do — it’s also in an ideal geographic position near the middle of the island. The Cliffs of Moher are 2.5 hours away, Dublin is 3 hours, the Burren is 2 hours, and Kylemore Abbey and the Dan O’Hara Homestead in Connemara are about an hour drive each. The coolest thing, however, is that Westport is right on the rainbow-filled Wild Atlantic Way — the stunning sea-side highway that stretches over 1,500 up the west coast of Ireland.

The decor of Knockranny House Hotel is like a warm embrace.

The decor of Knockranny House Hotel is like a warm embrace.

Four years ago I made a list of the best places around the world to move to and live, and Westport will certainly make the new edition of this list, given all it has to offer! I’m sorry I didn’t snap more photos of the adorable town itself, which features charming architecture and yummy cafes, but I suppose you’ll just have to go explore Westport for yourself to see it all!

Thanks for a wonderful visit, Westport!

Thanks for a wonderful visit, Westport!

So what about you? Have you been to Westport before? Does it seem like a place you would like to visit? Which of these activities or sights most entice you? Do share!

Enjoy this article and still planning your trip? Click here for an easy link to Westport, Ireland hotels, here for cheap flights to Ireland, and here for deals on Ireland rental cars, as it will give a small commission to help support this site at no cost to you. Happy travels!

We were hosted by Tourism Ireland, but all opinions and dreams of dainty toast holders are my own.

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Cathy Sweeney

Wednesday 17th of June 2015

I'm also a fan of beautiful architecture and would love to see Westport House. On our driving trip through Ireland several years ago, we only passed through County Mayo -- just wasn't enough time to see everything! We're craving a return visit, and this area, including Westport, will be on the list. Would love to do some cycling there.

Lillie

Wednesday 24th of June 2015

Even though we got to see Westport, there's still so much more we missed out on. We all need to go back! :)

Mary @ Green Global Travel

Sunday 14th of June 2015

Thanks for sharing your experience in Westport. I love the Greenway bike path. In warmer weather, it looks like it would be a great place to bring a picnic.

Jeff Titelius

Wednesday 10th of June 2015

Oh I just have to make it to Ireland someday soon! Loved this introduction to Westport, looks like such an enchanting place! The Westport House is exquisite with its stunning decor and I loved the pirate ancestry as well. Great article my friend.

Lillie

Wednesday 24th of June 2015

Thanks! Glamorous female pirates and pretty architecture... what more could you want?

Elle | Spain Buddy

Wednesday 10th of June 2015

I've been to Westport a few times now - a lovely part of the country!

Great pics of you and your family as always

E xxx

Izy Berry

Friday 5th of June 2015

Great Post !! your kid is so cute plus that ireland is a beautiful place to visit.

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