Come for the scenery, stay for the craic
If you happen to find yourself in Westport (aka. one of the most beautiful spots on the Wild Atlantic Way) this week, make sure you put these activities on your To-Do list.
Clew Bay Bike Trail
Are you a fan of scenic bike trails or greenways? Clew Bay Bike Trail is the first looped cycle experience of Clew Bay in County Mayo, taking in both Achill Island and Clare Island. The trail can be completed in one day, but two days allows you more time to enjoy the pretty towns and impressive scenery along the way.
The trail passes through some of Mayo’s most attractive seaside towns, such as Westport, Newport and Mulranny, while revealing incredible coastal scenery. Not only that, the towering peak of Croagh Patrick overlooks the entire route.
It is the mission of many an Irish person to reach the top of Croagh Patrick – whether for religious reasons or just to take in the breathtaking views atop one of the country’s most beautiful locations.
Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick, is said to have spent 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain in 441 AD, and the chapel that sits on the summit was built in 1905. Every year, thousands of Christians climb the holy mountain on the last Sunday in July, which is an annual pilgrimage day in Ireland known as Reek Sunday. If you’re planning on doing the climb, have a good breakfast before you leave, bring plenty of snacks and water, a mobile phone in case of emergency (and for that all important selfie at the top) and decent hiking boots that provide ankle support.
Clew Bay Heritage Centre
If you’re a history buff, head to Westport Quay and step back in time at the Clew Bay Heritage Centre, situated in a 19th-century building on the quayside. Here, you can discover wonderful gems about the history of the planned town and its surrounding area from pre-Christian times.
The centre is a true treasure trove of artefacts, documents and photographs including original artefacts relating to Major John MacBride and his wife Maud Gonne, (inspiration of the love poetry of W B Yeats); autographs, books of Prisoners of War and various items from War of Independence and Civil War. These create an awe-inspiring tapestry of local history, customs and traditions. It also offers a genealogical service, guided tours of the centre and group walks by appointment.
Matt Molloy’s Pub
If it’s top trad music you’re after, the most famous spot in town is Matt Molloy’s, where regular trad sessions take place in the ‘back bar’. Clap and toe-tap along to the spirit-raising airs beside a crackling fire. A member of the Chieftains since 1979, Matt is best known for his exceptional flute playing. The secret to his success is widely acknowledged as his willingness to keep the pub small so musicians can join up from the 32 counties to enjoy a pint and a tune in an intimate and cosy setting.
But if that’s not your thing, don’t worry. Westport has a rip-roaring social scene and is a well known hot spot for stags and hen parties! Here’s a guide to some other places and activities to check out on a night out in this not-so-hidden gem.
Knockranny House Hotel and Spa
For a more upmarket stay, it’s always nice to treat yourself to a hotel stay. Our editorial team had the pleasure of staying at Knockranny House Hotel and Spa recently and found it to be a captivating blend of old-world charm and modern luxury. Here’s what they had to say about it:
“After a long day of travel and preparations, our first order of business was a visit to the hotel’s ‘Brehon Bar,’ a cosy and inviting space that beckoned us to unwind. The award-winning Spa Salveo has recently launched the new bespoke Harmony Ritual, created in-house by Carrie Cann, the Spa Manager. The treatment combines her favourite techniques and sequences of massage to deliver the ultimate head-to-toe intensive massage, available for just €155 (90 minutes). A trip to its fine-dining restaurant La Fougère is also a must for foodies!
“Our brief sojourn at Knockranny House Hotel and Spa was a preview of the luxury and hospitality that this establishment offers. From the warm welcome to the thoughtful amenities, it was an enchanting experience that left us keen to return. We were sent on our way after a full breakfast overlooking a view of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay. Knockranny House Hotel and Spa is not merely a place to stay; it’s an experience that lingers in your memory and leaves you eagerly anticipating your next visit.”