Our strong sense of community will see us through.

After reading last Friday’s Irish Times piece ‘Covid 19: Westport braces for tough times ahead’ with interest. Japers, we thought. That’s a bit downbeat.

Now, we’re not saying that this isn’t a really, really hard time for everyone – but if there’s one thing we are not here in Westport, it’s defeatist.

We know this weird new normal is only temporary. It will pass, and when it does, we’ll be ready for the bounce. And in the meantime we’re seeing this as a challenge – and another opportunity to prove the strength of our community bonds and the depths of our compassion for one another as businesspeople, as fellow citizens and as friends.

As a town, we’re pulling together and doing our best to make sure that our amazing home-grown businesses are getting the support they need so that when this virus is kicked, those businesses will be still standing, ready to pick up where they left off.

Westport Chamber of Commerce is offering free membership to all the town’s businesses who sign up during the pandemic. Here at Destination Westport, we’re promoting a host of new ways that people can support local retailers, producers, hotels, tourism operators, fitness and wellbeing businesses, spas and more in our latest Shop Local Feature. And we’re looking forward to the bounce that will bring all our visitors back to our beautiful, friendly town.

Our Westport-based local newspaper, The Mayo News, is keeping people up to speed on the services and schemes that are there to support businesses and community members – and keeping our spirits raised too with stories that show our meitheal and community spirit, as well as tips for mental health and practical day-to-day advice for life during the crisis.

Businesses are also reaching back to the community and finding new ways to support the people who have supported them in the past – and who will again in the future. From The Yoga Root offering free and donation-based online yoga classes to Tertulia Bookshop offering to do home deliveries, and from Cornrue Bakery setting up pre-orders for its addictive sourdough to our local craft-beer producer Mescan Brewery organising a big ‘Post-Corona Party’. (We’re looking forward to that hooley…!)

Westport people are rallying to support our volunteer sector too, with the charities that look after our vulnerable members – charities like Westport Meals on Wheels and Westport Lions Club – doing stellar work and getting huge support from the community and businesses.

Yes, these are challenging times, yes this is unprecedented and bit scary. But in Westport we’re pulling together, and so we will survive together, and maybe even come out of this even stronger. Because that’s what we do here. We weren’t voted the Best Place to Live in Ireland for nothing you know!