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

Swineford (Swinford as it is more commonly known) was one of the major market towns of County Mayo in the 19th Century. It is located between Foxford and Balaghadireen and is 15 miles from Ballina, 17 miles from Clare and 19 miles from Castlebar; all five are major market towns. The town of Swinford is incorporated into the Townland of Swinford in Kilconduff Civil Parish, Gallen Barony. It falls within a centrally located corridor that runs down through the middle of County Mayo like other thriving market towns.

The Brabazon Family was responsible for Swinford's origins in the late 18th century, acquiring land during the "Cromwellian Settlement." (O'Hara, 1982, p. 32). The primary Brabazon line died off fairly early in the 19th century; however, some Brabazon descendents married into the Palmer Line and remained influential with the Brabazon-Palmer connection. According to the book "History of Mayo," The Brabazons of Swinford, like many others had lost significant land value of their estate and sold off a portion of it to protect what was left. The Brabazon Estate at Swinford was really large, overlapping into three different parishes. Part of this estate was sold around 1850 as the famine years took a toll on their tenants ability to pay rent, causing the Brabazons financial hardship. They somehow managed to keep the mansion, demesne and part of the estate until it was transferred in 1941. (Quinn, Volume 4, Chapter 11, p. 333, 335).

It appears that at some point a patent was obtained for markets and fairs at Swineford, but the applicants name and date weren't given. By 1850, Swinford was holding a market without one. (Gillespie; Crawford, 1987, p.90).

By the time the 1802 Statistical Survey of County Mayo was conducted, Swineford had a market for grains and cattle and fairs were held on May 20, July 2 and December 18. (McParlan, 2007, p. 37,46-51). By the time Slater's Commercial Directory of Ireland came out in 1846, Swineford was documented as having a market for pigs, provisions and corn, etc on Tuesdays. (Slater, 1846;2005, p. 142).

The Town of Swineford was obviously the economic center of Kilconduff Civil Parish when the Griffith's Valuation was conducted. The Townland of Swineford was home to the Guardians of the Poor of Swineford Union Model Farm, the Workhouse and a Plantation. The Town of Swineford was home to the Grand Jury of County Mayo Bridewell and Courthouse, Constabulary Force and Revenue Police Barracks, a Dispensary, Board of Education National Schoolhouse, Roman Catholic Chapel, a Church and Burial Ground. There weren't any documented "Fair Greens" or "Tolls of Customs of Fairs" in Swineford or in any other Townlands in Kilconduff Civil Parish according to the Valuation. (Griffith, 1847-1864;2003, Kilconduff).

In a compilation of Mayo Industries in the book "Mayo Aspects of its Heritage," that covers industries from 1829 to 1981 in County Mayo, Swineford 's earliest listing was St. Attracta's Knitting Industry, established in 1932, followed by Ronane Bros. Ltd (Furniture) in 1956, Michael Rowley (Joinery) in 1966, Swinford Manufacturing Company (Blouses) in 1971, Seamus Golden (Engineering) in 1973 and Travelol Laboratories S. A. (Health Care) in 1977. (O'Hara, 1982, p.301-303). It is interesting to note that the Linen and Yarn Trades appear to still have some momentum as late as 1932 when the knitting industry was established.