on March 23, 1847, The Mayo Constitution reported: In Ballinrobe the workhouse is in the most awfully deplorable state, pestilence having attacked paupers, officers, and all. In fact, this building is one horrible charnel house, the unfortunate paupers being nearly all the victims of a fearful fever, the dying and the dead, we might say, huddled together. The master has become the victim of this dread disease; the clerks, a young man whose energies were devoted to the well-being of the union, has been added to the victims; the matron, too, is dead; and the respected, and esteemed physician has fallen before the ravages of pestilence, in his constant attendance on the diseased inmates
Scene: Main St
Date: circa 1920's
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Read about Ballinrobe below
Ballinrobe (Irish: Baile an Róba) is a town in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. Ballinrobe is located on the River Robe, which empties into Lough Mask two kilometers to the west.
Dating back to 1390, Ballinrobe is said to be the oldest town in South Mayo. The registry of the Dominican friary of Athenry contains a mention to the monastery de Roba, an Augustinian friary whose recently restored ruins are one of the historical landmarks of the town today. The District Courtroom is housed in the old Market House, a marketing center for local produce established in 1752.
The Union Workhouse
In 1839 the Union Workhouse of the Poor Law Union of Ballinrobe was founded. And as with other law unions of Ireland, Ballinrobe suffered greatly during The Great Famine of 1845 to 1849. With 2000 inmates at the height of the famine, the Workhouse was so overcrowded that on March 23, 1847, The Mayo Constitution reported:
In Ballinrobe the workhouse is in the most awfully deplorable state, pestilence having attacked paupers, officers, and all. In fact, this building is one horrible charnel house, the unfortunate paupers being nearly all the victims of a fearful fever, the dying and the dead, we might say, huddled together. The master has become the victim of this dread disease; the clerks, a young man whose energies were devoted to the well-being of the union, has been added to the victims; the matron, too, is dead; and the respected, and esteemed physician has fallen before the ravages of pestilence, in his constant attendance on the diseased inmates. This is the position of the Ballinrobe house, every officer swept away, while the number of deaths among the inmates is unknown; and we forgot to add that the Roman Catholic chaplain is also dangerously ill of the same epidemic. Now the Ballinrobe board have complied with the Commissioner's orders, in admitting a houseful of paupers and in striking a new rate, which cannot be collected; while the unfortunate inmates, if they escape the awful epidemic, will survive only to be the subjects of a lingering death by starvation!
Ninety-six people died in just one week in April of 1849. The dead were buried in unmarked, shallow graves, located just outside the boundary on the southwest of the ruins. In 1922, during the Irish Civil War, a great deal of the structure was burned, although some portions remain to this day.
In 1935, Feliksas Vaitkus, the sixth person to make a successful flight over Atlantic Ocean with a single engine single seat airplane, landed at Ballinrobe. Vaitkus flew his transatlantic flight with Lituanica II. Vaitkus had to fight the terrible weather conditions and was helped considerably by hourly broadcasts from an Irish radio station. He learned that Dublin was fogged in, as well as all areas heading east as far as the Baltic Sea. Vaitkus knew that he could not make it to Kaunas due to his low fuel supply, and being exhausted after a 23-hour struggle fighting the elements, felt it was best to come down somewhere in Ireland. He spotted an open field at Ballinrobe and came down, with the airplane suffering extensive damage, but he himself suffered no injuries. Lituanica II was crated for shipment to Lithuania, where it would be restored. By ship and by train he made his way to Kaunas where he was given a hero’s welcome.
Ballinrobe today is once again a thriving market town. Its recent growth is attributable to the Irish construction boom and its development as a dormitory town for both Galway and Castlebar. It also has received many immigrants from the new EU member states.
There are numerous renovated, historic structures in and around the town. Genealogical records (Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, Civil, Gravestone Inscriptions, etc) for this area are held at the South Mayo Family Research Centre on Main Street in Ballinrobe.
Ballinrobe boasts the only race course in Mayo.
There is also an 18-hole championship golf course nearby.
Ballinrobe with its long standing GAA club was triumphant this year at minor level , defeating such powerhouse teams as balla and kilmaine on there way to the mayo final . The final was a day to be remembered with only 2 points separating the victors from Aughamore who put up a good fight , but were found wanting when ballinrobe kicked in up into 5th gear , it was a great year for everyone involved with the club as the juniors were also victorious in there sporting endeavour , the first team to win a final under the new floodlights at Flanagan park