BALLINTOBBER, a parish, in the barony of Carra, county of Mayo, and province of Connaught, 8 miles (N.N.W.) from Ballinrobe; containing 6,212 inhabitants.
This parish, the name of which signifies in the Irish language the "town of the well," probably derived that appellation from a spring which descends from a natural arch in a rock, with such force as to act like a shower bath, and near which is no other stream whatever.
Cathol O'Conogher, King of Connaught, in 1216, founded an abbey here for Canons Regular of the order of St. Augustine, which he dedicated to the Holy Trinity; it was burned in 1263, but was restored, and continued to flourish till the dissolution; in 1605 a lease of it was granted in reversion for 50 years to Sir John King, Knt.
This abbey is said to have been erected on the site of an ancient castle, in which were buried the former lords of Mayo; and part of its remains are now converted into a R.C. chapel. The buildings appear to have been truly magnificent, and many of the ruined portions are still entire in their principal features; though the principal tower has fallen, the lofty arch on which it was supported is still remaining, and nearly 50 feet high; the doorway is a beautiful specimen of the pointed receding arch, supported on each side by a range of five columns.
The parish is situated on the road from Castlebar to Ballinrobe. There is a wide extent of mountain, exclusively of which the land is nearly equally divided between arable and pasture; and there is a considerable tract of wood and flooded lands.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Tuam, entirely appropriate to the vicars choral of the cathedral of Christ Church, Dublin; the tithes amount to £240. In the R.C. divisions the parish is united to those of Burriscarra and Towaghty; the chapel is at Killavalla. There are three daily pay schools, in which are about 170 boys and 40 girls.