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The railway viaduct in Newport

Newport's spectacular seven-arched bridge with St Patrick's Church in the background. Pic: Creative Commons/Laurel Lodged

Newport – heart of the Great Western Greenway

 

Newport, 12km (7.5 miles) north of Westport on the Newport Road (N59), has as its most distinctive feature the elegant seven arch viaduct which dominates the townscape. It was built in 1892 for the now-defunct Westport-Achill railway line, most of which is now the Great Western Greenway.

Today, the railway bridge has been beautifully restored as a spacious pedestrian bridge and offers superb views of the Black Oak river emptying into the harbour and the estuary beyond. The restored railway station is now home to the local council offices.

North of the bridge, St Patrick’s Catholic Church towers high above the town and is a fine example of the Irish Romanesque style. It is renowned for its stained glass window of The Last Judgement by eminent Irish glass artist Harry Clarke, one of 17 in eight churches around the county.

Newport Harbour

Newport Harbour, with the town, viaduct and church on the hill. Pic: Jonathan Billinger/Creative Commons

Newport is about a third of the way along the Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achill. Here a walker or cyclist can rest by the Black Oak river before continuing toward Mulranny and Achill. The river has good salmon and sea trout fishing, and permits are available from Newport House, which also owns part of nearby Lough Beltra.

The town has a number of pubs, several of which serve food, and Kelly’s Butchers at the top of the main street is famous for its award-winning black pudding.

The harbour is one of the most sheltered in Clew Bay, and many boats are moored there for the summer. It also has a wide slipway.

Near the town lie the ruins of the 15th century Burrishoole Abbey, once the centre of population in the area, and Rockfleet Castle, which, like so many in Mayo, has as its most famous past resident the Pirate Queen Granuaile.

 

History

The Medlycot landlords founded Newport Pratt in the early 18th century, through their lessee, Captain Pratt, although the town is now simply known as Newport. It was a centre for the linen trade and this is reflected in some place names, notably the Bleachyard lake just outside the town.

Stately Newport House, built by the O’Donels when they bought the estate in the late 18th century, is visible north of the estuary when approaching the town from Westport. Newport and Westport were competing for trade, and although Newport has the better harbour for access by larger ships, Westport rose to prominence in the 19th century.

Some of the houses on Medlicott Street, on the south side of the viaduct, date back to the foundation of the town and are notable for their exposed stone facades.

The grandfather of Princess Grace of Monaco, the actress Grace Kelly, was born near Newport. She and Prince Rainier were frequent visitors to the area, along with their children, and are remembered fondly by the locals, many of whom are named after the Princess. In April 2011, their son Prince Albert visited Newport with his bride-to-be Charlene Witstock, visiting the homestead and renewing the family connection with the area.

 

Newport on the map

 

Things to see near Newport

 

Pic: Creative Commons/Laurel LodgedJonathan Billinger/Creative Commons

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