A Brief History of Tooreen in Co. Mayo

Tooreen is situated 5 miles from Ballyhaunis on the Charlestown road in the Parish of Aghamore. There are three churches in the Parish, Aghamore, Woodfield and Tooreen.

In the early 1920's Tooreen Village as we know it today did not exist. The only School in the area was in Crossard, one mile south of Tooreen. The people from the area travelled to Aghamore to attend Mass.

In 1924 plans were drawn up for the building of a church in Tooreen, a site was puchased from David Spellman and the new church was blessed on the 8th December 1926. The builders were the Robinson brothers from Huntsfield.

Shortly afterwards a site for a new School was purchased from Edward Mulrennan, across the road from the church. The new school was opened in 1929. In the early 1920's there was a forge in Spellman's land near where the Post Office is at present, the black-smith was Dave Spellman.

Shortly after the school was opened, Mulrennans built and opened a shop adjoining their house which was next door to the school.

The field where the Basketball court is situated was once owned by Murphy's. This field was bought by Leo Forkan in the mid 1940's. In 1950 Austin and Margaret Henry purchased a site on the North side of this field from Mr Forkan and built a house and shop there.

In 1944 Fr Horan was appointed curate in Tooreen, and shortly after arriving he bought a site from Mulrennan and his new house was built and ready to move into in December 1945.

Shortly after arriving in 1944 he started negotiations with the Dept of Posts and Telegraphs with a view to getting a Post Office in Tooreen. He was successful in this venture and the Post Office was opened in 1946, it was operated by the Forkan family and still is to the present day.

There was also another small shop in the village in those years, it was run by another Mulrennan family and it was situated where Mrs Olsons's old house is at present.

In 1949 Fr Horan got an idea to build a Dance Hall in the Village. He went to America to raise funds, and when he returned Padraic Forkan donated a site for the New Hall.

The foundation was excavated in March 1951 and building commenced in April. All the young men in the area were employed during the summer. The building contractor was Mr Golden from Ballycastle in North Mayo.

The Hall was competed and the first Dance took place on the 24th October 1951, the music was supplied by the Flying Carlton Band and the Admission was 10 Shillings, and dancing was from 10 pm to 4 am.

Fr Horan ran the Hall successfully for eight years until he was transferred to Cloonfad in 1959. He was replaced by Fr Michael McHugh who took over as manager of the Hall.

In 1963 he built an extension to the back of the building. In 1964 he started a Boxing Club in the Hall and in February 1966 the first Youth Club Macra na Tuaithe was started. In 1967 Fr McHugh was transferred and he was replaced by Fr John Flannery.

The Hall closed for dancing in August 1969 and in April 1970 a factory was opened in the building, about 20 local girls were employed. This continued until 1979 when the Factory closed and the girls were transferred to Castlerea.

Fr Flannery was moved in 1975 and was replaced by Fr Tony O'Grady, he became involved with the Youth Club and in 1976 the Basketball Court was constructed and opened on the 23rd of July 1976.