Don’t believe us? Well, here’s a few local cottage industries for you to check out while you’re in town. No air miles have been clocked up to get these products on the shelves… Support these local producers, and watch your carbon footprints shrink! (They’re lovely people too.)
Amazing Artisan Industries To Discover In Westport
Westport has lots to offer that you simply can’t get anywhere else, from food to art, beer to balm.
Bart and Cillian’s beer – Mescan
Named after St Patrick’s personal brewer, Mescan, the beers produced at the foothills of Croagh Patrick by Cillian Ó’Moráin and Bart Adons has become the stuff of local legend. This enterprising pair of ex-vets produce a range of heavenly, mostly Belgian-style craft beers. Offerings include the delicious Westport Blond, Westport White, Westport Red Tripel, Westporter Stout, Westport Saison (a light-bodied farmhouse pale ale) and Westport Extra (a medium-bodied triple). Lots to try – and sure, with St Patrick’s seal of approval guaranteed, indulgence is guilt free! Check out www.mescanbrewery.com, to find out about upcoming tours of the brewery.
Bláth’s Wonder Balm
While you’re wandering around town, keep an eye out for Bláth’s Wonder Balm, lovingly made by local woman Bláth Groonell. These little miracle pots contain the most gorgeous unisex skin balm, made from 100% natural ingredients – including all the good stuff, like seaweed, almond oil, calendula, marigold, rosehip, jojoba, avocado, vitamin E oil, apricot kernel butter, bees’ wax and aloe vera. Use it on your face, or anywhere that needs a little moisturising TLC. Oh, and it smells completely and utterly divine! You’ll find it in Ylang Ylang health store on James Street.
Patrick O’Reilly, who used to run Gracy’s restaurant at Westport House, now supplies Christy’s Harvest on Shop Street with his sourdough bread. While running Gracy’s, Patrick noticed that the stone pizza ovens were still warm in the morning after use the previous night. Being of entrepreneurial spirit, he thought he’d harness the heat to make sourdough bread, which he could serve at the restaurant in sandwiches and as an accompaniment to soup. The bread proved really popular, with many customers asking if they could buy loaves to bring home. Gracy’s would close during the winter, and so Patrick approached Christy about selling the bread from there to keep his loyal customers happy – and the rest is history! Patrick’s sourdough bread is now also available from Café Rua in Castlebar and Pier 23, the café in Liberty’s at The Quay.
Manar’s Middle Eastern Delights
Manar Salo came to Westport from Aleppo in Syria with her husband and four children back in September 2016. They have since established up a really successful food business, called Aleppo Food, which sells Middle Eastern delights at Westport Country Market. Sample their sumptuous savouries, like hummus, baba ghanoush, tahini, tabouleh and falafel, or plump for pastries and sweet treats like baklava, barazic, namoura, mshabak and ma’amoul dates. Try anything that Manar makes, and we guarantee you’ll be back for more! Mmmm. Westport Country Market is open every Thursday from 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM.
Visit artist Sheelyn Browne in her print gallery and studio at her home on Lower Quay Road, Westport, where her wonderful woodcut and linocut prints are on display to the public. Daughter of the late Lord Altamont Jeremy Brown of Westport House and a descendant of Grace O’Malley, Browne first became interested in relief cut printmaking while she was studying art in Dublin in the 1980s. One of the earliest forms of illustration, printmaking was also popular when Sheelyn’s ancestor, the Pirate Queen, was sailing the high seas in the 16th century. Drop into the gallery and gaze upon the beautiful prints, which include portraits, animals and birds, landscapes and more. Original woodcuts and linocuts are available for sale, as are Giclée prints and greeting cards. www.sheelynbrowne.com
Red’s Sauces & Dips
In his state-of-the-art kitchen just outside the town, Redmond Cabot uses natural ingredients only to create his signature range of delicious Cabots of Westport dips and sauces. There’s Red’s Beetroot and Sage Dip, Punchy Black Olive Tapenade, Red’s Natural Hummus, Red’s Crackin’ Chilli & Lime Hummus and of course the melt-in-your-mouth Smoked Mackerel Pate, which has its own cult following locally. Red first started selling his sauces in 2011 at local country markets. As word of his addictive culinary delights spread, the queues started to grow – and grow – and a new business was born. Watch out for his entertaining fortnightly food articles in The Mayo News too!
Got a sweet tooth? Well, prepare to give it the time of its life. Actually made by super-talented Sarah Flanagan, these homemade cupcakes are things of true beauty, but with flavour, depth and texture to match. This is not a case of style over substance. This is style AND dangerously delicious substance!
These heavenly cupcakes have become so popular that people have carried boxes of them to cupcake fans all over the country. To find out what the fuss is all about, head to Enrica’s Café, which is in the lovely Linenmill home-decor shop at Westport Demesne (the road leading to Hotel Westport).
Sarah has started to make wedding cupcakes too. Yes, that’s right. Massive, multi-tiered wedding cupcakes. Swoon. You’ll also find that she sells little mini cupcakes as well as the regular size. But don’t think you’re fooling anyone by buying a box of 12. We know you’re going to scoff them all yourself.
Chances are you’ll have come across Roger Harley’s pottery well before you set foot inside his colourful shop and studio,‘Absolutely Pottery’. The gorgeous glazed earthenware adorns the tables of many of Westport’s fine restaurants and cafés, not to mention the mantlepieces and kitchen shelves of many local homes. ‘Absolutely Pottery’ is perched on Quay Hill, itself sweeping like the upwards arc of a jug handle, leading visitors and locals out of Westport town towards the sea. Inside Roger’s shop, you’ll not only find a treasure trove of lovingly hand-crafted ceramics, you’ll also find a dedicated and passionate potter with an easy, infectious laugh, more than likely throwing clay on his potter’s wheel just behind the counter.
Roger blew into Westport from Claremorris back in 1995, and he has gone on to become one of the town’s most respected craftspeople, exhibiting his work all over the country and overseas. His technique is constantly evolving, constantly growing and changing – call in for a browse and let Roger fill you in.
Andrew and Mags’ Fabulous Flavours
Formerly known far and wide as the Carrowholly Cheese guy, Andrew Pelham-Burn and his partner Mags Duffy have branched into a whole new world, bringing his flair for food to a new area of the culinary arts: flavoured teas, spices, syrups and jellies. Trading under the moniker Carrowholly Enterprises, Andrew and Mags offers a variety of black, green, fruit and herb teas; a range of Indian, North American and North African spices; a selection of fruit jellies blended with herbs and chillies (delicious with cheese, meat and fish) and an assortment of syrups using locally sourced in-season ingredients. Their products are available in Westport in several outlets, including Westport Country Market and The Gallery.
Michael & Betty’s Puzzles
Michael and Betty Gannon first set up Little Birch Puzzles in 1989, and over the following three decades their adorable wooden puzzles have found their way into schools, playschools, Montessoris, creches, homes and children’s hearts all over the world. All of the puzzles are made from birch plywood that has been sourced from sustainable forests, and all are designed and handmade at Michael and Betty’s workshop in Liscarney, Westport. All stains and lacquers used are non-toxic, and they are suitable for children aged three years and over. And they’re educational too – some have several layers, inviting curious little minds to understand the connection between, say, a chicken and an egg, or honey and a bee. So cute… There are also nursery-rhyme puzzles, and, for the little narcissist in your life, made-to-order name puzzles! Check out the full, colourful range at littlebirchpuzzles.ie