Gentry Houses, Castlebar in Co. Mayo

Mount Gordon House

Sir William Boyd Knight lived at Mount Gordon House situated on the Westport Road now residence of the Mc Donnells. A Mrs. Mc Clung who had estates in Turlough parish previously owned it. There is an island in Lough Lannagh called Boyd’s Island. At this time, shortly after the Act of the Union1800, the Boyds were Protestants and had burial plots at Christ Church. The mother of Dr. Boyd Barrett (Medical Inspector Local Government Department) was a member of the Boyd family. They became Catholics in the early 1900’s.

An engraving on Sir Williams’s tomb reads: Here lies the remains of Sir William Boyd, Knight, M.D., who departed this life August1813, aged 69 yrs. His medical skill was profound, his learning vast and extensive, his liberality boundless, his probity unblemished, his manner modest and engaging. Manly and alert, he was equaled by a few and surpassed by none, A friend who knew him well pays this humble tribute of respect and regret.

There is another slab near this one bearing the inscription: Here lies the body of Alexander Boyd, Esquire, M.D., who departed this life on the 7th Sept, 1791 in the 62nd year of his age. Also to the memory of Patrick Boyd, Esq., of Mount Gordon, who departed this life on the 11th. July 1810 aged 65years. Also to the memory of Mary, wife of the above, who died at Mount Gordon on the 25thJuly 1865 aged 79 years.

A third tomb bears the inscription: Sacred to the memory of Patrick Boyd, Esquire, who died 11th. March 1819, aged 89 years. A man of profound mathematical knowledge and eminently conspicuous in every walk of life, he died as he had lived, respected and regretted by all capable of appreciating his worth and his many qualities.

Marsh House

Marsh House situated at Newtown St. is now a municipal building housing the Castlebar Urban District Council. At the time when St. Claire O Malley lived at Marsh House there was a landing stage where the lawn now is. In those days people living adjacent to the lake, which was open for boats as far as Islandeady, took the farm produce, cattle and turf, to Castlebar by water. When the roads were made and carts introduced this mode of transport was discontinued. The lake at this time was considerably more extensive. When the river from Castlebar to Ballynew Mills was canalised, the lake was reduced in size and Boyd’s island became an isthmus.

The Feeney family in the early part of the 20th century occupied Marsh House. There is a plaque to their memory bearing the inscription: TO THE MEMORY OF PATRICK J. AND SARAH FEENEY, THEIR CHILDREN HUBERT, MAY, NELLIE AND MADGE.

Erected by Lauretta Feeney Biggeln 19th September 1979.

Madge Feeney occupied the premises up to the 1960's.

The Grove

The Grove situated at Charles St., beside the offices of the E.S.B. was owned by the Faulkner family until 1993. It had been the residence of James Faulkner J.P. (1825-1911). James father Anthony had been lessee of tolls and customs for Lord Lucan.

Sir Frederick Cavendish said on founding The Telegraph in 1828 that his main purpose was to expose fraud and injustice wherever it occurred. One area he chooses to attack was the imposition of levies and tolls. There were two court cases between Cavendish and Anthony Faulkner in 1830 and 1839 over the issue of tolls. Shortly after the second court appearance Faulkner retired and lived at Staball.

During the Great Famine Lord Lucan ordered his agents known as “The Crowbar Brigade” into Staball to evict tenants who were in arrears with their rents. All the tenants were evicted and their houses flattened by Lucan’s men except for Anthony Faulkner and his wife Bridget. James and his brothers and sisters lived with their parents at this time.

James took over the lease of the tolls from Lord Lucan in 1852. There were weighbridges at Knockthomas and Shambles Square (known today as Market Square) and a crane at Shambles Square. Around this time there was a Government enquiry to report on fairs and markets. Cavendish in an article in the Connaught Telegraph denounced "James, the Craner servant of Lord Lucan".

By this time James had several business interests in the area including a business at Market Street and was lessee of 18 cottages at Staball. In 1862 he married Maria Theresa Walshe.

James seemed to have a social conscience and attended a Tenants Rights Banquet in 1856. At a Board of Guardians meeting in 1860 he proposed that the workhouse bake their own bread as a means of cutting down expenditure. In the 1860’s he solicited help for the destitute in the area from a Mr. Barrington in Dublin with whom he conducted business. Mr. Pimm promised help from the Quakers and a subscription was received from a Mr. Bewley of Dublin. Mr. Faulkner was commended at the Board of Governors for his interest.

He was selected as Chairperson of the Town Commissioners in 1867, a position to which he was elected annually for 30 years.

In 1869 James and his wife Maria took up residence at The Grove, a fine residence with an avenue lined with beech trees and an enclosed garden and orchard. The residence also had a coach house and stables.

In 1877 James purchased properties at Pheasant Hill, Derrylea and Derrycoosh and 3 further businesses in the town. As a landlord he was fair and in 1879 The Telegraph reported that James had given abatement of a half years rent to tenants on his Pheasant Hill property. In 1888 his mother Bridget died and the following year his wife Maria. In 1889 he sold his property at Derrylea to the Congested District Board and brought further property at Knockthomas the following year.

In 1893 James was appointed Justice of the Peace and was described in The Telegraph as “a model Landlord”. His son Thomas qualified as a barrister in 1890. In 1896 , he handed over his business at Market St. to his son James J. Faulkner. In 1899 he sold off his entire property at Pheasant Hill to the Congested District Board. In 1900 his son James died and his brother Francis took over the business. In 1904 James retired from the Urban District Council. In March 1911 he was injured in an accident and died on October 11th of the same year. His obituary described him as “Connaughts Merchant Prince”.

Francis died on August 7th 1913 and Dr. Alfred J. took over the business. Both Alfred and his brother Thomas, the barrister were members of the U.D.C. Thomas retired early and lived off the rents from property. His wife opened a nursing home at The Grove in 1926.

The property remained in the Faulkner family until 1993 when his daughter Kathleen sold it to a local builder who built 24 semi-detached houses on the property.

Article by Brian Hoban