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Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
Located to the west of Shannon, Westport House overlooks Ireland's holy Croagh Patrick mountain, Clare Island and out over Clew Bay to the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
The limestone house is built over three floors on an estate with formal gardens, terraces a lake and parkland, the estate also has the remains of an old boathouse open to the sea.
The interior is particularly fine with intricate ceilings and Jamaican mahogany doors.
Westport House is considered one of the most beautiful historic houses in Ireland and is open to the public between May and October, 10am and 5.30pm daily (Sundays and Bank Holidays only in May)
The house and estate offers something for every visitor, from the beautiful rooms on show within the house to a family playground and even a campsite in the woodland.
Inside the house some of the rooms display a selection of their original contents including portraits and landscapes, a collection of silver, Waterford glass and historic Irish books in the library. Visitors also have the opportunity to visit part of the original castle belonging to Grace O'Malley which is now in the basement or the dungeons as they are known.
In the grounds families can enjoy the Pirate's Den an adventure playground with log flume, pirate ship, mini railway and an indoor soft play area. The house also has its own bar and cafe in the old farmyard named after the pirate queen it is the venue for live music most weekends.
Westport House also hosts wedding receptions. Champagne receptions start in the entrance hall with its sweeping staircase and the drawing room or the long gallery; seating up to 90 guests, being used for dining. For those with a larger amount of guests a grand marquee is set up on the lawns.
The house was built on the site of an original castle belonging to Grace O'Malley, the 'Pirate Queen'. The original eastern façade was designed by Richard Cassels a famous German architect in 1730 for Colonel John Browne, the husband of Maude Burke, the great great granddaughter of Grace O'Malley.
During the Williamite wars much of the estate was confiscated and when Colonel Browne died his grandson; also called John and later becoming 1st Earl of Altamont, inherited an estate of just a few hundred acres.
The estate was improved by succeeding generations who now also had the title of Marquees of Sligo, creating a lake and planting trees as well as employing James Wyatt to build a further three facades and two wings and decorate the gallery and dining room. In 1845 during the famine the estate closed and the 3rd Marquess was forced to borrow and use his saving to help his tenants for which he was awarded the Order of St Patrick.
In 1960 the 10th Marquess and his family opened the house and grounds to the public for the first time and since then it has been developed as a major tourist attraction with current occupant being Jeremy Browne, 11th Marquess of Sligo and his family.
Outdoor family theatre productions are held in the grounds during the summer.
Other Castles in the Area
Castleburke, County Mayo
Rockfleet Castle, County Mayo