Old Coastguard Station, Westport in Co. Mayo

This 19th century coastguard station situated at Rosmoney, Westport is being restored by the owner, James Cahill with financial assistance from the EU Leader programme granted through the South Mayo Leader Company. The building consists of a terrace of two story cottages with adjoining Chief Officer's House. The original plans were drawn up in 1876 and building work commenced shortly thereafter. By 1921 it was abandoned and with the founding of the Irish Free State the coastguard service in Ireland was abandoned.

A short history of the coastguard service is as follows: In 1822 the old 'Preventive Waterguard' was reorganised and renamed the 'Coast Guard'. At that time the coastguards were under the control of the Board of Trade and about 2,000 served along the coastline of Ireland.

Their duties included boarding vessels in search of contraband, collecting excise duty and suppressing illicit distilling (of poitin) and assisting the constabulary in localities, which were regarded as inaccessible. During the 1847 potato famine in Ireland the coastguards assisted in distribution of grain and foodstuffs to remote areas along the coastline and to offshore islands. Their wives also operated soup kitchens and thereby eased the suffering of many people.

In 1856 control of the coastguard was transferred to the Royal Navy. They were ideally trained for naval service and it seemed a practical solution to have the coastguards as a 'reserve force' in times of war.

At the Old Coastguard Station, Rosmoney, restoration work is still in progress, including the conversion of one house into a tearoom. The original plans for the building included the addition of a third storey tower to the Chief Officer's House - this was not built at the time of construction and has now been added as part of the project. Most of the houses are still derelict. A small indoor display area is open to visitors. Outside there is a collection of 12 curraghs and coracles built to original plans.

This is a Leader funded project.