Once upon a time in Westport House

Westport House
Westport House

Once upon a time I went to Westport House. I know this not from any particular memory but because there is a photograph from that day and it was a holiday that was later much spoken about. My mother wore a scarf on her head and a long skirt. I was one of three little girls, content in a world that did not extend very far beyond our family unit at that happy time.

The real event of the holiday was the death of Elvis Presley.

The sad news sparked an impromptu sing song in the hotel where we were staying. I remember the children being left to their own devices that night as the adults all descended on the bar to sing song after emotional song.

The other drama of the holiday was an afternoon at the beach when we became stranded by the incoming tide. We had had a picnic on some sort of grassy hillock and to get back to the car my father had to carry the two eldest children on his shoulders through the surging sea. My mother saved the baby and the picnic basket.

That little rescue scene is one of my happiest childhood memories. It comes from a time when our parents could protect us from anything and we liked nothing more than just being together.

By chance, or perhaps by some subconscious design, this week I found myself in Westport House again, thirty six years since the last visit. Our three little girls are now very close in age to the three little girls of 1977. And yes, we took a photograph on the steps of the house.

The stately home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Sligo now has a Pirate’s Park in the grounds, amusement rides and a mini train. But the house is as beautiful as ever and the sun obliged by coming out just before we left for this picture.

5 thoughts on “Once upon a time in Westport House

  1. That’s a really lovely story, Clare, and reminds me of so many childhood scenes of 3 little Sligo girls and a boy who spent many a Sunday afternoon on a drive to Westport, always with a picnic which was invariably eaten in the boot of the car because of the rain!

    1. Don’t know how I could let so many years go by without visting Co Mayo. Such a beautiful part of the world. We were very lucky with the rain this week – managed to do all the good stuff in between downpours 🙂 .

  2. Very evocative, Clare. Funny how children remember events that probably had their parents close to panic as if it was some delightful romp. I have a similar memory (four girls instead of three) and being caught by the tide on a long walk beneath the cliffs. I was a bit older, old enough to know it was dangerous. My dad was out in front carrying my youngest sister, but my mother was completely unflappable, miles behind, and never even seemed to hurry. By the time we reached a place where the cliffs ended in a cove, we were climbing over rocks to keep out of the rising water.

      1. I was terrified but my mum was so laid back, kept stopping to admire the scenery while the rest of us were scrambling over the rocks to keep out of the rising tide.

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