I was lucky to be born in the gorgeous town of Westport in County Mayo.
Our friend Wiki describes it thus:"Westport (Irish: Cathair na Mart, meaning "stone fort of the beeves", historically anglicised as Cahernamart) is a town in County Mayo, Ireland. It is at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland.
The town center was designed by James Wyatt in 1780, in the Georgian architectural style. Its layout follows the medieval principles of urban design introduced by the Normans in the 13th century. The design for the town was commissioned by the Lord Sligo of the nearby stately home, Westport House, as a place for his workers and tenants to live. A particular feature is the incorporation of the river into the composition, contained for two blocks by low stone walls producing, on each side of the river, attractive tree lined promenades (The Mall) with several stone bridges over the river Carrow Beg. The layout further includes several tree lined streets, addressed by the narrow fronted commercial buildings typical of Irish towns, though with many here remaining of a singular refinement and charm. Some modern interventions, such as the Garda station, are less successful in maintaining the original continuity of the urban fabric.
It was the home of the pirate chief, Gráinne Ní Mháille, in the mid-to-late 16th century.
The famous pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick, known locally as "the Reek", lies some 10 km west of the town near the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. The mountain offers a striking backdrop to the town. The church on the summit can just be made out with the naked eye from Westport.
Westport is a popular tourist destination and has won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition three times in 2001, 2006 and 2008."
If you have the time, check out Gráinne Ní Mháille (Grace O'Malley) mentioned above, or Grainuaile
as she was more commonly known. A distant relative of mine who was partial to English and Spanish gold some 500 years ago. Popular legend has it that Grainuaile had flaming red hair and a crew who would have died for her, but then you know how careless pirates can be with their leg ends...
Bad jokes aside; and you're likely to get plenty in this blog, it's a lovely place with some amazing bars and restaurants and over the years I regularly faced the question 'where are you from?'
'Westport' I'd say, 'in Ireland.'
'Oh', would be the popular response....'is that the North or South?'
I knew I had them at that point and never could resist.
'It's in the West'....cue a blank look as some considered, '****, does that make him a catholic or a protestant??'
So I would detail further.
"It's on the extreme west coast. Think 9 o clock...in fact the next village along is New York and on a clear day you could see the twin towers.'
'Oh yes, but that was before the incident, you can't see them now.'
When uttered with a straight face and a hint of 'how could you not know this?', you'd be surprised how accepting some people are of this tale! Which of course is ridiculous, given the distance, the curvature of the Earth and the fact that the Statue of Liberty was in our direct line of vision.
Anyway, I've digressed.
My parents both owned their own businesses and they used to go out together two nights in the week. A Wednesday night and a Friday night. On a Wednesday, they would go to a local pub and play cards....a game called twenty five. We used to play it at home also as a family, along with five card poker and some other creatively named games that I've never heard of since.
We loved cards. Everyone did it seems and somewhere down the road, this love of cards resurfaced in an idea I had as I was sat watching an early episode of the World Poker Tour - which was a spellbinding series at that time.
What if I could create that level of experience for players like myself, who loved poker as a social outlet and for a bit of fun, but wouldn't want to put a silly amount of money on the table in return. This was late 2004. A year and a half before APAT was born.