Sculpture symbolises Westport’s ‘enduring spirit’

Minister says efforts are continuing to keep historic Mayo house out of private hands


Efforts are being made behind the scenes to ensure the historic Westport House in Co Mayo will not fall into private ownership, according to Minister of State for Tourism Michael Ring.

Mr Ring was speaking at the unveiling of a sculpture depicting “a spirit horse and rider” that overlooks the town.

The sculpture symbolises Westport’s “enduring spirit” and location on the pilgrim path towards Croagh Patrick.

Entitled The Sentinel, the six-metre high bronze and steel sculpture, by Achill-based sculptor Ronan Halpin, was unveiled by the US ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley.

It was commissioned by Westport Town Council in 2013 to celebrate the town’s receipt of The Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland award.

Referring to the fact that Nama is selling off a loan attached to Westport House, Mr Ring said: “There is an issue with Westport House. I want to reassure the people of Westport, and surrounding areas, that myself and the council are working behind the scenes to deal with this problem and to ensure it won’t fall into private hands. Westport House and the Browne family are part of the infrastructure of this town.”

Representing The Irish Times, Kathy Sheridan said the idea for The Best Place to Live was devised at an Irish Times meeting during the recession.

“The people in general were so damned tired of dismal stories of economic woe that we decided to take on a project that would emphasise some of the other more appealing aspects of Irish life.”