Thinking about moving to Ireland? Westport is the best of Ireland - a small town with a massive community feeling, wild countryside, and a fierce social scene.
Whether you're actively planning a move to Ireland or just daydreaming a little, IrishCentral has you covered at the start of each week with #MovetoIrelandMonday. This week: Westport, in County Mayo.
Westport, County Mayo, is a destination town! Located on the edge of an Atlantic inlet, right next to Clew Bay, this bustling town has it all – everything you’d expect from a west of Ireland town, great food and nightlife and an incredible sense of community.
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A fact about Westport that always sticks in our mind is that this town, with a population of just 5,543 (Census 2011), has over 100 active community and volunteer groups. The second is that in 2012 the town won the Irish Times competition for the “Best Place to Live in Ireland”.
Westport earned this title having been pitted against 500 other places around Ireland. After the announcement Conor Goodman, Features Editor, The Irish Times and Chair of the judging panel, said, "Westport is a beautiful place, well-kept and pleasant to visit, but those aren't the reasons it won. The judges chose Westport because it is a community of people working together to make the best of the town's many advantages.”
He added “The residents of Westport love where they live, and with good reason. The judges had a tough job in deciding on a single overall winner, there was plenty of debate and due consideration amongst them before making this important decision."
Westport was entered into the competition by a local man, John O'Callaghan, who said “Westport has it all. Lovely people, lots to do, excellent employment, fantastic amenities, gorgeous scenery, a thriving arts and cultural scene, great sports and leisure facilities, a palpable community spirit, a choice of good restaurants, fine schools, a caring social services center, an active retirement group, flourishing overseas partnerships and more."
IrishCentral’s Founder Niall O’Dowd took a trip there to see what the fuss was all about and Westport did not disappoint.
He wrote “The main streets might remind American visitors of The Hamptons in New York with lots of upscale little stores selling baubles and antiques of all descriptions -- a browser’s delight.
“The people staffing the stores were universally friendly and keen to chat, giving that west of Ireland propensity to accept the proverb that when God made time he made plenty of it.
“An old town clock, a winding river, a feeling of a close-knit community going about its business makes Westport feel special.”
Where to live in Westport
Westport is a relatively small town surrounded by some of the most stunning countryside in Ireland. The choice of where to live will most certainly be personal. Would you rather live in the busy town center and be part of the action? Or perhaps you’d like to wake up in a room with the view of the rolling countryside or even the incredible Clew Bay!
A quick glance prices in Westport vary. In fact, there’s currently a 12-bedroom hotel on the market for $968k (€850k). However, if 12 rooms seems a little extravagant there are more reasonable properties on the market.
For example, this three-bed duplex in Ashwood Meadows is on the market to rent for $1,210 (€1,000) per month.
House prices are relatively reasonable in the area. Right in the center of Westport town we found this two-bedroom house for $181,642 (€150,000).
What to do in Westport
You most certainly will not be stuck for entertainment in Westport. Matt Molloy’s pub is a famous institution in Westport, owned by the Chieftain’s flute player. This is a wonder spot for a bit to eat, a pint and of course live music.
Then just outside the main strip is Knockranny House, hotel and spa, a real treat for fine-dining and wonderful relaxation.
Overall the food and bars in Westport are excellent, which is why the town remains a firm favorite holiday destination for Irish and foreigners alike.
There’s also a great focus on culture in the town. The Westport Town Hall Theatre hosts a range of entertainment events by national artists and musicians, local theatre groups and children's puppet shows.
Also every year there are a massive range of festivals that take place in the town such as the Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts, Westport Horse & Pony Show, Westport Arts Festival, and Westport Seafood Festival to name but a few.
Getting out of town
Westport is ideally situated for those who want to explore the wonders of Ireland’s west. There’s so many sights and places of interest in the surrounds it would be impossible to name them all but here are just a few of the most famous attractions in the area.
Of course, there’s the famous Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain and beacon for religious tourists.
In Louisburg, the next town over, you can catch some of the best surf in Ireland as well as stunning beaches and some beautiful loop walks.
Achill Island is just a 45-minute drive from Westport. The island is connected to the land by “the Greenway” and makes for a wonderful cycling route. On Achill you can enjoy the wonders of Keel Beach, a surf haven.
About an hours drive away is the famous ‘Deserted Village’ Leenane village, home to the largest Fjord in Europe in Killary Harbour.
And last but not least is Clare Island, one of the largest islands in Clew Bay. The island has been inhabited for 5,000 years and most famously is home to Grace O’ Malleys castle.
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Would you consider moving to Westport? Do you have any tips for those contemplating a move? Share your thoughts in the comment section.