Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Westport, County Mayo
Westport (Cathair na Mart in Irish) is a town in County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland. It is situated on the west coast of Ireland, at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. The town's name in Irish, Cathair na Mart, is ancient and means "the stone fort of the beeves (= fully grown cattle)". The population is about 4000, but the town acts as a centre for its rural hinterland.
The famous pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick, colloquially, 'the Reek' lies some 10 km west of the town near Murrisk. The mountain presents a striking backdrop to the town. The church on the summit can just be made out with the naked eye from Westport.
People from the town of Westport are traditionally known as Coveys. Some decades ago the Covey dialect still existed and was unintelligible to outsiders. For example the Covey word for a woman was a 'doner'. To this day inhabitants of nearby areas, including Castlebar, refer to the people of Westport, sometimes mildly disparaging, sometimes somewhat affectionately, as Coveys. Matt Molloy of the Chieftains has a vibrant musical pub on Bridge street at the heart of the town.
Westport through the year
Several festivals are held in and around Westport each year. The Westport Horse & Pony Show is held on the first weekend in June. The Sea Angling Festival is held annually in the third or fourth week in June. This is internationally acclaimed and in existence for over 42 years, attracting sea anglers from all over the world. The annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage is held annually on the last sunday in July.
The Arts Festival is held in the second two weeks of September. This is a festival of arts, music and literature.
The annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage is held annually on the last sunday in July; The Westport Seafood Festival is held on the October Bank Holiday weekend. The Westport Wellness Week Festival is held on the first week in November.
Westport has one newspaper based in the town, the Mayo News, founded in 1892. It is the place to find what is happening in Westport and the surrounding region. The paper campaigns the cause of community development in the region.
Westport is a major tourist draw with visitors coming for several reasons. The most important is the magnificent scenery of the area, and the proximity to Connemara, Achill, and Croagh Patrick. Westport is well known for sea-angling and freshwater fishing is popular on nearby Loughs Mask and Carra and on the Eriff river . Westport House Country Estate with its children's zoo is a particular draw for families, many of whom stay on the estate. Westport has an 18-hole golf course, popular with visitors. A nearby 9-hole course has an attached guest accommodation.
Westport is twinned with the town of Plougastel Daoulas in the département of Finistère in western Brittany, France. Schoolchildren from the two towns regularly exchange visits. Westport is also partnered with the town of Aror in Kenya, and the people of Westport have often contributed to improving the infrastructure of Aror .
The two main churches are Holy Trinity Church (Church of Ireland), and Saint Mary's Church (Roman Catholic). Holy Trinity Church is small but an architectural gem, and provides magnificent acoustics for concerts. The local Roman Catholic Church and Church of Ireland enjoy excellent relations in Westport. Some years ago, local catholics helped the dwindling anglican congregation to restore Holy Trinity Church. More recently, in 2004, St. Marys was closed due to subsidence and catholics held most of their services in Holy Trinity on the invitation of their protestant friends. Visitors from Northern Ireland were amazed. There are no other churches in Westport. Westport has no synagogue or mosque.
The town is the terminus of a 250 km railway route from the capital, Dublin, which serves the town and surrounding area. This railway also serves the county town, Castlebar, about 18 km east-north-east of Westport. The N5 national primary route also connects the town to Castlebar, as well as connecting to the N4 near Longford that leads onward to Dublin. The other major road passing through Westport is the N59 secondary route, which rambles around the West of Ireland both to the north and south of the town.
Westport is unusual in Ireland in that it is a planned town. The original village of Cathair na Mart was moved to its present site in the 1780s by the Browne family. The town was laid out by James Wyatt, a famous English architect. He also completed Westport House ,the stately home of the Marquess of Sligo and designed the dining room. Westport House had originally been built by Richard Cassels, the German architect, in the 1730s, on the original O' Malley Castle. The dungeons of the O' Malley castle still remain. The most notable feature of James Wyatt's plan is the lovely tree-lined boulevard, the Mall, built on the River Carrowbeg .
Major John MacBride
A monument stands on the Mall in memory of Major John MacBride. Born locally in 1865, he rose to the rank of major in the Boer army which fought the British in the Boer War, rising to the rank of major. He was executed in 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising. He was the father of Sean MacBride, the Nobel peace laureate.
Westport has a small adjoining port, the Quay, once busy,no longer used for commercial shipping, but a suburb notable for its many warehouse conversions. A small ferry leaves from the Quay in the summer months bound for Clare Island.
See also: List of towns in the Republic of Ireland
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