Mafia connections, the Emerald Isle and a Highland Fling travel blog

Shrine with Croag Patrick in background

Charming stone bridge at Westport

Dan at the 'Coffin Ship' Famine Memorial

Another pretty view of Westport

Westport is a very pretty Georgian town by the riverside with its main street shops all hung with huge stunning floral basket displays. The town must have had a huge budget for flowers at it was absolutely blooming everywhere. We were also spoilt for entertainment as every second building was a charming old pub and most had live music. There were also some buskers performing in the streets. We had dinner at one pub and then barhopped to listen to different musicians. I have continued choosing seafood dishes every night as we are on the coast. I had a lovely panfried sole and Grae had Bangers and Mash. They were both huge portions.

Nearby is Croagh Patrick, the mountain where St Patrick (the Patron Saint of Ireland) is said to have fasted for 40 days and nights and where he also banished venomous snakes.

He was a Christian missionary who converted Ireland to Christianity way back in 400AD.

Croagh Patrick draws thousands of pilgrims who make the trek to the top on the last Sunday in July. You can walk up the 772 metre mountain and many people do, but as the weather wasn't great we didn't.

Near the start of the trail is the National Famine Memorial, a poignant sculpture of a three-masted ship surrounded by swirling skeletons. This memorial commemorates the many lives lost on the "coffin ships" that so many died on, while being sent to Canada and America during the Potato Famine.

The term 'coffin ship' is reserved for those that set sail during the Famine of the 1840s, often unseaworthy and overcrowded and nearly always with inadequate provisions of drinking water, food and sanitation. Staggering statistics of the Potato Famine were that it resulted in the death of roughly one million Irish from starvation and related causes, with at least another million forced to leave their homeland as refugees. We hadn't realised that John F. Kennedy's Great Grandparents had also left Ireland to escape the Potato Famine.

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