Unlike most Irish cities, Westport is a planned town. It was built in the Georgian style in the late 1700s to support the adjacent estate of Westport House. The town suffered with the collapse of the Irish linen industry, but now touts itself as one of Ireland’s tidiest towns. (However, the Tidy Towns website notes that Ennis won as Ireland’s Tidiest Town for 2005). One result of the Tidy Towns competition is that many buildings were painted in fresh new colors. A 2002 picture of our hotel shows that it was a drab tan; by 2005, it was a bright blue. The interior had been redone in vivid hues of orange and gold.

*Update: Westport won as Ireland's tidiest town again in 2006.

Before and after

A pleasant place to relax and get into a good book.


Strokestown Park was the rather grand home of the Mahons, built in the 1700s. During the potato famine, they chartered three ships to send their tenant farmers to Canada, which apparently was cheaper than paying to support them in the local workhouse. Half of the people died on the voyage. The head of the Mahon family was murdered in 1847, but the family continued living in the house until 1979. Next to the house is the extensive Famine Museum.

We weren't allowed to take very many pictures in the house, but I was able to snap a pic of the children's playroom. I liked the enamelware teapot, because I have one just like it.


The kitchen in the left wing of the house is the only remaining so-called gallery-kitchen in Ireland. The gallery allowed the lady of the house to control the work in the kitchen without actually being in the kitchen. There was a catwalk or gallery that ran around the top part of the kitchen. Tunnels, which were used by the staff to enter the kitchen, add to the idea that the Mahon family were not fond of their staff


The Famine Museum told the rather grim story that led to much of the Irish exodus to other parts of the world. There is a twin of this museum in Quebec, Canada. We lingered quite a while to look at all of the exhibits, before we headed back out on the road again.

We stopped along the way at the Celtic Heritage Centre (Cruachan Ai) in Tulsk. The main focus was on Rathcroghan Mound, which is a ceremonial center associated with pre-christian ritual.


After the Famine Museum, we drove west from County Roscommon back through County Mayo to Clifden in the far western part of County Galway. The town of Clifden claims to be the capital of the Connemara region. Every other town in the area was the “gateway to the Connemara."

We stayed at a really nice guesthouse called Joyce’s Waterloo. Our hosts were PK and Patricia Joyce.


View from our room at the guesthouse


We had dinner at Fogerty’s Restaurant in town. We were not thinking about the Famine at all.