We spent an extra night in Drogheda due to the predicted arrival of Tropical Storm Callum which we hoped would just blow on through. But, on Saturday Callum was still with us so we decided to head west and leave the rain behind. Fat chance of that as we had rain all the way across Ireland. Our path took us south on the M1 to Dublin’s “ring road” M50, and west on the M4/M6/M5, to the Mayo city of Westport.
We were delighted to arrive (after three loops through Westport’s “An Lar” or town center) at the Hazelbrook B&B. The proprietor John greeted us by name and made us feel at home. Worn out from our 5-hour drive we dumped our bags and headed out the door on foot to explore the lovely town of Westport.
In the morning we had John’s delicious “Full Irish” breakfast of eggs, bacon rashers, sausages, baked beans, tomato, black and white “puddings”, brown soda bread, toast, juicethe grounds are what snatch your breath , and fruit (cereal optional) accompanied by a gorgeous view of Croagh Patrick mountain. John kindly drew out a walking map of the town for us. So we set off down the road (and Lordy, Irish roads, in addition to going the wrong direction, are narrow and busy).
The walk’s highlight was Westport House. Normally we might yawn and say, “Another wealthy aristocratic pile” but this was very different. Westport House is the ancestral home of the “Pirate Queen” Grace O’Malley/Grainne Ni Mhaille. The house is grand but the grounds are spectacular. Acres of green velvet lawn dotted with sheep, a lake and a river flowing out to the sea, and forestland.
Direct descendants of Grainne still live in the house—piracy’s rewards,
Sláinte. Slán go fóill!