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

The Town of Louisburgh (a.k.a. Lewisburgh) is part of the Townland of Clooncarrabaun and Glebe in Kilgeever Civil Parish, Murrisk Barony. Louisburgh is located on Clew Bay, about 11 miles from Westport, which was one of the primary market towns of County Mayo and a significant port area in the early 19th Century.

Louisburgh was named in honor of the Marquis of Sligo's wife, Lady Louisa. (Quinn, 1996, volume 2, Chapter 21, p. 221). The Marquis of Sligo developed Louisburgh with the intention of bringing in Presbyterian and Protestants from the North who were familiar with brine manufacture. He had hoped that they would be the foundation for a thriving Town; however, his plans were derailed when many of the people he enticed to come disliked living there. (Quinn, 1996, Volume 2, Chapter 22, p.244-245).

The Earl of Altamont applied for and obtained a patent in 1795 for fairs in Louisburgh. (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p. 89). When the statistical survey of County Mayo was conducted in 1802, Louisburgh didn't have a market for grain or cattle; fairs were held on June 24, August 4, September 28 and October 30, and there was an active Salmon Fishery as well. (McParlan, 1802; 2007, p. 37-38; 45-46; 48-50 and 95).

"A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" mentions that a Market for provisions was held in addition to the above-mentioned fairs. (Lewis, 1984, p. 259).

When the Griffith's Valuation was conducted for Kilgeever Civi Parish, it was evident that the Town of Louisburgh was the hub of economic activity. Louisburgh was the home to the Grand Jury of County Mayo Courthouse, the Tolls and Customs of Fairs, a Dispensary, Kiln, Forge and Corn Mill, National Schoolhouse and Roman Catholic Chapel. The portion of Louisburgh that was part of the Townland of Glebe didn't mention any significant commercial parcels. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Kilgeever). I have heard that there was a hedge school located south of Louisburgh in the Townland of Tully. It is hard to comprehend what Irish Catholic School Children and their School Masters went through in the pursuit of education.

The Marquis of Sligo was the predominant Landlord in Louisburgh when the Valuation was conducted. He and Lord Lucan pretty much dominated the Townlands of Kilgeever Civil Parish; the Marquis of Sligo held two salmon fisheries as well.