Friday morning we made our way Northwards into County Mayo, one of the worst affected areas during our famine years. Here you see Karen pictured in the town of Westport in the area known as the Mall. Westport is a really lovely town which once again this year has come away with an award as one of Ireland's most beautiful and tidy towns in our annual Tidy Towns competition. It was from the harbour in Westport that thousands of poor starving and dying people boarded all kinds of boats in an attempt to escape the famine. It is a know fact that while people were dying on the streets and on the harbour quays of Westport, shiploads of food were being exported by the British.
The monument to St Patrick in the centre of Westport.
Croagh Patrick, (pronounced Croke) is St Patrick's holy mountain and is located on the outskirts of Westport town. It is a special place of pilgrimage. Thousands of pilgrims climb this mountain annually. This photo does not actually show you the peak, as it was shrouded in mist when we were there on Friday. I have to admit that we did not climb the mountain that day.
The memorial of this famine ghost ship is a stark reminder of the over one million people who starved to death during the great famine. It stands at the foot of Croagh Patrick.
This castle/stately home was the home of the Fitzgerald's, a family of Norman origin who lost their power when they opposed the English during the reign of Elizabeth. It now hosts the Museum of Country Life in Turlough on the outskirts of Castlebar and i would highly recommend it as a place to visit. It is a branch of the National Museum of Ireland and houses a wonderful collection of memorabilia. For someone like me it brings back many happy/sad memories. There is also a lovely little restaurant there and the food is excellent and reasonable.
A collection of woven straw/made harnesses etc for horses which are on view in the museum.
This full size Currach, the most commonly used fishing boat used by the fishermen on the west coast of Ireland. These boats were extremely light and, when handled properly, were ideally suited for fishing in the rough waters off the west coast.
Some of the beautiful flowers in the gardens at Turlough.
Here you see Karen examining this amazing tree in the grounds at Turlough. God only knows how old this tree is but it is a wonderful sight.
This was a really nice day in an area that now has so much to offer and which once upon a time was a place from which to escape. There was an expression commonly used if you said you were from Mayo. People would respond...."Mayo God Help Us". Today Mayo is alive and well, and more than worth a visit.