Looking for things to do in Westport? Westport House is one of Ireland’s best loved heritage attractions – and is rightly known as the most beautiful house in Ireland.
Set on the Wild Atlantic Way in the heart of Westport town, there has been a ‘big house’ on this site since the 1500’s, when Grace O’Malley, the famous Pirate Queen, built one of her castles here. Amazingly, her dungeons still remain in the current house which was built in 1730 by her descendants, the Brownes – now owned by the local Hughes family.
Visitors love that this is one of the few privately owned manor houses left in the country and truly feels like walking in to a “family home” complete with the warm welcoming fires. Albeit a very grand one indeed!
The history of the family behind Westport House is absolutely fascinating. A guided tour with a passionate Westport House guide brings these stories to life and showcases the treasures contained in over 30 rooms and 6 permanent exhibitions available for you to explore. Not part of a group? No problem, you can download our free Guided Tour App from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and take your own self-guided tour.
Want to be treated like a Lord or a Lady? Book in for a delicious Afternoon Tea in the formal Drawing Room served by Victorian maids. To truly experience life as a Lord or Lady, why not add an evening supper or dinner to your itinerary and enjoy warm hospitality and the best of Irish cuisine?
Westport House also offers the chance to experience the animal life of a country estate with a Birds of Prey show for groups of 15 or more people or a private hawk walk. You’ll never forget the experience of having a falcon fly in at speed and land on your arm.
With extensive parkland, lakeland and woodland grounds, be sure to allow some time to enjoy the formal gardens surrounding the house or take in the woodland and parklands on our new 3.5km looped walk.
So, if you’re looking for things to do in Westport today, look no further!
The Story Behind Westport House
Inside the stunning stately home itself, there are over 30 rooms on show giving visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in life as far back as the 16th century when Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen of Connacht ruled the land and seas around the estate. Built upon the foundations of one of her many castles which can still be toured in the dungeons today, the original Westport House was built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife Maud Burke, Grace O’Malley’s great-great-granddaughter.
Since then it has undergone a number of developments under the direction of the celebrated architects Richard Cassels (of Carton and Leinster House architectural fame), James Wyatt and Thomas Ivory, progressing from a smaller, one room deep residence with a central open court yard to the stately square house complete with beautiful balustraded terraces that we recognise today.From the moment you step into the Front Hall with its breath-taking barrel vaulted ceiling and soft, rose red hues, the magnitude of the home’s historical and architectural significance becomes clear.
The majestic Sicilian marble staircase, made by Italian workmen and imported specially for Westport House by George (3rd Marquess of Sligo) in 1858 beholds the mythological Angel of Welcome centrepiece, where family tradition was to shake the angel’s hand upon returning from trips or visiting.
Waterford cut glass chandeliers, marble open fireplaces, bog oak furnishings and an exquisite hand painted 19th century ceiling featuring soft, wispy clouds in a periwinkle blue sky are just some of the lavish interiors on display. The intriguing Chinese Room on the first floor features a delicately hand painted wallpaper known as the Willow Pattern Story, depicting the tragic love story of a young Chinese maiden in one large, continuous painting.
Explore Westport House a little further to uncover even more of the fascinating relics of more than 300 years of Irish history including the 1850’s stained glass doors in the south corridor depicting the family crest, a bog oak bowl with a silver filigree lid resting on a silver potato ‘ring’ (unique to the West of Ireland) in the small dining room, and a magnificent collection of family portraits and local landscapes by artists such as James Arthur O’Connor, Chalon, Barret, Gibson, Opie, Brooks and Lavery.
Currently there are six absorbing exhibitions on display throughout the house including a wax work exhibition of ten notable contributors to Irish literature, music and the arts, and the inspiring story of Howe Peter, 2nd Marquess of Sligo and Governor General of Jamaica who led the emancipation of slaves and had the first ‘free village’ in the world, Sligoville, named in his honour. And our newest exhibition was compiled by the Great Hunger Institute of the University of Quinnipiac in the USA and tells of the family’s significant efforts to alleviate the suffering of their tenants during the Great Famine.
Discover Westport House through guided and self-guided tours, fascinating exhibitions and a range of reading materials available at the entrance hall. This important landmark in the stunning heritage town of Westport is a must-see thing to do in Westport. Be sure to also allow time to visit the Great Western Greenway, Croagh Patrick, Killary Fjord or Achill Island when you’re in Mayo.
Call Today +353 (0) 98 27766
If you have any questions or wish to know more about all Westport House has to offer, please contact us on +353 (0) 98 27766 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The grounds surrounding Westport House are an eclectic fusion of natural wonders, architectural grandeur and fascinating antiquities. The vast expanse of Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick in the distance provide an idyllic backdrop to the Estate’s tumbling waterfalls, terraces, promenades and lofty ancient oaks. Whispers of the past are evident at each turn from the large soup pots used to feed the hungry during the Great Famine, a Spanish Armada cannon and the 3000 year old Greek sarcophagus brought back from Howe Peter’s excavations at Mycenae in Greece. Proud and graceful, a bronze casting of Grace O’Malley is a highlight amongst the grounds’ features, one of only two likenesses of the great Pirate Queen.
Access to Westport House
At this time buggies are not permitted inside Westport House due to the delicate nature of the antique parquet floors. Please park your buggy inside the ante-library and feel free to avail of one of our baby carriers at the entrance hall while you tour the House.
Much to our regret, Westport House is not yet wheel-chair accessible although we are working hard to secure the infrastructure to create this important access.
|January||Open daily from January 1st to 6th from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Closed for the rest of the month.
|February||Open weekends from 10:00am to 4:00pm|
|March||Open daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm.|
|April||In line with government advice, Westport House is closed for the month of April due to the Covid-19 crisis.|
|May||Open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Extended hours: May 3rd - 5th from 10:00am to 6:00pm for May Bank Holiday weekend.
|June||Open daily in June from 10:00am - 6:00pm.|
|July||Open daily from 10:00am – 6:00pm.|
|August||Open daily from 10:00am – 6:00pm.|
|September||Open daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm. House closed on September 14th and 15th for a private event.|
|October||Open daily in October from 10:00am - 4:00pm.
Extended Hours: For mid-term break and our Halloween Fest Event, open daily from October 26th to October 31st from 10:00am to 6:00pm.
|November||Westport House is open from November 1st to 3rd from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Open for remaining weekends in November from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
On November 28th and 29th, we are open from 10:00am to 6:00pm and decorated for Christmas time for our Winter Wonderland event. Viewing of house per normal.
|December||Westport House is open at weekends for Winter Wonderland and general visitors. Please visit our Event calendar for details.
We are closed from December 24th to December 27th inclusive.
We re-open after Christmas from December 28th to January 5th 2020 from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
|Buy at Ticket Office||Buy Online (5% discount!)||Stay with us and take 25% off your tickets (Hotel Westport, Caravan & Camping Park, Bell Tent or in Orchard Cottage - tickets may be bought on arrival or as part of your accommodation reservation)|
|Senior (over 65’s)||€11.00||€10.50||€8.25|
|Student (with student ID)||€11.00||€10.50||€8.25|
|Child (2 years and under)||FREE||FREE||FREE|