Westport House Review
The showpiece of the town remains Westport House and Country Park, a stately home built on the site of an earlier castle (believed to have been the home of the 16th-century warrior queen, Grace O'Malley) and most famed for its setting right on the shores of a beautiful lake. The house was begun in 1730 to the designs of Richard Castle, added to in 1778, and completed in 1788 by architect James Wyatt for the Marquess of Sligo of the Browne family. The rectangular, three-story house is furnished with late-Georgian and Victorian pieces. Family portraits by Opie and Reynolds, a huge collection of old Irish silver and old Waterford glass, plus an opulent group of paintings—including The Holy Family by Rubens—are on display. A word of caution: Westport isn't your usual staid country house. The old dungeons now house video games and the grounds have given way to an amusement park for children and an adventure center offering zip rides, laser combat games and archery. In fact, the lake is now littered with swan-shaped "pedaloes," boats that may be fun for families but help destroy the perfect Georgian grace of the setting. If these elements don't sound like a draw, arrive early when it's less likely to be busy. There is also a 1.5km riverside walk, a tree trail, a gift shop, and a coffee shop.
- Address: Off N59, south of Westport, clearly signposted from Octagon, Westport, Co. Mayo
- Phone: 098/27766
- Cost: House and gardens €12.50, activities €5–€20, family ticket €60; 10% discount online
- Hours: House, gardens, and attractions: May. and Oct., Bank Holiday weekends 10–4; 2 weeks at Easter, daily 10–4; June Weds.–Fri., 10–3, Sat & Sun. 12noon–6pm; July and Aug., daily 11–6. Partly closed for weddings & festivals so phone before to confirm.
- Website: www.westporthouse.ie
- Location: Westport