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

Belmullet is a seaport market town in Kilcommon Civil Parish, Erris Barony. A Coast Guard Station Headquarters was built here around 1822, Major Bingham founded the town in 1825 and a Quay was built in 1826. This Town was too early in its development to appear in Pigot's Commercial Directory of Ireland that came out in 1824 and it didn't make the list in Slater's Commercial Directory of Ireland that came out in 1846 either.

Denis Bingham, the founder of Belmullet, held 66.3 Statute acres in 1838 with the majority of it in Erris Barony, but by 1876 his holdings had decreased to 36.7. Many estates in Mayo were deeply in debt by the year 1849, but suprisingly enough after the decline in the textile industry and shift to grains, the recurrent failure or the potato crops, tenants inability to pay their rents resulting in decreased rent rolls, food riots, the landlords inability to pay the poor rates resulting in inadequate relief, and a host of other untoward factors, "of the top 40 estates in Mayo in 1838, 22 were still holding their own in 1876..." (Gillespie; McCabe, 1987, p. 110).

I was searching for the early beginnings of this market community, but was unable to find any evidence of a patent application for markets or fairs. They still took place; however, as "A market with monthly fairs on the 15th of each month evolved from about 1820." (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 85).

An improved road system with connections to Westport, Castlebar and Ballina (39 miles away) enhanced commercial activity in Belmullet. Belmullet's primary export became grains like oats and barley. (Lewis, 1837;2005, p. 202). (1800 tons were produced in 1834 and 1835).

The Griffith's Valuation was conducted for Kilcommon Erris Civil Parish in 1855. Most of the Townlands in this Civil Parish were fairly small. The Town of Belmullet is part of the Townland of Belmullet. Belmullet appears to have been the hub of economic and government activity for this Civil Parish. It housed the Grand Jury of County Mayo Courthouse, a Bridewell, Pound, Constabulary Barracks, Dispensary, National Schoolhouse, Irish Church Mission Society Schoolhouse, Roman Catholic Chapel, Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and Stores. I didn't see any designated fair greens or Tolls and Customs of Fairs in the Town of Belmullet. There were a variety of landlords listed for the Town of Belmullet when the Griffith's Valuation was conducted, but William Henry Carter, (in Chancery) was the most prevalent. Henry Bingham, is heavily represented in this Civil Parish, but suprisingly not in Belmullet. (Griffith's, 1847-1863; 2003, Kilcommon, Erris).