Five tours to take when you visit Westport

Five tours to take when you visit Westport

Sometimes reading up on a place just seems like too much work. Why spend your holiday flicking and scrolling, trying to find out about local culture and history, when you could just let someone else tell you all about it?

Here’s a selection of five fascinating but very different tours to take in and around Westport. Do them all, and you’ll end up with so much insider knowledge, you could be mistaken for a local.

Westport House and Estate offer a whole range of fun and insightful tours. Take a guided or self-guided tour (using an audio tour app) of the house itself and discover its incredible history, which goes right back to the 16th century and Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley.

Or take a load off and hop aboard a miniature-train for an informative 50-minute tour through not only the grounds of Westport House but also along Westport Quay and through the colourful town of Westport.

Drawn to nature? You could also take a tour of Westport House’s beautiful gardens and learn all about the fascinating historic landscape, from the stunning planted terraces to the romantic rose garden.

Step back in time and let Kevin O’Reilly and his majestic draught horse, Bella, bring you around Westport town and area in style, in a horse-drawn carriage.

Good humoured and a great storyteller, Kevin is a true fount of local knowledge, and he likes nothing more than to share his many fascinating gems of Westport history and geography as you clip-clop along through town and country. Little ones love sitting up front and even getting to hold Bella’s reins, while adults are riveted by Kevin’s plethora of local insights.

Oh, and if you ask Bella nicely, she’ll let you rub her shoe for luck.

The yellow-clad guides of Westport Walking Tours offer visitors a casual, hour-long gguided walkaround the heart of Westport town. The tours take place everyday weekday, at 10am and again at 12 noon.

The operation was setup by Stephen and Alan Clarke, whose family have been part of the fabric of Westport since its beginnings, and each of the Westport Walking Tour guides know just about all there is to know about the area. Expect lots of facts, stories, recommendations and laughs along the way.

Calling all beer lovers! Take a tour of Westport’s very own microbrewery, Mescan, and find out how their hugely popular range of delicious Belgian-style bottle-conditioned beers are made using malt, hops, yeast and spring water from Mescan’s own well. Visitors will learn about the styles and flavour profiles of Mescan beers, which include Westport Blond Beer, Westport Saison and Westport Red Tripel.

Finger food is served during the tour, and questions and banter are heartily encouraged. Mescan beers are readily available in Westport town and surrounding areas, and visitors will be recommended to visit local hostelries and test their newfound beer knowledge. (Oh go on then, twist our arm!)

Looking for something outdoors and off the beaten track? We have just the ticket: A guided cultural adventure through the spectacular lost Uggool Valley, which lies just beyond Louisburgh, close to Silver Strand beach. Lost Valley tours (run by the local Bourke family) offer guided walks that are suitable for all ages, and that take in some truly amazing scenery.

Spend three hours hearing about the heritage and history of the spectacular valley while you amble at a relaxed, leisurely pace on a well-developed 4k looped trail. Visit the ruins of a famine village and see the myriad of potato ridges that have poignantly lain exactly as they were left almost 200 years ago.

The Lost Valley is also a working farm, and visitors can get a taste of the rustic life with pet lamb feeding for young adventurers, working sheep-dog demonstrations and even sheep-shearing demonstrations.