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Deerpark Manor Bed & Breakfast, Swinford, Co. Mayo. Phone : 094 925 1078  


Swinford is the anglicized version of Béal Átha na Muice. The Irish name translates as "Mouth of the Ford of the Pigs". There are several conflicting stories as to how the town got this name, each one as interesting as the other. The most common theory is that there is a fordable stream just to the north of the town; and it is here that a large pig market was once held. In 1894, in a Travellers Guide to Ireland, Swinford was described as 'a leading market town in County Mayo ... it has enjoyed this reputation for well over a hundred years. It is only recently that the town lost its market status, but fairs and market days are still held regularly in the town.

The town was established in the late 1700s by the Brabazon family, a name still linked to the Swinford area. The family were originally from Leicestershire in England and had been living on their estate in Ballinasloe in County Galway until they were dispossessed during the Cromwellian wars. George and Sarah Brabazon built the Park House in Swinford (now, sadly, demolished) and planted a large estate. Their grandson, William, was responsible for the development of Swinford town in the early 19th century. As an MP for Mayo, he was responsible for the erection of the Protestant Church and Graveyard, the Post Office (giving the town a 'Post' status), the Court House, the development of Circular Road and the establishment of Constabulary and Revenue Police. He also erected the Workhouse, having sold six acres of Brabazon Park to the Swinford Union, in 1840. William, a bachelor, died suddenly that same year, leaving the house and estate to his nephew, Hugh Higgins (who subsequently changed his name to maintain the family title).

Hugh continued his uncle's work in developing the town of Swinford, especially during the Great Famine of 1845-48, where he tried to alleviate the suffering of his tenants. He forbade the sale of corn to outside areas, he provided two houses in the town to act as Soup Kitchens, and places of shelter for those unable to gain entry to the Workhouse. Hugh died at the age of 66 on a trip to retrieve his son's body, who had died during the Crimean War.

Colonel John Palmer Brabazon, a cousin of Hugh Higgins, inherited the estate in 1864 (being the last landlord in Swinford), but decided to concentrate on his army career so choose to be an absentee landlord. He briefly visited Swinford in 1877 with his two sisters and in 1880 he gave permission for the erection of the Ball Alley in Swinford. With the rise in interest in the 'Land Question' (owing much to Michael Davitt, a native of County Mayo), agitation began to rise and Brabazon House became home to two companies of the Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiments for some months.

Brabazon Estate was purchased by the Congested Districts Board in the early part of the 20th century. In 1916, the Convent of Mercy acquired Brabazon Park House to serve as a girls' boarding school, which it did for some 60 years until the demolition of the house by The Western Health Board (the owners) in 1980. On the 28th April, 1919, Brabazon Park was committed to the care of a number of trustees. The original trustees were Dean Connington, B. F. Cunniffe, Michael F. Campbell, Michael J. Campbell, Patrick O'Connor, Solicitor, Thomas Morrin, J. P. and Patrick O'Hara, Swinford, thus became almost unique for a town of its size having a community owned public park.and was later passed on by the Land Commission to be held by local trustees.

Swinford Market 

When Swinford was thriving as a Market Town, fairs were held in February, May, August and December. People came from all neighbouring village with their wares or to buy supplies. Cattle, pigs, creels and hay were the main goods for sale, but tradesmen and craftsmen could also be found displaying their wares. Main Street (below left) was where the cattle and pig markets would be held while potato and poultry markets were reserved for Bridge Street (below right)

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