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Hester Catherine De Burgh 2nd Marchioness (633×800)

Westport House Launches New Exhibition on Famine

Westport House was honoured to have U.S. Ambassador, Kevin O’Malley, join them on April 14th to open a brand new exhibition about the family and house’s efforts during the Great Famine.

Told – through a series of letters written by Lady Sligo – of the family’s contribution to helping the people of Westport and Mayo during a time of devastation. The letters of Hester Catherine Browne (1800-1878), second marchioness of Sligo, or Lady Sligo, tell the remarkable story of how her family responded to the catastrophe of the Great Hunger.

Ambassador O’Malley’s paternal grandparents emigrated from Westport in County Mayo approximately one hundred years ago. As Westport House is built on the ruins of an O’Malley castle and the Browne family who own the house are direct descendants of Grace O’Malley, the notorious Pirate Queen, the Brownes are delighted to welcome U.S. Ambassador “home”.

The exhibition was originally compiled by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute and the Arnold Bernhard Library of Quinnipiac University by Professor Christine Kinealy, Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute. The support of the Browne family and the staff at Westport House is gratefully acknowledged.

“We are truly honoured to have crossed paths with Professor Christine Kinealy, without whom the opportunity of this wonderful exhibition making its way all the way to Westport from Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute in Quinnipiac University, would never have happened. And to have US Ambassador opening the exhibition for us truly is the icing on the cake,” Said Sheelyn Browne, joint managing director of Westport House. “This exhibition belongs in Westport. It captures a very personal insight into one very privileged generation of the Browne family who, in 1845, were unexpectedly landed with a huge sense of duty. Thankfully they followed the family motto ‘Suivez Raison’ and did do the right thing. They rolled their beautifully ironed linen sleeves up and did their absolute best to ease the desperate situation in their home town, both practically and financially.”

This exhibition is yet another great reason for culture vultures to visit beautiful Westport House and is included in the admission price to Westport House & Grounds. Please visit for all details.

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