Five things to do on a day trip to Newport

Five things to do on a day trip to Newport

Visitors to Westport love to explore her beautiful surrounds, and within a stone’s throw lies lovely Newport. Just seven miles north of Westport, this picturesque town is a short spin away in the car. Or really immerse yourself and cycle to Newport on our famous Great Western Greenway, which meanders along the old Westport to Achill railway line.

Here are five things to make sure you do when you get there – all doable in one day trip. Then fall back into the arms of Westport that evening.

One of the first things to greet the visitor to Newport is the magnificent Seven Arches Bridge. Built around 1892, this striking red sandstone structure passes over over the Black Oak River, also known as the Newport River.

While trains to and from Achill once crossed this elegant feat of engineering, none has done so since the autumn of 1937. Tragically, the last train to travel the route carried the bodies of ten young migrant workers who had died in a fire in Scotland back to their native Achill Island.

Today, the viaduct has been restored as a broad pedestrian bridge, and it offers stunning views of the river flowing into the harbour and the estuary beyond. It is particularly impressive at night, when floodlights show off its arches’ contours to great effect.

Take a pew in St Patrick’s Church and gaze at the magnificent stained-glass window on the church’s east wall. Depicting ‘The Last Judgement’, the triple-panelled window was the last made by internationally renowned illustrator and stained-glass artist Harry Clarke, and it is said to be his most beautiful. His work was influenced by both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements; his stained glass was particularly informed by the French Symbolist movement. He died of TB in 1931, at the age of just 41.

Clarke’s extraordinary stained-glass windows are world famous for their deep, rich colours – especially their luminous blue hues – as well as their delicate, fairytale-like elongated figures with their finely wrought features and intense, expressive eyes.

Towering high on a small Clew Bay inlet five miles west of Newport, romantic 16th-century Rockfleet Castle was once a stronghold of legendary pirate queen Gráinne Mhaol (Grace O’Malley). Boasting four floors and standing more than 18 metres, it was built by Risteárd Bourke, who Gráinne wedded in 1566. Risteárd was known as Richard-in-Iron, not only because he owned the local iron works, but because it is said he always wore a coat of chain mail that he inherited from his Anglo-Norman ancestors. Gráinne Mhaol died in Rockfleet Castle – or Carraigahowley Castle as it is sometimes called – in 1603.

According to local lore, valuable treasure that was once hidden in the castle is now buried somewhere in the surrounding fields. But think twice before getting out the metal detectors; it is said that whoever unearths the treasure will be whisked away to The Otherworld by a headless horseman.

A well-kept secret, Rosturk beach boasts a wide sandy strand and countless islands that can be reached on foot at low tide. All this natural splendour is overlooked by romantic Rosturk Castle, which sits regally on a rocky headland.

To get to this hidden gem, head west from Newport, along the N59 – watch out for the left-hand turn before Mulranny. The bewitching beach lies at the end of a brief but equally beguiling woodland drive.

Organise a horse trek along the miles of sandy beach with Carrowholly Stables & Trekking Centre, or spend a few hours exploring rock pools, building castles of your own and gazing across Clew Bay to Croagh Patrick.

All this sight seeing is hungry work. Be sure to stop off to refuel along the way in the welcoming Riverside Café, just 2km from Newport on the Newport-to-Mulranny Greenway.

Step into this pretty little café, housed in a restored 150-year-old cottage, and be transported back to a gentler time. Pretty crockery and charming tea cosies complement the delicious fare on offer – sandwiches, pancakes, soups, salads and more, as well as one of the nicest cups of coffee around. And we haven’t even mentioned the tempting selection of homemade sweet treats. Linger over a scone, dawdle over a slice of cake. Divine.