Newport, County Mayo
Irish: Baile Uí Fhiacháin
View across the harbour of the town, 2007
|Council:||West Mayo MD|
Newport, historically known as Ballyvaughan is a small town in the barony of Burrishoole, County Mayo, with a population of 590 in 2006. For many years the town was also known as Newport-Pratt. It is located on the west coast of Ireland, along the shore of Clew Bay, north of Westport. The N59 road passes through the town. The county town of Castlebar is approx 11 miles east of Newport. The Black Oak River flows through the centre of the town and there are walking paths along its banks.
A bus route via Westport and Ireland West Airport Knock, operates once a day in each direction, Monday-Friday. On Sundays an Expressway route provides an evening journey each way to/from Westport and Galway.
The nearest rail services may be accessed at Westport railway station approximately nine miles distant. There are several trains a day from Westport railway station to Heuston railway station in Dublin via Athlone.
Newport was established in the early 18th century by the Medlycott family. James Moore, working for the Medlycott Estate, designed the quay at Newport in a formal layout. The Medlycott family's land agent was a Captain Pratt. Pratt introduced linen manufacturing to the town under the management of immigrant Quakers who relocated to County Mayo from Ulster. It would appear that, although the immigrant Quakers found living conditions in Mayo difficult, the linen industry picked up in the mid-18th century and for the next forty years or so the town prospered around the industry. By the early 19th century it again fell into decline, and it was superseded as a port by the town of Westport seven miles to the south. At the end of the 18th century, the Medlycott Estate was taken over by the O'Donel family who built Newport House, now a hotel, overlooking the harbour.
Quakers in Newport
In 1719 a community of Quakers came to Newport under a Captain Pratt who established a colony of linen weavers in the town which was known as Ballyvaughan at that time. Quakers, due to their reputation of being honest and hard-working tenants, were sought after by the landlords of estates at the time. Quaker communities usually prospered wherever they went, but the Quakers in Newport were reported to be in poor circumstances, and they needed support and help from other Quakers across Ireland and further afield from whom they were now far removed geographically by their remote location. The nearest community of Quakers was based in Ballymurray, County Roscommon.
The Newport Quakers appear to have had no meeting house, instead meeting for religious worship in each other's homes. With many deaths of their young people occurring within the community in the years after resettling in Mayo, a burial ground had to be established for them in the town. The linen business interests fell on hard times and life was a struggle with constant assistance having to be brought to Newport by visiting Quakers. By 1736 the Newport Quakers started to think about moving from their settlement. They were unable to find suitable marriage partners from within their own community as they were all closely related and this caused them concern. The Newport Quaker community struggled on for a few more years and eventually bought some land in Roscommon where they would be closer to the Quaker community at Ballymurray. During the winter of 1739/1740 the last of the Newport Quakers left their Newport land and homes and moved to County Roscommon where their lives would be less wretched. Some Quakers went to America to make new lives for themselves in the years that followed.
The O'Donel family, who took over from the Medlycotts, were Protestant. However, George O'Donel's wife was a Catholic and he donated three acres of land on Barrack Hill to the Sisters of Mercy to build a convent in Newport. It was noted that when the foundations were being dug out for the new convent in 1884, many coins and buttons were unearthed, the buttons bearing the inscription of "Pratt". In 1887 the convent was completed and St Joseph's Convent National School opened with a roll of 211 girls and 34 boys. The school was a success and numbers continued to grow. The nuns were a popular addition to Newport and local merchants donated gifts to the convent. In 1894, a lace school to train girls in the lacemaking industry opened and provided some industry - until the lace market collapsed after World War II. Due to rationalisation, the sisters vacated the convent in 1977 and took up residence in a rented building in the town. The convent then had its own secondary school but in recent years, Newport pupils travel to secondary schools in Westport.
- Birthplace of John (Juan) King who went on to become along with Admiral Brown, one of the founders of the Argentine Navy.
- John Henry Kelly, the paternal grandfather of Grace Kelly, the American actress and the wife of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, was born in Drumilra, Newport.
- The historic Murray Hotel of Mackinac Island, Michigan, in the United States, which opened in 1882, was founded by Dominick Murray of Newport.
Places of interest
Newport has a disused railway viaduct crossing the river which, together with the Catholic church on top of the hill, dominate the town. St Patrick's Church was built in 1914 in the Irish Romanesque Revival style by Rudolph M. Butler. It has a stained-glass east window of the Last Judgment, the last window completed by Harry Clarke in 1930. Burrishoole Friary and Grace O'Malley's Rockfleet Castle are both just to the west of the town. The town is an angling and tourist centre.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Newport, County Mayo)
- "The most comprehensive website on Co Mayo West of Ireland - mayo-ireland.ie". mayo-ireland.ie. http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/Mayo/Towns/Newport/Newport.htm%7ctitle=Newport%7cwork=mayo-ireland.ie.
- Antiquities of West Mayo, Christiaan Corlett, pp 88
- Land and Popular Politics in Ireland: County Mayo from the Plantation to the ... By Donald E. Jordan
- "Archives". Quakers in Ireland. http://www.quakers-in-ireland.ie/home/archives/896.