Westport, Cathair na Mart (the stone fort of the beeves).

The town (designed by James Wyatt) and its English name date from around 1780, but the Irish name is attested a good two centuries earlier, for example, as Cathair na Mart, in the Annals of the Four Masters, sub anno 1583, as Cahernamart in a letter from Sir Richard Bingham, 1592, and as Cahernamarte in Straff, 1635; the name is also still represented by the townland of Cahernamart, which was the site of an O Malley castle in the 16th century. Pop.1841 4,365; 1851 4,121.(+2,991 in workhouse) 1871 4,378 (including workhouse, etc.); 1871 4,070; 1911 3,674.

Westport is situated at the S.E. extremity of Clew Bay on the Carrowbeg river. The town was designed by James Wyatt, an English architect (1746-1813). It was once an important seaport.

Rev. James Owen Hannay (1865-1950), the novelist who wrote under the pseudonym George A. Birmingham, was the Church of Ireland Rector in Westport from 1892 to 1913. He was born in Belfast on the 16th July 1865 and ordained in 1889. Some of his publications include: The Spirit and Origin of Christian Monasticism, The Wisdom of the Desert, A Wayfarer in Hungary, A Padre in France, An Irishman looks at his World, God's Iron: A Life of the prophet Jeremiah, Spanish Gold, The Lost Tribes, The Island of Mystery, Up the Rebels, A Public Scandal, The Mayor's Candlesticks, Fed Up, Two Fools, Appeasement and many more. He died in London on the 2nd February 1950.

Westport House is an elegant Georgian mansion situated on the site of an ancient castle of the O'Malley's. The original house was built by Colonel John Browne and his wife, ancestors of the present Marquess of Sligo. The east front was built in 1730 by the famous German architect, Robert Cassels. The house was completed around 1778 by James Wyatt, the architect who designed Westport town.

Extract from: "MAYO - Aspects of its Heritage", By Bernard O'Hara. Published by kind permission of author.

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