Westport is a town in County Mayo at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. A popular tourist destination, it scores high marks for quality of life. It won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition three times in 2001, 2006 and 2008. In 2012 it won the Best Place to Live in Ireland competition run by The Irish Times. The famous pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick lies 10 km west of the town, forming a backdrop to the town and Clew Bay.

Westport House is a much visited tourist attraction owned by the Hughes family. It is situated in a parkland setting with the lovely Carrowbeg River nearby along with terraces and garden views.

There are several forest walks starting at Westport House. One walk takes you to The Quay and Clew Bay. The quay was once busy port but it is no longer used for commercial shipping, but is now known for its many warehouse conversions, restaurants, pubs and a museum. From here, one gets an interesting perspective of Ireland’s Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick.

A shorter Looped Riverside Walk, of about 1.5km, starts at Westport House, goes across the lawn, over the old stone bridge and follows the Carrowbeg River to a red bridge which takes you back to Westport House and charming views of the house. Near the old stone bridge you can rent a Swan Pedaloe to explore the little lake there.

Grace O’Malley was a pirate who defied Elizabeth 1, the English monarch, for almost 40 years by plundering English ships and fiercely repelling the forces that tried to take her family’s land. She was born around 1530 to Owen O’Malley, the chieftain of a clan who ruled the area around Clew Bay for more than 300 years. During that time, they built wealth from both piracy and legitimate trade with France and Spain.