First-time visitors enjoy Westport Quay

Paula Halpin and Robert Snikkar enjoying the vibe at The Point at Westport Quay

Paula Halpin and Robert Snikkar enjoying the vibe at The Point at Westport Quay

Being a visitor destination means not only does Westport get to capitalise on tourism to keep the local economy turning, but also, just by virtue of having so many different people coming all the time, you always have the chance to discover new minds and meet interesting folk - which helps grow your own world - without even leaving the spot!

At the Quay in Westport the Mayo Advertiser spoke to some first-time visitors who arrived after the recent June Bank Holiday weekend, when things had quietened down a little once again, with Paula Halpin and Robert Snikkar declaring themselves impressed with the chilled vibe and relaxed form of locals when they arrived here. Paula, originally from Dublin and now resident in Quebec, also lived in Ontario and in Toronto for over 30 years, with her partner Robert Snikkar, a native Torontonian.

Paula: “I am visiting Westport for my first time in, I guess, my sixth time visiting Ireland over 30 odd years. We come over once every five years if we can. This time we came for a wedding in Kildare and specially booked our two days for ourselves here in Westport. We came because we knew it was beautiful. I’ve always known that about Westport ever since I was a child. We like the west coast and its contrast to the east side, where we generally stay in Dublin with family. We tour around and always make sure we get to the West. This is our first time in Mayo and we were always told it was well worth coming to. It seems lovely so far but we’ve only been here about three hours!"

Robert: "I picked it out on the map, just looking at its location. I said, I gotta go there; and then I read more about it. It’s beautiful. We came to Westport by train and walked from the Mariner Hotel here to the Quay. We’ve got our feet on the ground now, we haven’t absorbed everything yet but just going through town and up to the Octagon, there is a nice laid-back vibe. It’s not too rushed or touristy; lots of cafes, nice little shops. I’m not formally religious but I wondered if that had something to do with the vibe, the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage element."

Paula: "There are some great things here but they don’t bash you over the head with signage. I just had some fish Tacos on the Quay and they were lovely. We live so far inland, we don’t get fish like this. I’m retired as a journalist about 10 years, I was mainly a magazine writer and editor. I still do some unpaid work now for the Toronto star - health reporting and hospital information. I went at 64 because I could see the writing on the wall in regard to the development of social media. We certainly have enjoyed so far being here and it’s interesting the perspective you get coming to Ireland every five years, how multicultural and diverse it is becoming, which we like, because Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in North America."

Robert: "Being an outsider my perspective is different. The changes become very clear to me on every visit. One change I really noticed this trip, not to do with Westport, but it probably does affect it; we were on the Dart train in Dublin. I remember before there used to be craic and talking. Now everybody is looking down at screens. We see this everywhere. There was a young couple on the journey down with us on the train - they never looked out the window once!"

Rae Dowds and Max Beckman from West Yorkshire

Rae: "We're from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, although I'm originally from Belfast. We came to Westport for a holiday after going to a wedding in the North, just outside Newry. We chose Westport because I just love the west coast.

"We've been in Connemara and Donegal, we came through Westport before but we wanted to come back to stay in it. I was here on Clare Island at a yoga retreat before. We're staying in the town. We only came today. What I love is that it's the west coast here, it's just so beautiful, it's close to Achill and I have friends we are going to visit outside Ballinrobe and also in Leitrim. We thought, come to Westport because it's a lovely little town, it's got everything there.

"We knew to come down to the Quay because we bumped in to friends who live in Hebdon Bridge who are here also! They are just going back today. They have been swimming here and recommended the Point. If we had our wetsuits we might venture in, it looks a bit cold! We are staying just until Saturday. We've been to Westport House, which was interesting; there's that history to the big houses during the Famine. We're going on a bicycle ride along the Greenway. We're getting a shuttle to near Achill and then we cycle back - on electric bikes! We're thinking now we might like to come again and stay for a while. We might go and climb Croagh Patrick. Hebdon Bridge is very hilly and we have two dogs, so we walk them every day and have a bit of practice."

Max added: "What I notice most about Westport is that it's small - but it seems to be an inclusive town."


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