In the mid-fifties, tourism was still something of a cinderella industry. The known tourism resorts at that time relied mainly on a home market for business. Few places realised the tremendous impact that could be made on the economy of a local community by promoting tourism – hardly a thought had been given to the greatest resource of all, the sea.
Westport was fortunate in a lot of ways. It had few dedicated anglers and boatmen who knew something about sea angling, it had a wonderful untapped resource in Clew Bay, and it also had a good team of local businessmen who had the foresight to form a tourist development .
Westport Sea Angling Club was established, and the great International Festival of Westport became a reality in 1956. It immediately broke all records in fishing terms and in the clientele it attracted. Westport Quay buzzed with the many languages of the anglers of many nations who came in great numbers year after year to do battle with the fish in Clew Bay.
What has followed is truly remarkable. Sea Angling has since become of major significance to the tourist industry in Ireland, and similar festivals have sprung up all over the country.