Architecture of Castlebar in Co. Mayo

Breaghy House

Scottish baronial, by an English architect, William Fawcett, for Dominic Browne (1881). The Brownes had lost most of their lands through their allegiance to the house of Stuart, and their home mirrors their unsuccessful sacrifice to a Scottish cause.

Institutional entrance front (Fawcett extended unmemorably, several colleges in Cambridge) in rough-hewn limestone with sandstone window surrounds. Livelier garden front with diagonal tower offset by polygonal turret. Now extended as a hotel (Breaffy House Hotel).

Catholic Church:

Church of the Holy Rosary

The largest church built by Doolin in his characteristic gothic style(1892-1902). Unfinished façade flanked by monumental gateways. Double transepts externally expressed, internally concealed by the arcading of the nave. The choir equally heavyweight, well able to shrug off puerile alterations by liturgical reformers after the Second Vatican Council. Reredos by James Pearce. High altar carved in Italy and polychromatic pulpit (1908). Glass by Mayer of Munich, especially notable over the altar.

Castlebar Imperial Hotel (now Daly’s Hotel)

A Georgian coaching inn conceals a late Victorian top-lit timber-paneled dining room that retains the ambiance of a Somerville and Ross world destined to be swept away by the National Land League founded here by Michael Davitt in 1880.

Castlebar Post Office

The liveliest architecture in the town; stylistically close to the Westport Post Office and therefore evidently designed by J.H. Pentland for the Board of Works, in 1906, here working too far from his head office to be questioned over the extraordinary wrought-iron scrolls that uphold the gutters: no doubt all that rain in the west of Ireland called for extra precautions. Facades treated with a forceful horizontal combination of brick and stone, but oblivious of the sloping site.

St Mary’s Hospital Castlebar

Designed by George Wilkinson (c.1860), who had just extended the courthouse here with its cast-iron fluted doric portico. The Lunatic Asylum is also in a severe neo-classical idiom, but reflects the disintegration of Georgian conventions. The long façade is punctuated by a series of pavilions treated like a series of townhouses that link in an unexpected Italianate centre block to over-dominant corner blocks of unrelieved austerity, so that the overall composition subverts conventional formality. Built out of local limestone pared to the minimum. Latter-day descendants would be mental hospitals in Downpatrick and Ennis. Here, however all later additions and alterations have been made uncomprehendingly from the sedate late gothic revival chapel by Dixon onward to the present day.

Article by Brian Hoban