To prepare you for those days when mother nature is not so kind while on holiday, here are our top six things for some rainy day fun in Westport.
Six things to do on a rainy day in Westport
1. Go back in time
Head to Westport Quay and step back in time at the Clew Bay Heritage Centre, situated in a 19th-century building on the quayside. Here, you can discover wonderful gems about the history of the planned town and its surrounding area from pre-Christian times.
A true treasure trove of artefacts, documents and photographs that create an awesome tapestry of local history, customs and traditions. The centre also offers a genealogical service, guided tours of the centre and group walks by appointment.
2. Get arty
The Custom House Studios and Gallery was set up in the 1980s, when a group of locally based artists put their creative heads together to push for a centre for the arts that offered both studio space and a dedicated exhibition space.
The old Custom House at the Quay was subsequently carefully restored, conserving its historical architectural features, and it now houses seven studios, a printmaking workshop and a beautiful two-storey, light-drenched gallery space. Check out the www.customhousestudios.ie to find out what’s on when you’re in town.
3. Be bathed in light
Take a spin to Newport, the next town up the road, take a pew in St Patrick’s Church and gaze at the magnificent stained-glass window. Depicting ‘The Last Judgement’, the triple window was the last made by the internationally renowned illustrator and stained-glass artist Harry Clarke. He died in 1931, at the age of just 41.
Clarke’s luminous windows are famed for their deep, rich colours, as well as their delicate, fairytale-like elongated figures with their finely wrought features and intense, expressive eyes. This magical artwork is embedded in the church’s east wall, so do try and get there in the morning to see the sunlight flowing through. Be warned: the third window is not for the fainthearted – it depicts the damned being cast down to hell, skeletons, ghouls, devils and all.
4. See how the other half lives
The house itself was first built in 1650 by Colonel John Browne and his wife, Maude Burke, Grace’s great-great-granddaughter. Over the years, it underwent several expansions under the sure-handed guidance of several celebrated architects. Over 30 opulent rooms are on show, containing original furnishing and fittings, fine decorative plasterwork, period antiques and works of art.
5. Play around
Okay, if you’ve kids, they might get a bit bored with ‘the cultural stuff’. Don’t panic! There’s a wide choice of kiddie-friendly fun in Westport too. Aside from the town’s cinema and fantastic municipal 25m swimming pool (with separate 12m children’s pool), there’s the Wild West Indoor Play Village, where they can get stuck into everything from arts and crafts to storytelling and face painting.
Westport House also has an indoor play facility – the Pirate’s Den soft-play area, perfect for younger kids and toddlers. Outside in the Pirate Adventure Park (open from April), there’s always the Pirate’s Plunge log-flume water ride – hey, it’s raining anyway, so you may as well let them get wet!
6. Go to the spa
Many of the hotels in Westport boast world-class spas, each offering their own signature treatments. Head to Westport Plaza’s Spa Sula thermal suites and find a tranquil sanctuary – and an outdoor hot tub. Knockranny House Hotel’s Spa Salveo offers everything from lavender floatation therapy to its Scandinavia-inspired Sami Zen treatment package.
Senses Spa at Hotel Westport offers a taste of Turkey with a hammam experience and traditional mud and steam treatments. Feel like a little bit of India in the west? The Spa at the Westport Coast Hotel offers a range of rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments.
You can find out more info on the best spas and places to stay in Westport here.