New €75.5m. masterplan 'will transform Westport House into world-class beacon of tourism'
Westport Estate, home to one of Ireland’s most popular heritage attractions, Westport House, has welcomed today’s announcement that it has been awarded Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth grant for Heritage and Cultural Attractions, worth €20.2 million.
The funding will be part of an ongoing, ambitious masterplan that plans to transform Westport Estate into a world-class tourism destination and visitor attraction and benefit the overall region.
Westport Estate is owned by the Hughes Group, the Mayo family behind the globally successful clothing manufacturing company, Portwest.
The overall vision of the Hughes family is to reimagine the entire offering within the 433-acre grounds as part of a €75 million masterplan, which also includes the redevelopment of Hotel Westport.
Through Portwest, Hotel Westport and Westport House, the group currently employs 500 people in Westport, a number which is set to grow by an estimated 450 construction jobs and an additional 245 new jobs over the course of the full development plan.
Additionally, it is expected that Westport Estate will attract over 277,000 visitors to the key attractions supported by Failte Ireland by 2033, generating a huge economic and tourism boost for the entire northwest region.
Among the key areas of work that will be supported by the Fáilte Ireland grant and in partnership with acclaimed designer Mary Reynolds, Westport Estate will be creating a very different and uniquely Irish re-wilded landscape experience connecting the earth with Irish heritage.
The restoration of Westport House and the reimagining of its 300-year history will be a strong feature.
In addition, a brand-new immersive visitor experience will be created that tells the legendary story of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connacht.
Owen Hughes, director of Westport Estate, commented: “We are absolutely thrilled with the news today.
"As a local family we are extremely proud to have provided employment for generations through Portwest and more recently within Westport Estate.
"Our vision is to help transform Westport House and the entire Estate into a world-class beacon of tourism for both Mayo and the entire country and this partnership with Fáilte Ireland will play a pivotal role in achieving this.”
Barry O’Connor, CEO of Westport Estate, said: “We are incredibly proud that Westport Estate has been awarded the Fáilte Ireland grant.
"The funding, along with the investment from the Hughes family, will enable us to take our offering to the next level and transform Westport Estate into a world-class tourism destination and visitor attraction.
"We have a bright, bold vision for the future, one that is built on sustainability, innovation, and heritage and this public-private partnership will have a hugely positive impact on Westport and the wider region.”
Earlier this year, works commenced on Westport House which is phase one of the restoration project and is expected to be completed by the autumn.
Estimated to cost in the region of €5 million, it will see much-needed conservation work carried out to the Georgian-era home to help prepare it for the larger project ahead.
Local TD Michael Ring stated: Deputy Michael Ring stated: “The restoration and re-imagining of the Westport House and Gardens Estate offers visitors a multi-layered, multi-day experience.
"A key element is the ‘Wild Realms’ project which will allow visitors to connect with nature and absorb the vibrant sights, smells and sounds of the wild flora and native woodlands across the estate.
"The new attraction, over the 300-acre estate will allow visitors to explore ancient Irish rituals and our ancestors’ connections to the land as told through a series of accessible wild and natural spaces. Westport House and Gardens will also be restored.
"Visitors can enjoy the enhanced experience of the grand house with its formal gardens and learn about the Grace O’Malley family who lived there for centuries.
“This funding and subsequent development will entice domestic and international tourists to the West of Ireland for years to come”.
“I wish to take this opportunity to once again compliment the Hughes family on purchasing Westport House and continuing to develop this wonderful attraction”.