The town of Ballinrobe is a town full of history and folklore; being the oldest town in Mayo, established circa 1390, its easy to perceive why. One of the lesser featured ruins of Ballinrobe is the short-lived Catholic church thats situated on the Castlebar road. Information on this church can be scant and disjointed, probably due to its brief life span and the amount of other historical ruins in the area. It appears construction on the church began in 1815, as stated in Samuel Lewis’ Topographic Dictionary of Ireland, after the land and funding were donated by Lord Tyrawley. The main body of the church was completed by 1819, a plaque over the entrance attests to this (MDCCCXIX), however the fine four-storey bell tower at its east end may have been completed at a later date, possibly as late as 1827. There are a couple of probable reasons for the delay in building the church, firstly unlike a lot of catholic churches of its era it is quite impressive in size, and secondly considering its construction was prior to the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 it is understandable that funds may have been difficult to come by. A James C. Curwens wrote in 1818 that a, “large Catholic Chapel is now erecting but some difficulty has occurred in procuring funds for its completion”. Mentions of the church in the 1820s pay no remark to the fine tower, a structure that was deserving of mention as not many Catholic churches where home to such a lofty edifice. The tower is mention by Samuel Lewis in 1837 so we can be assured it was built by the early 1830s. As striking as the church may have been its death knell was rung in 1849 when another church, named St Mary’s, was built closer to the town. However this church was not completed until the early 1860s due to poor finances in the aftermath of the Famine and we can assume that Tyrawley’s church was used until its completion.
GPS: 53.62748, -9.22814