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17th Jul 2019

“Yeah Westport Is Unreal But It’s Actually Neighbours With The Greatest Small Town In The West Of Ireland”

Darragh Berry

Yeah, Westport is unreal.

We’re massive fans of this location where The Clock stands tall in the middle of the town.

It’s certainly the best place in Ireland to go on the beer in and here’s your guide to navigating around ‘port.

But, come here, we’re just going to whisper this…

Westport is actually neighbours with the greatest small town in the West of Ireland – Louisburgh.

It’s about a 35 minute drive from my home house and it’s a place I knew about all my life but never properly visited until this summer.

The reason? A small musical festival that is a summer highlight in the west of Ireland.

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But first, let’s talk about the road that brings you there. It is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see in your life.

We know Mayo is a beautiful county already – here’s 17 reasons why – but the scenery on the way to, in, and on the outskirts of Louisburgh is a different class.

It’s the type of scenery that makes you wish you were a passenger in the car and the only excitement you get from driving past it is knowing that you’ll end up in Louisburgh soon.

There’s enough to entice you to go past the town of Louisburgh and although it is a huge mistake, you can understand why people do it.

The thoughts of Clare Island and getting “the ferry out from Roonagh” and waving all your cares goodbye as The Saw Doctors once put it, is tempting but it doesn’t hold a match to Louisburgh.

(Even though, you might not see a sheep being used as a stool in a Louisburgh pub like in Clare Island.)

And this is only something I found out recently myself. I had only been in Louisburgh once and that was only to pass through it. It was summer 2017 and myself and the boys opted against an expensive weekend abroad for a cheap and very cheerful 20 minute boat journey across to Clare Island. If New York is the city that never sleeps, Clare Island is the island.

But, this summer just gone, thanks to my auld fella, we put aside a special Bank Holiday Sunday to visit Louisburgh and it was worth the trip.

The May Bank Holiday to be precise because that’s when Feile Chois Cuain takes place, from the Friday through to the Monday.

Derrylahan Lburgh

The festival is a celebration of not just Irish music and songs but poems and stories also.

It has been happening for more than two decades in Louisburgh and has attracted the best of performers year after year.

What I couldn’t get over was the fact that this small town could host such a huge event.

We nestled inside the door of one of the pubs, Duffy’s, as a song broke out. The front of the pub was probably smaller than your office bathroom but it was packed to the gills with people who came to listen.

It’s sad in a way that it took a festival like this to make me realise the true beauty of a town like this that was always right on my doorstep.

It’s your quintessential small Irish town and you’d pass through it before you know it.

But, within it you have several auld stock Irish pubs where you won’t have to search too hard to find a high stool or a nice pint.

There’s a real sense of community in the area, a place where everyone knows everyone and when you do make the trip down, everyone will know that you’re not from around this way.

Duffys Main
Mc Namaras Main
Cronins Main

The pubs above mixed with ‘An Bhun Abhainn’ and ‘The Derrylahan’ along with a host of others past and present, you’d wonder how the town was big enough for them all.

Strange thing is, it isn’t but there’s something special inside of each pub, something so homely about each that it’s almost as if you need to give each one special attention from time to time.

You’re also situated near some of the finest beaches that not only the west of Ireland but the whole island has to offer.

Being in Louisburgh means Carrowmore Beach, Silver Strand and Old Head Beach are all within touching distance.

It’s not just a summer place either. Sure, it’ll be harder to do the SUP School in the depths of winter and Surf Mayo is going to be a bit more difficult in the winter.

But who says you only have to go down once?

Granuaile Heritage Centre and Glen Keen Farm are just as popular but they’re not a patch on the treat that is “The Lost Valley”.

It’s an absolute must that if you’re in Louisburgh, you must visit ‘Uggool Valley’.

As explained on their website, “located in the heart of ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’ and sheltered beneath Mweelrea the highest mountain in the west of Ireland. The Lost Valley also offers unique views to the entrance of Ireland’s only fjord, Killary, which has been rated among the top ten most outstanding glacial fjords in the world.

“You can take a walk back in time to when children played around the long deserted village now overgrown with hazel and bracken, from which the villagers were cruelly evicted as the Great Famine ended, so that high society could maintain their living standards.

“The quietude that surrounds the remains of the deserted village today is very striking in such a picturesque setting, overlooking the wild Atlantic.”

So what are you waiting for? Your next weekend trip has just been organised for you.

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