Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland: A Description of its Development and Characteristics

The Town of Ballinrobe was one of County Mayo's major market Towns of the 19th Century. Ballinrobe is incorporated into seven different Townlands: Ballinrobe Demesne, Carrownalecka, Cornaroya, Friarsquarter West, Knockferreen, Knockanotish and Rathkelly in Ballinrobe Civil Parish, Kilmaine Barony. The Town of Ballinrobe is located on the River Robe between the Towns of Hollymount and Cong, and is only 14 miles from Castlebar and 19 mile from Westport, two other major market Towns.

Thomas Nolan applied for and obtained a patent for a market and fairs in 1605. Crawford in "A Various Country - Essays in Mayo History 1500-1900" described Ballinrobe as being "clearly the fourth town in the county." (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 84, 81).

When the Statistical Survey of County Mayo was conducted in 1802, the Town of Ballinrobe was listed as having a market for grain and for cattle. The only fair dates that I saw listed in this resource for Ballinrobe was on June 7 and December 6. (McParlan, 1802;2007, p. 38, 47-51). Samuel Lewis goes on further in "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" to mention that Ballinrobe had a significant trade in wheat, corn and potatoes. He also mentioned a large Flour Mill, extensive Brewery, Malting Establishment and a Tanyard..." The fairs according to him were primarily for sheep and cattle. (Lewis, 1837;2005, p. 116).

Ballinrobe did not appear in the Connaught section of Pigot's Commercial Directory of Ireland in 1824, but it was a significant enough Market Town to appear in Slater's National Commercial Directory of Ireland by 1846.

When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted the Ballinrobe Civil Parish in 1857, the Town of Ballinrobe was documented as being part of the seven different Townlands as I mentioned above. The Following parcels of interest were noted in the Town of Ballinrobe in each of the seven Townlands: Ballinrobe Demesne had a Corn Mill, Herd's House, and an Board of Ordinance Cavalry Barracks, Carrownalecka had a Guardians of Ballinrobe Union Fever Hospital and there was a Graveyard. The Town of Ballinrobe itself had a forge, Roman Catholic Chapel and ruins. Knockanotish had a Flour Mill and Friarsquarter West had a Forge, Police Barracks, Ruins, Corn Mill, a Constabulary Barrack and a Graveyard. The Townland of Cornaroya was by far the largest of the seven and had the following: A Market and Court House, Board of Public Works, a Roman Catholic Chapel being constructed, a Church Mission Society Schoolhouse, the Guardians of Ballinrobe Union Dispensary, pound, Brewery, an unfinished Mill, the Sisters of Mercy had a Convent/ Chapel, and there was a Board of Education National Schoolhouse. The Townland of Knockfereen had a Corn-Kiln, Board of Guardians of Ballinrobe Union Workhouse, the Grand Jury of County Mayo Bridewell, forge and the Tolls and Customs of the Town of Ballinrobe. Finally the Town of Rathkelly portion of the Town of Ballinrobe had an Infantry Barracks and Ordinance Ground and the Board of Ordinance had a Plantation. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Ballinrobe).

There were many different landlords represented in the Town of Ballinrobe, but Colonel Charles Knox was probably the most prevalent, followed by Courtney Kenny, Alexander C Lambert, Eleanor M Courtney and Reverend James Anderson. According to De Burgh's documentation of Landlord holdings in " Landowners of Ireland 1878," Capt. Charles Knox of Ballinrobe, County Mayo held 24,374 acres in County Mayo and held 446 in County Donegal as well. (De Burgh, 1878;2007, p. 254)